Poetry from Michael Johnson

Native I Am, Cocopa (V3)

By Michael Lee Johnson

Now once-great events fading

into seamless history,

I am a mother, proud.

My native numbers are few.

In my heart digs many memories

forty-one relatives left in 1937.

Decay is all left of their bones, memories.

I pinch my dark skin.

I dig earthworms

farm dirt from my fingertips

grab native

Baja and Southwestern California,

its soil and sand wedged between my spaced teeth.

I see the dancing prayers of many gods.

I am Cocopa, a remnant of the Yuman family.

I extend my mouth into forest fires

Colorado rivers, trout-filled mountain streams.

I survive on corn, melons, and

pumpkins, mesquite beans.

I still dance in grass skirts

drink a hint of red Sonora wine.

I am a mother, proud.

I am parchment from animal earth.

Note:  This is the story poem of the Cocopah Indian tribe and their journey over the years. “The River People descended from the greater Yuman-speaking area, which occupied lands along the Colorado River, and the Cocopah Indian tribe had no written language. However, historical records have been passed on orally and by outside visitors.” Michael Lee Johnson lived ten years in Canada, Vietnam era.

Juice Box Girl

(After Midnight Moments)

By Michael Lee Johnson

I‘m a juice box girl,

squeeze me, play me

like an accordion,

box-shaped, but gagged edges.

Breathe me inside out,

I’m nude, fruity, fractured,

strawberry melon,

nightshade wine.

Chicago, 3:00 a.m.

somewhere stranded

someone’s balcony

memories undefined,

you will find me there

stretched naked, doing

the Electric Slide,

taking morning selfies

upward morning into the sun

then in shutters

closeout pictures

Chiquita bananas, 

those Greek lovers

running late,

Little Village, Greektown

so many men’s night faces fading out.

Wash cleanse in me.

I’m no Sylvia Plath

in an oven image of death

I resuscitate; I’m still alive.

Sweet Nectar (V2)

By Michael Lee Johnson

Daddy wants to see a hummingbird.

Ruby-throated hummingbird

devil in feathers,

Illinois baby come to me,

challenge my feeder

sip up, drain nectar,

no straw needed.

You are a master of your craft.

My thumb your measurements

your brain 1-grain size

white rice the same as mine.

Your vision impeccable 

clean your glasses thick and sticky,

murky migration into your

miracle little boy

prove 2 me you

are the real Wild Bill Hickok

dancing with your Calamity Jane

tick tock, a year there, year back,

3,000 miles across the saltwater

the route to Mexico, traveler

landing South America,

shake the dice toss them

you bandit.

Will you return hummingbird

daddy is on the blender,

mixing new formulas

bright new color nectar.

Rochdale College

Freedom School, I Exiled in Time

By Michael Lee Johnson

Toronto, Canada (1972)

Chased by this wild, I was a black wolf of time

freedom extinguished me-

I died on borrowed time,

I died on hashish,

I died on snorting cocaine,

I died on the “H” man, heroin,

LSD, acid passed around hallucinated me

into Disneyland without my house slippers.

I nearly jumped 18 floors without hemp,

straight down breaking through plate glass,

Jesus invisible was my invincible Superman.

I nearly died listening to 

American Woman, Guess Who,

they feed me downers for my overdose.

I nearly died in a small room

balling an unknown little bitch from Montreal.

All those little pills in dresser drawers, yellow, pink, and red.

I nearly died, Yonge Street, with hippy beads,

leather purse, belt, fake gold chain, and small pocket change.

I went the way I didn’t know where to go,

searching for heaven ending at entrance

hells gate, Mount Pleasant Cemetery.

Let me fluoresce, splatter red on the asphalt

of my exiled heart.

Let me follow the freedom school, 

Summerhill, England, free love.

(Note: Rochdale College was patterned after Summerhill School-

Democratic “freedom school” in England founded in 1921

by Alexander Sutherland Neill with the belief that the school

should be made to fit the child, rather than the other way around.)

Michael Lee Johnson lived ten years in Canada during the Vietnam era and is a dual citizen of the United States and Canada.  Today he is a poet, freelance writer, amateur photographer, and small business owner in Itasca, DuPage County, Illinois. Mr. Johnson published in more than 2,013 new publications, and his poems have appeared in 40 countries; he edits, publishes ten poetry sites. Michael Lee Johnson has been nominated for 2 Pushcart Prize awards poetry 2015/1 Best of the Net 2016/2 Best of the Net 2017, 2 Best of the Net 2018. 

Two hundred twenty-six poetry videos are now on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/user/poetrymanusa/videos. Editor-in-chief poetry anthology, Moonlight Dreamers of Yellow Haze:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/1530456762; editor-in-chief poetry anthology, Dandelion in a Vase of Roses available here https://www.amazon.com/dp/1545352089.