From the monk who sets himself on fire in a crowded intersection of Saigon ("the familiar corded tendons of his hands, become / a bracken of ashes, a carbon twine of burnt"), to the salmon run in British Columbia ("The salmon word / for home is glacierdust and once-tall trees unlimbed, / a taste, no matter where, they know"), Johnson writes of topics varied and eclectic, unified by a focus on moments both declining and revenant.
Startling and haunting, the poems delve into the ways in which these moments are transformative, beautiful and unexpected. Being eaten by a lion is a gift rather than a loss, an opportunity for grace: "Instead, focus on your life, / its crimson liquor he grows drunk on. / Notice the way the red highlights his face, / how the snub nose is softened, the lips made / fuller; notice his deft musculature, his rapture."
Lyrical and rich with visceral imagery, How to Be Eaten by a Lion lingers, exploring the world with an eye for detail and an ear for music.