"Black Box Poetics" by Kendall Johnson

  • "Black Box Poetics" by Kendall Johnson

Each of the black boxes contains white pages, typed, one or two pages each, stapled at the top left corner. 300-500 word stories; all quite true, unfortunately. These are poetics of chaos. These are the stories I said I’d never write. The kind of stories, once heard, you can’t erase from your mind. Scenes you wish you’d never seen. Sensations you wish never to feel again. When I began writing, photography, and painting, I adopted what is rightly or wrongly termed the Hippocratic Oath that medical people are bound by: simply, do no harm. I’ve held these stories back.

Cannibalism flirts with wildfires, bungled suicides and cross-dressing rescue workers. Trauma-filled flashbacks from Viet Nam to 911 devastate the landscape. Aptly subtitled “Short Memoirs of Chaos,” Kendall Johnson’s Black Box Poetics takes the reader on a wild, unpredictable ride through his fascinating life. Nothing escapes Johnson’s sharp eye and dark wit, including the shimmering prospect of redemption.
—Alexis Rhone Fancher, author of EROTIC: New & Selected, poetry editor, Cultural Weekly.
Kendall Johnson has been a firefighter, trauma psychotherapist, Vietnam War veteran, and mountain climber. He is also a writer, painter, and deep thinker. He is someone who has been drawn to painful places and many moments of the worst kind of violent rage and hatred. Black Box Poetics explores the worst moments of a life and draws us forward into a world where even after one has been shown darkness, light is possible.
—John Brantingham, author of Life, Orange to Pear
By turns haunting, inspiring, tragic, insightful, harrowing, and empathetic, Kendall Johnson’s Black Box Poetics is a work of complexity and brilliance. Like the war correspondence of Ernest Hemingway, Michael Herr, and Dexter Filkins, Johnson writes about trauma—both immediate and enduring—with a nuance, an honesty, and a grace that enables the reader to find in these narratives lessons of universal humanistic and spiritual importance.
—Kareem Tayyar, author of The Prince of Orange County

Chapbook trailer for Black Box Poetics by Kendall Johnson. Paintings and Poetry by Kendall Johnson. Music and Direction by Dennis Callaci.

Kendall Johnson

Kendall Johnson grew up in the lemon groves in Southern California, raised by assorted coyotes and bobcats. A former firefighter with military experience, he served as traumatic stress consultant—often in the field—specializing in Incident Command System Class I & II commands. As such, he has lectured in fire houses, training camps, hospitals, emergency service institutes, conferences, government training facilities, universities, here and abroad. Serving on the editorial board of the International Journal of Emergency Mental Health, and as Associate Professor at the California State University Long Beach master’s degree program in Emergency Service Administration, he authored a number of professional papers, seven books in the treatment of traumatic stress, school crisis management, and recovery. Recently Dr. Johnson retired from teaching to pursue painting, photography, and writing. In that capacity he has written five literary books of artwork and poetry, and one in art history and his shorter work has appeared in Literary Hub, Chiron Review, Cultural Weekly, Quarks Ediciones Digitales, and was translated into Chinese by Poetry Hall. His collection of memoir stories, Chaos & Ash, was released last June from Pelekinesis. He isn’t sure what he wants to be when he grows up.

Twitter: layeredmeaning

Facebook: kendall.johnson.73113

Website: www.layeredmeaning.com

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