Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Poems On Our Doorstep

—Poems by Michael Lee Johnson, Itasca, IL

(Tribute:  Aldo Leopold)

Dead grey wolf skins hang
on white clotheslines across Baraboo, Wisconsin
the dark surface, dirty old shack, side of the moon,
that only exists in memories hung high, long before.
Hunters in the past did their job well,
sold skins, collected a few bucks,
increased deer for hunting, saved cattle,
decreased fear, told tales, short stories, adventures.

The grey wolf face now emergent,
opens his mouth wide in the safety
open in blue sky.
Shows his white teeth against
background of black sky, shadow,
hears thunder again, releases
fireflies at night, monarch butterflies
during the day, guts down pine tree spikes.
He walks once again over landscapes of turquoises.
He consumes dirt road dust, tracks trails, 114.4 miles from Milwaukee to Baraboo.
His keen eyes are sharp for growth of skyscraper, Pabst brewery building.
Traveling side roads over many years brings him to the present.
No more violators, hunters with guns, fake Jesus people
slender in His bathrobe Christ repeats two fishes, 5 loaves and the wolf survives.

Aldo Leopold feeding inmate in small jail cells only kills a few wolves for research.
Aldo a Saint of conservation a consumer of cigarettes and butts,
heart wings of doves attached, broken, stroke fire, a neighbor field
heart stroke drops into history.

Aldo Leopold (January 11, 1887-April 21, 1948) was an American author, scientist, ecologist, forester, environmentalist, and conservationist.  In the 1920-1930 eras, he moved to the Baraboo, Wisconsin area.  The grey wolf was viewed as a predator, to be killed and sold for their skins.  Even then, the grey wolf population was diminishing.  Leopold help restore the value and dignity of the grey wolf to Wisconsin farmers and residents. 


If you find
no poem on
your doorstep
in the morning,
no paper, no knock on your door,
your life poorly edited
but no broken dashes
or injured meter—

if you do not wear white
satin dresses late in life
embroidered with violet
flowers on the collar;
nor do you have
burials daily
across main street—

if no one whispers
in your ear, Emily Dickinson—
you feel alone—
but not reclusive—
the sand child
still sleeping in your eyes—
wiping your tears away—

if you find
no poem on
your doorstep—you know
you are not from New England.


(Devoted to John Nash, A Beautiful Mind Movie, 2001)

I am a chalkboard computer brain.
I have updated drawn raw
images even the classroom
students cannot see, hear, nor understand.
They sit quietly in Disneyland
wondering about my eccentricities
I capture their stillness, and then I speak.
I am the professor, special agent of government
dream tracer of crossroad puzzles.
Photographic memory in private rooms,
did I hear a critic, erase
destroy dissociate thoughts.
I walk out unsteady in disbelief.
Is there a shadow of storybooks following me?

I am a genius; I know who I am.
I spend nights in formula construction
drawing full color images of my brain,
percentages of gray matter lost.

I stick my ego to the bird eagle of the sky.

When on a high on an airplane, self-love,
full bloom, I keep my enemies at bay.
I shelter the skeletons of thought.

I trust Jesus because His image is stable,
every group I have ever known says "The Lord's Prayer."
Even then, new members leave, disappear, I hear what they said.
I had an MRI to trace all my youthful abuses.
There were no images there but voices I remember.
I cast their shadows, audio, visual for show, in the background.
In time, they quiet their voices.  I walk beyond their images.
I pass on, they still screenplay.

You have to stretch lean, refer to sanity,
drink Asian tea, smooth out, limejuice, hallucinated sounds
before that stage, I took that Nobel prize,
even before, I forgave you.

John Nash has suffered most of his life with severe paranoid schizophrenia and has gone on to be a celebrated American mathematician whose works in game theory, and differential geometry are appreciated around the world.  The movie, A Beautiful Mind, portrays Nash's mathematical genius and his struggles with schizophrenia and how he went on to win a Nobel Prize.


Sinners hurt.
Moonlight cracks open
like a walnut, spreads soft light across open sky.
Sinners hurt.
They dart to alleyways, bury themselves behind
their own trails shaking fists at the sky;
hiding their nasty nonsense in shame,
city buildings rattle their bricks, mortar loose at their rib cage.
Where do sinners break out from when their deeds exposed?
All men think they are sword men daggers in darkness.
All women think they are entry points leaning against brick walls,
slender on sidewalks past midnight,
nothing but shadows, twitching of lips.
Women look for drawing cards in their makeup kits.
No one cares jackals, scavengers, men tempted by night.
Thunder dreams hammer at their ears,
rain urinate sins on street corners,
mice crawl away to small places shamed.
Footsteps scatter directions as sunlight sprouts.
Misdeeds carry no names with them
they trip blind, racing to morning jobs.

Early morning crows fly.
Sin hurts staples in women's lungs, staples dagger in men's ribs.


Today's LittleNip:

105 years old today
Possum Slim finally
gets his GED,
drinks gin,
talks with the dead.
“Strange kind of folks
come around here,
strange ghosts”
he says, “come
creeping pretty regular.
Just 2 ghosts,
the only women I ever loved,
the only women I ever shot dead.”


Michael appeared in Rattlesnake Review 'way back when (Issues #18 and #23), and now he has joined us in the Kitchen. Welcome to the Kitchen, Michael Lee! Michael Lee Johnson lived ten years in Canada during the Vietnam era: now known as the Illinois poet, from Itasca, IL. Today he is a poet, freelance writer, photographer who experiments with poetography (blending poetry with photography), and small business owner in Itasca, Illinois, who has been published in more than 875 small press magazines in 27 countries, plus he edits 9 poetry sites. Michael is the author of The Lost American: From Exile to Freedom and several chapbooks of poetry, including From Which Place the Morning Rises; Challenge of Night and Day; and Chicago Poems. He also has over 71 poetry videos on YouTube. Read Michael's poetry elsewhere:


Note also that we have a new photo album on Medusa's Facebook page ( Women's Wisdom Project at SPC by Michelle Kunert. And the poetry scene has started to heat up again after the holiday season: scroll down to the blue board (under the green board on the right) for all the haps!



Michael Lee Johnson