Friday 10 March 2023

Four Poems by Michael Lee Johnson


I Age


Arthritis and aging make it hard,

I walk gingerly, with a cane, and walk

slow, bent forward, fear threats,

falls, fear denouement─

I turn pages, my family albums

become a task.

But I can still bake and shake,

sugar cookies, sweet potato,

lemon meringue pies.

Alone, most of my time,

but never on Sundays,

friends and communion, 

United Church of Canada. 

I chug a few down,

love my Blonde Canadian Pale Ale,

Copenhagen long cut a pinch of snuff.

I can still dance the Boogie-woogie,

Lindy Hop in my living room,

with my nursing care home partner.

Aging has left me with youthful dimples, 

but few long-term promises.



Crypt in the Sky 

Order me up,

no one knows

where this crypt in the sky

like a condo on the 5th floor

suite don’t sell me out

over the years;

please don’t bury me beneath 

this ground, don’t let me decay

inside my time pine casket.

Don’t let me burn to cremate

skull last to turn to ashes.

Treasure me high where no one goes,

no arms reach, stretch.

Building for the Centuries

then just let it fall.

These few precious dry bones

preserved for you, sealed in the cloud

no relocation is necessary,

no flowers need to be planted,

no dusting off that dust each year,

no sinners can reach this high.

Jesus’ heaven, Jesus’ sky.


Note:  Dedicated to the passing of beloved Katie Balaskas.


Priscilla, Let’s Dance 


Priscilla, Puerto Rican songbird,

an island jungle dancer, Cuban heritage,

rare parrot, a singer survivor near extinction.

She sounds off on notes, music her

vocals hearing background bongos, 

piano keys, Cuban horns.

Quote the verse patterns,

quilt the pieces skirt bleeds,

then blend colours to light a tropical prism.

Steamy Salsa, a little twist, cha-cha-cha

dancing rhythms of passions, sacred these islands.

Everything she has is movement

tucked nice and tight but explosive.

She mimics these ancient sounds

showing her ribs, her naked body.

Her ex-lovers remain nightmares

pointed daggers, so criminal, so stereotyped.

Priscilla purifies her dreams with repentance.

She pours her heart out, everything

condensed to the bone, petite boobies,

cheap bras, flamboyant Gi strings.

Her vocabulary is that of sin and Catholicism.

Island hurricanes form her own Jesus

slants of hail, detonate thunder,

the collapse of hell in her hands after midnight. 

Priscilla remains a background rabble-rouser,

almost remorseful, no apologies

to the counsel of Judas

wherever he hangs.


Willow Tree Poem


Wind dancers

dancing to the

willow wind,

lance-shaped leaves

swaying right to left

all day long.

I’m depressed.

Birds hanging on-

bleaching feathers

out into

the sun.

Michael Lee Johnson lived ten years in Canada during the Vietnam era. Today he is a poet in the greater Chicagoland area, IL.  He has 275 YouTube poetry videos. Michael Lee Johnson is an internationally published poet in 44 countries, has several published poetry books, has been nominated for 6 Pushcart Prize awards, and 6 Best of the Net nominations. He is editor-in-chief of 3 poetry anthologies, all available on Amazon, and has several poetry books and chapbooks. He has over 453 published poems. Michael is the administrator of 6 Facebook Poetry groups. Member Illinois State Poetry Society:


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