November 4, 2015

Two poems by Michael Lee Johnson


Stretched across the ravine,
this walking bridge
is covered with snow.
Steam lifts from the narrow riverbed below.
The hand-guided ropes
are glazed over with ice.
Raccoon tracks are pepper sprinkled
in front of me like virgin markers
leaving a fresh, first trail.
Once across, and safe,
I toss yellow breadcrumbs across
white snow for starving birds.


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 red cinder land on fresh grass.
Back home the sirens of war keep sounding off,
like common masturbation from one decade to another.
All us wearing new/old bloodstains,
poetry images of erections coming up, WW2, a real war.
My dirty hands, on your hands, our memories shared red, white and blue justified, hell.
Who does not have memories, bad cinder charcoal smoke screen in the dark flame?
September comes early in Canada-October in the USA.
Leaves fall early swirling in touchdowns both sides of the border.
September north, but at least the bullets cease.
Cast a poem South, you likely die in Vietnam or come back wounded.
Cast a poem North, you likely suffer mental illness but come back on pills.
Here comes again, thunder, in the rain, stroke by lightening,
war bore crossing a border divide.

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. He edits 10 poetry sites. Michael is the author of The Lost American: "From Exile to Freedom", several chapbooks of poetry, including "From Which Place the Morning Rises" and "Challenge of Night and Day", and "Chicago Poems". He also has over 74 poetry videos on YouTube.


  1. Powerful words. As Graham Greene once wrote: How can life on a border be anything other than restless.

    1. The first one is lovely, too, but such a different feel!