• Michael Lee Johnson

Selected Poetry by Michael Lee Johnson

Photo Source: Pixabay

Kansas, Old Abandoned House

House, weathered,

bashed in grays, spiders,

homespun surrounding

yellows and pinks

on a Kansas,

prairie appears lonely tonight.

The human theater

lives once lived here

inside are gone now,

buried in the back, dark trail

behind that old outhouse.

Old wood chipper in the shed, rustic, worn, no gas, no thunder, no sound.

Remember the old coal bin, now open to the wind,

but no one left to shovel the coal.

Pumpkin patches, corn mazes, hayrides all gone.

Deserted ghostly children still swing abandoned in the prairie wind.

All unheated rooms

no longer have children

to fret about,

cheerleaders have long gone,

the banal house chills once again,

it is winter,

three lone skinny crows

perched out of sight

on barren branched trees silhouetted in early morning

hints of pink, those blues, wait with hunger strikes as winter

that snow starts to settle in against moonlight skies.

Kansas becomes a quiet place when those first snowfalls.

There is the dancing of the crows−

that lonely wind, that creaking of the doors, no oil in the joints.

Death Certificates

We all wait for our death certificates—

aging bodies, sagging arms,

necks with wrinkles.

We drag our bodies around shopping malls

in all shapes, funny forms, walk

around in tennis shoes early mornings.

Don’t stretch out here too far.

Just get our groceries,

see our grandchildren,

Lucky Charms, no witchcraft, but Jesus

finds our way home.


Old Irving Park,

Chicago neighborhood

Jasper lives in a garret

no bigger than a single bed.

Jasper, 69, clouds of smoke

Lucky Strike unfiltered cigarettes.

He dips Oreo cookies in skim milk.

Six months ago

the state revoked

his driver’s license-

between the onset

of macular degeneration,

gas at $4.65 a gallon,

and late-stage emphysema,

life for Jasper has stalled out

in the middle lane

like his middle month

social security check, it is gone.

There is nothing academic about Jasper’s life.

Today the mailbox journey is down

the spiraling stairwell; midway,

he leans against the wall.

Deep breathes from his oxygen tank.

Life is annoying with plastic tubes up his nose.

Relief, back in the attic, with just his oxygen tank,

his Chicago Cubs, losers, are playing

on his radio, WGN, 720 AM.

Equipment, enjoyment at last,

Jasper leans back in his

La-Z-Boy recliner.

He reaches for a new pack of Lucky Strike cigarettes.

Jasper grabs a lukewarm Budweiser beer from his mini-fridge.

Deep breathes, a match lite, near his oxygen tank.

Showers & Rain

I’d like to see you in showers,

shadows, memories, final hours

that end this rain.

Daisies reveal your simple secrets,

yellow perverted pleasures, complicated,

often unseen mysteries like

COVID-19 virus.

Forget your sins & dance with me.

All petals at some point fall

in season come to despair

same as a desperate ending.

I focus on memories now

represent all short stories shared,

a poem or two no one will remember,

a Hemingway legacy funeral,

one family member,

one suicide at a time.

Michael LeeJohnson 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 is published in more than 2033 new publications. His poems have appeared in 41 countries; he edits and publishes ten poetry sites. He is the administrator of six Facebook poetry groups; he has several new poetry chapbooks coming out soon. He has over 533 published poems to date. 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 thirty-one poetry videos are now on YouTube which can be found here. He is the editor-in-chief of the poetry anthologies Moonlight Dreamers of Yellow Haze, Dandelion in a Vase of Roses, and Warriors with Wings: The Best in Contemporary Poetry. He is also a member of the Illinois State Poetry Society. You can find his books on Lulu here.