Michael Lee Johnson, US



Free Verse


Moon Sleep


I stick
my hand
out toward
the sea,
roll out my palm.
I offer a plank,
a trail for you.
Follow out into the water
and the salty stars.
When you stretch out
and give your heart
to the final moment
of the glass night sky,
draw me in

sketch my face
on the edge
of our moon

over ages of celestial
moon sleep and dust.




Around My World


I’m a thin, tall, black lady
living in a small pink cottage
my body barely fits inside
the frame, and I’m sitting
on my buttocks with my knees
bent and my head
scrapes the inside wall
at the crease where
the roof starts leaning in
on one side against my brain.
A red flower pot balances
on my kneecap and gracious
black stems and black
flower leafs sprout skyward
through the chimney top
ascending into a blue
winter sky like
Jack the Bean Stalk.
Small words are written
in black all over my pink
walls, inside and out,
and I can’t remember
any of them or how they
join together right to left.

Around my world of
pink and black are
blue skies with snow
frames around all four

My pink palm of my hand
holds my chin up;
I’m cramped up inside
of myself and the
black framed window
near my eyes
keeps most of the blues
and sunshine out.




Jesse’s Homeless Face


Someday Jesse wants to go home.
I see his world,
all it’s hidden concepts
embedded in Jesse’s aging face

life has whispered by leaving
memory trails

wrinkled forehead,
deep as river bed ruts
dried with years, weather-beaten,
just above his bushy eyebrows
that are gray and twisted

much like life drawing memories
across his empty face.
Jesse has a long oblique
Jewish nose with dark
blue opal eyes,
that would pierce
even the pain
of his own crucifixion.
Life tears flow though
a whole new ghoulish
apparition, a vision
of homelessness plastered
east of Dearborn Bridge,
near Lower Wacker Drive,
downtown Chicago

where affluent citizens
seldom go unless inebriated;
puke-stained, or in a taxicab.

Jesse’s hair sprouts skyward,
groomed like an abandoned
dove nest in wild Chicago
meandering winds.
Puffed eye bags of weariness
sag likes sandbags,
one slightly heavier than the other.
Weeks of breaded growth
contour his chin in color blends
of white and black.
Over one shoulder drapes
a grungy gray blanket found
in Lilly Mae’s garbage can,
the other shoulder,
naked, but tanned,
bears itself to the elements.

Jesse panhandles during the day.
At night and early Sunday mornings,
you can find him behind
a local McDonalds,
near Cracker Creek,
sharing leftover burgers
and sugar candy
with river rats

Jesse considers it an act of religious charity;
age 69, someday soon,
Jesse wants to go home.




Dancer of the Shoe Poem


Dancer of the shoe poem,
I trip over your shoe string
dress or gown
and keep walking with a beat,
you're missing a step,
let me take you there,
or did the ghost of the night
take your slippers away

move right, slightly left,
back one half-step.
Dancer of the shoe poem,
it's my duty
to take you away
in a love feast.
Thank you for this dance.










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