Sunday, April 8, 2012

Two poems by Michael Lee Johnson


Picture, Cap and Gown

Cap and gown
history major,
minor in math-
graduation under
the maple tree,
bright red leaves,
but the times don’t show it;
a full face grins.
There’s a shadow
below your nose
above your lips,
it settles into
a gray mixed day.
You stand on farm land
with no plow in hand
or in the distance bare;
no damn cows to be seen
no red barn or damn homestead
just open acres of space,
and downed fences,
and some idle brush
blending with quill feathers
flushed within a background
of branches.
Life is a simple picture.
Life is a simple picture,
repeating with tree shadows
hovering around leaves.
Dirt background is dances freely
it is here memories are folded
into prairie wind.
You are still framed
in solid black and white,
you can’t leave this space alone,
from now to your own eternity,
to your salvation or your grave.
Your whole life now has spots
and spaces behind it.
Did you grow older and have children?
Did you marry a man of the plow
or that chemist you had the brief
affair with in agricultural school?
Did the graduation certificate
rolled up in your hand
like a squashed turnip,
donut, or dead sea scroll
faded by moisture or sun
wind cursed with sand?
I pull down your life
and frame it here
like a staged curtain
hand full of future,
present, passed, and pasted
in a space dimension of
3” x 5” tucked beneath
a simple footnote of time.

The Seasons and the Slants

I live my life inside my patio window.
It’s here, at my business desk I slip
into my own warm pajamas and slippers-
seek Jesus, come to terms
with my own cross and brittle conditions.
Outside, winter night turns to winter storm,
the blue jay, cardinal, sparrows and doves
go into hiding, away from the razor whipping winds,
behind willow tree bare limb branches-
they lose their faces in somber hue.
Their voices at night abbreviate
and are still, short like Hemingway sentences.
With this poetic mind, no one cares
about the seasons and the slants
the wind or its echoes.
I live my life inside my patio window.

Michael Lee Johnson is  a poet, and editor, from Itasca, Illinois who lived 10 years in Canada during the Vietnam era, published in 25 countries. He runs five poetry sites, and published works are available at here, here,, Barnes & Noble, and iUniverse.

This Zine Will Change Your Life previously published I Know from My Bed by Michael Lee Johnson. Check it out. 

Photo by Adam Lawrence.

Local Chicago musician and blogger Brendan Losch will release his third full-length album on April 10th.

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