Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Crossing a Border Divide

Tangerine Moon 
—Anonymous Photo
—Poems by Michael Lee Johnson, Itasca, IL


Alberta arctic chill freezes my life in exile.
North Saskatchewan River crystallizes froze thick.
My life entombed 10 years here, prairie path, those thorns,
a hundred threats US government, border checks run further north.
I stand still in exile, live my life in mixture of colors, lone wolf, tangerine moons,
hang nail in this corner of my bachelor suite sleep for years.
I close down curtains on this chapter with an amnesty agreement, a pledge.
I close down this sunspace, northern lights,
files I never burn draft card I never toss away.
Thieves, dawn passion, pack up start home tonight.
This hell hangs on my head passes to a halo, child, dream, and murders.
Let this flicker between notes and years die ignore spaces and pass.
Radio sounds, in my car, my ears, and blast old tunes
on my way back home, Indiana 1,728 miles away.



Why do old hens' cry—
socialize in familiar doctor offices.
The smell and the scent of times unchanged.
Those medical lab tests, the slap-on bandages;
those stale magazines, edges folded back, undeclared ownership.
Seek nuclei redemption in prayer books of the New Testament.
I find them there beside me in seated chairs and wheelchairs that roll.
Why do old hens' cry?
Those berries and nuts buried beneath their dentures.
Bingo dancers, Wednesday bingo players,
the old hens read books, the young folks’
handheld iPad wallet size,
space readers, internet of the universe unfolds.

—Anonymous Photo 


I laugh drunk
in the spirit, hands held high
Vodka vipers in air in prayer
invasion of the Pentecostal dancers,
baby rabbits holding hands in the aisle ways—
still no Jesus in the mushrooms
no Jesus in the Kale or Collard greens, or the red peppers,
two eggs yolks post notes up yellow like young breast
think they rule over my omelet, no cheddar cheese,
jaded and intoxicated.
I tinkle, shake it, and then bed, I go.


(Niles High School, Niles, Michigan)

You will find her here blowing soap bubbles,
chewing gum cigars, old-time candy and toy ass radio player.
Sara is still a cheerleader in mind,
chest player breast bare in pink station wagon,
front seats laded back.
Everything exposed was pink in 1965, popular.
Everyone high up was chest player academically,
low-end checker players were at miniature golf,
beneath blankets at US 31 outdoor theaters.
High school is a status golden whore passing daily in the hallways.
Sara flute blower in narrow dark and stashed in lover's lane,
the Junior prom never ended, the Senior prom never began.
Shades off, make-up smeared past midnight, broken gold chains, class rings lost,
class sweaters returned to sender, address unknown,
sex a touch and feel, poetic review, times.

 Draft Card, 1972
—Anonymous Photo


Crossing that Canadian line on a visitor pass,
that stretch across the border divide,
that makes a torn war wound, torn man free.
It made my feet new away from cinder on fresh grass.
Back home the sirens of war keep sounding off.
All us wearing the new/old bloodstains,
poetry images of erections of WW2, a real war.
Dirty hands your memories, red white and blue justifications, hell.
Who does not have memories, habits 1 or at least 2—
bad cinder charcoal in the dark flame.
September is early in Canada in October.
Leaves fall early swirling in the North,
October but at least the bullets cease.
Cast a poem you likely died in Vietnam come back wounded.
Come back home, alive and you likely live life, die wounded.
Here comes again the thunder, the rain, lightning,
war bore.
Crossing a border divide.


Welcome back to the Kitchen, Michael, and thanks for the fine poems! Michael Johnson was featured on Medusa on Jan. 7, 2015; scroll 'WAY down to Medusa’s archives and find the date there. Michael can also be heard from at and, as of 2015, he has over 83 poetry videos on YouTube at


Today’s LittleNip:
One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words.

—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe



 Michael Lee Johnson