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A Few Select Poems by: Michael Lee Johnson, Itasca, IL. nominated for a Pushcart Prize award for poetry 2015.

I Work My Mind like Planet Earth (V2)

By Michael Lee Johnson
(Photo, Mp3,Available on Request)

I work my mind
inward into a corner of knots.
Depressed beneath brain bone
I work my words, they overwork me.
Fear is the spirit alone, away from God.
Hospital warriors shake pink pills,
rattle bottles of empty dreams.

I walk my ward down the daily highway;
I work the roadmap of spirit,
weed out false religions.
Only one God for so many
Twelve Step programs.
I wrap myself around support groups,
look for dependency within their problems.
I publish my poems, life works,
concerns on floor five, psych ward
I edit my redemption,
escape from the laundry room;
run around in circles like planet earth,
looking for my therapist
to seal my comfort.

Revised 2012

Charley Plays a Tune
By Michael Lee Johnson (V4)

Crippled, in Chicago,
with arthritis
and Alzheimer's,
in a dark rented room,
Charley plays
melancholic melodies
on a dust-filled
harmonica he
found  abandoned
on a playground of sand
years ago by a handful of children
playing on monkey bars.
He hears bedlam when he buys fish at the local market
and the skeleton bones of the fish show through.
He lies on his back, riddled with pain,
pine cones fill his pillows and mattress;

praying to Jesus and rubbing his rosary beads
Charley blows tunes out his
celestial instrument
notes float through the open window
touch the nose of summer clouds.
Charley overtakes himself with grief
and is ecstatically alone.
Charley plays a solo tune.


Harvest Time  (V8)
By Michael Lee Johnson

A M├ętis lady, drunk-
hands folded, blanketed as in prayer
over a large brown fruit basket
naked of fruit, no vine, no vineyard
-approaches the Edmonton,
Alberta adoption agency.
There are only spirit gods
inside her empty purse.

Inside the basket, an infant,
restrained from life,
with a fruity winesap apple
wedged like a teaspoon
of autumn sun
inside its mouth.
A shallow pool of tears mounts

in his native baby blue eyes.
Snuffling, the mother offers
a slim smile, turns away.
She slithers voyeuristically
through near slum streets
and alleyways,
looking for drinking buddies
to share a hefty pint
of applejack wine.

(Revised 2012)




  1. I just love "CHarley Plays a tune". Its pure beggars poetry; expressing the thoughts, purity, and struggles of Charley. Well written art!

  2. Thank you for the compliment, sorry I missed it till now, 04-01-14. Michael Lee Johnson, the Itasca, IL poet.