Michael Lee Johnson: Four Poems


Bowl of Petunias

If you must leave me, please
leave me for something special,
like a beautiful bowl of petunias
for when the memories leak
and cracks appear
and old memories fade,
flowers rebuff bloom,
sidewalks fester weeds
and we both lie down
separately from each other
for the very last time.


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 in the background
dances freely
it’s here their memories are folded,
into prairie winds.
You are still framed
in solid black and white
you can’t leave this space on your own,
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
fade by moisture and sun
or wind up cursed with sand?
I pull down your life
and frame it here
like a stage curtain
handful of future,
present, passed, and pasted
in a space dimension of
3” x 5” tucked beneath
a simple footnote in time.


Inside This World Zipped

I ‘m inside this world of silent creative space
within a zipped up tube of words
within the darkness I crawl
from my vocabulary.
I look on the walls of night
looking for an exit.
I look through the crow in the darkness,
the gray on the bark of the willow tree,
serve as my lantern out of here.
Wayward are the gray clouds
I can’t see I toss my faith upon.
Wild horses of creativity form
lines, stanzas, poems with
and without form.
It’s here I beach the darkness
and the conclusion in the end
and the final lines that allow
you to envelope me between
my screams and creativity.


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.