Questionable Baggage / Marci Rae Johnson

Original price was: $14.00.Current price is: $8.00.

Questionable Baggage

poems by

Marci Rae Johnson

~72 pages, $14 (+ shipping)

Projected Release Date: August/Sept, 2024

An Advance Sale Discount price of $8 (+ shipping) is available HERE prior to press time. This price is not available anywhere else or by check. The check price is $12/book (which includes shipping & sales tax) and should be sent to: Main Street Rag, 4416 Shea Lane, Mint Hill, NC 28227. 


PLEASE NOTE: Ordering in advance of the release date entitles the buyer to a discount. It does not mean the book will ship before the date posted above and the price only applies to copies ordered through the Main Street Rag Online Bookstore.

Marci Rae Johnson works as an editor for a book publisher, and in her previous life she taught college English. Her poems appear in Image, Mid-American Review, Moon City Review, The MacGuffin, Rhino, The Louisville Review, and 32 Poems, among others. Her first collection of poetry won the Powder Horn Prize and was published by Sage Hill Press, and her chapbook won the Friends of Poetry chapbook contest for Michigan authors in 2014 and was published by Celery City Chapbooks. Her second full-length collection, Basic Disaster Supplies Kit, was published by Steel Toe Books.

Compelled by the absurd—that’s one way to describe Marci Rae Johnson’s poetry. In Questionable Baggage we read about Jacuzzis washed into the sea, a minister walking on water before becoming lunch for crocodiles, products like Nutella and Skittles and Cheese Whiz, Tupperware and Pyrex, Viewmaster slides and My Little Pony. But there’s meaning in absurdity, which Johnson reveals in all of its ridiculous yet lyrical glory. ~Lynn Domina


Questionable Baggage is what happens when a poet has a wicked sense of humor and a wide-open heart. I’ve learned not to read Marci Rae Johnson’s poems in public unless I want to make a scene: when this book wasn’t making me laugh out loud, I was crying or sitting with my jaw dropped and goosebumps all over my arms. No matter what you’re expecting, these poems will surprise you. ~Katie Manning, author of Hereverent and Tasty Other and editor-in-chief of Whale Road Review



Packing for the End of Days

I walked out this morning and wrote down this song. ~James Taylor


Well it’s the apocalypse
and we’ve only got a week to get ready,
which in the Bible was enough time

for God to make all the universes,
the suns and moons, the trees

and all the creatures on land
or in the sea—even the mosquitoes,
which have returned already

thanks to the early spring. Or maybe
mosquitoes didn’t exist in Eden—

a debate to distract us as we pack
our suitcases with sunscreen
and matches, underwear and jackets,

crackers and Nutella. The last unbroken
umbrella. It’s good to be prepared.

I wonder what kind of weather
we might encounter. He says fire
and I say rain. I’ve seen sunny days

that I thought would never end.

Another way to pretend
our time isn’t at hand.



Questionable Baggage

Together we understood what terror was: You’re not human anymore. You’re a shadow. ~Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried


1. Attention passengers: this is your final boarding call. It’s time
to set your mind on things above, not on earthly things in liquid form

over 3.4 oz. 2. Though you hunger and thirst after righteousness you must
pour out the water from your Nalgene bottle as a libation to the dustbin,

3. remove your shoes in the presence of the god. The machine will see
into your heart as you hold your hands above your head and 4. surrender

the sinful trappings of this world: the circular saw and brass knuckles,
the 2 plants in decorative pots, your fireworks and gas torches, the weight-

lifting belt and cream cheese, the 40-pound box of books and all tools
over 7 inches in length. 5. If your soul does not fit in the overhead bin

you must check it in with the gloved assistant and her wandering hand.
6. The pat down may include head coverings and sensitive areas such as

breasts, groin, and the buttocks: 7. please present your body as a living
and holy sacrifice. 8. You may be required to adjust your clothing.

9. You must be ready, for we incorporate unpredictable security measures,
both seen and unseen, as thieves in the night. 10. Please report your unattended

baggage: the men you couldn’t love enough, that fear of your father, the desire
to stay in bed forever. 12. Mental illness must not be brought aboard,

nor body fat more than one inch over your waistband. Not your persistent acne,
the ringing in your ears, the sensitivity to smells and taste, or your inability to breathe

at high altitudes. 13. If your baggage is lost, delayed, or damaged in transit, consider
letting it all go, becoming the person who accepts the gloved hand quietly, who follows
all the rules. Bows to authority.



Largest Abandoned Factory in the World:
The Packard Factory, Detroit


Depart, my dear. The assembly line shift
dies at 5. Busted window panes, grass
in the parking lot cracks and the missing T,

changing the city from MOTOR to MOOR,
tract of open, expiring land. Even the ghosts
are disappointed. What is there to haunt? Nothing

for the receding senses to cling to—the old scent
of oil and industry gone into the ground
where it will live, asphyxiating itself

for a million years. So many ways
to disappear: dissolve, evaporate, escape.
Means: fading blueprints on the floor.

Beating down a wall. Means: fleeing
through the mouth of the roof or flying down first
higher than the trees, then just

another leaf. Leaving. All those xeroxed copies
of my heart fluttering like angels
through the stairwells.





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