Sample Writing of Michael Lee Johnson: Poetry

Rising Star In The Illinois World Of Poetry The Lost American, Author Interview Vietnam War and Iraq, Author Interview Articles, Poems, For Authors and Poets Michael Lee Johnson's Poetry Sites Favorite Links Sample Poetry of Michael Lee Johnson

Intro:  Michael Lee Johnson has been published in USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Scotland, Turkey, Fiji, Nigeria, Algeria, Africa, India, United Kingdom, Republic of Sierra Leone, Israel, Nepal, Thailand, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Finland, and Poland internet radio. Michael Lee Johnson has been published in more than 380 different publications worldwide to date.  All of Michael Lee Johnson's poetry books are now available on Type in Michael Lee Johnson or book titles or simply go to this link:  You can also just type "Michael Lee Johnson" into Google Search.


Charley Plays a Tune

By Michael Lee Johnson

(Version 4) Photo Available

Crippled, in Chicago,

with arthritis

and Alzheimer's,

in a dark rented room,

Charley plays

melancholic melodies

on a dust-filled

harmonica he

found abandoned

on a playground of sand

years ago by a handful of children

playing on monkey bars.

He hears bedlam when he buys fish at the local market

and the skeleton bones of the fish show through.

He lies on his back, riddled with pain,

pine cones fill his pillows and mattress;

praying to Jesus and rubbing his rosary beads

Charley blows tunes out his

celestial instrument

notes float through the open window

touch the nose of summer clouds.

Charley overtakes himself with grief

and is ecstatically alone.

Charley plays a solo tune.


Harvest Time

By Michael Lee Johnson

Version 6/Photo Available

A Métis Indian lady, drunk --

hands blanketed as in prayer,

over a large brown fruit basket

naked of fruit, no vine, no vineyard

inside -- approaches the Edmonton,

Alberta adoption agency.

There are only spirit gods

inside her empty purse.

Inside the basket, an infant,

restrained from life,

with a fruity winesap apple

wedged like a teaspoon

of autumn sun

inside its mouth.

A shallow pool of tears

mounts in native blue eyes.

Snuffling, the mother offers

a slim smile, turns away.

She slithers voyeuristically

through near slum streets

and alleyways,

looking for drinking buddies

to share a hefty pint

of applejack wine.


Gingerbread Lady

By Michael Lee Johnson

(Version 3)/Photo Available

Gingerbread lady,

no sugar or cinnamon spice;

years ago arthritis and senility took their toll.

Crippled mind moves in then out, like an old sexual adventure

blurred in an imagination of fingertip thoughts.

Who remembers the characters?

There was George, her lover, near the bridge at the Chicago River:

she missed his funeral; her friends were there.

She always made feather-light of people dwelling on death,

but black and white she remembers well.

The past is the present; the present is forgotten.

Who remembers Gingerbread Lady?

Sometimes lazy-time tea with a twist of lime,

sometimes drunken-time screwdriver twist with clarity.

She walks in scandals.

Her live-in maid smirked as Gingerbread Lady gummed her food,

false teeth forgotten in a custom-imprinted cup

with water, vinegar, and ginger.

Years ago, arthritis and senility took their toll.

Ginger forgot to rise out of bed;

no sugar, or cinnamon toast.


Nikki Purrs

By Michael Lee Johnson/Photo Available

Soft nursing

5 solid minutes

of purr

paws paddling

like a kayak competitor

against ripples of my

60 year old river rib cage-

I feel like a nursing mother

but I’m male and I have no nipples.

Sometimes I feel afloat.

Nikki is a little black skunk,

kitten, suckles me for milk,

or affection?

But she is 8 years old a cat.

I’m her substitute mother,

afloat in a flower bed of love,

and I give back affection

freely unlike a money exchange.

Done, I go to the kitchen, get out

Fancy Feast, gourmet salmon, shrimp,

a new work day begins.


Rod-Stroked Survival, With a Deadly Hammer

By Michael Lee Johnson

(Version 2)/Photo Available

Rebecca fantasized that life was a lottery ticket or a pull of a lever,

that one of the gambling chips in her pocket was a winner or the slot machines a redeemer;

but life itself was not real that was strictly for the mentally insane at the Elgin Mental Institution. She gambled her savings away on a riverboat

stuck in mud on a riverbank, the Grand Victoria, in Elgin, Illinois. Her bare feet were always propped up on wooden chair; a cigarette drooped from her lips like morning fog. She always dreamed of traveling, not nightmares. But she couldn't overcome, overcome, the terrorist ordeal of the German siege of Leningrad. She was a foreigner now; she is a foreigner for good. Her first husband died after spending a lifetime in prison with stinging nettles in his toes and feet; the second husband died of hunger when there were no more rats to feed on, after many fights in prison for the last remains. What does a poet know of suffering? Rebecca has rod stroked survival with a deadly mallet. She gambles nickels, dimes, quarters, tokens tossed away, living a penniless life for grandchildren who hardly know her name. Rebecca fantasized that life was a lottery ticket or the pull of a lever.


Mother, Edith, at 98

By Michael Lee Johnson

Edith, in this nursing home

blinded with macular degeneration,

I come to you with your blurry

eyes, crystal sharp mind,

your countenance of grace-

as yesterday's winds

I have chosen to consume you

and take you away.

"Oh, where did Jesus disappear

to", she murmured,

over and over again,

in a low voice

dripping words

like a leaking faucet:

"Oh, there He is my

Angel of the coming."