Michael Lee Johnson
No One Cares
No one cares
I sit in my 2001 Chevy S10 truck drunk on smoked salmon vodka,
writing this poem on Subway sandwich napkins.
No one cares my life insurance policy is a carburetor
full of fumes, worn out filters, filled casket.
No one cares Nikki my cat; 19-year-old veteran, no bills, no veterinarian visits.
Jesus is a stray cat and a life of His own.
No one cares no one has adequate health care, deductibles clauses, debt.
No one cares Mr. Skunk travels nightly tail up passing
steam by my balcony window 3 A.M. farting both sides of his glands, anal release.
No one cares I still have microcassette recorders, obsolete,
old mini cassettes not found any more Wal-Mart, Target stores.
No one cares poetry-writing compounds saints, sinners, nightmares,
thoughts, twists insanity inward a lonely bitch curls.
No one cares lines of life too long, house of David too short.
Vampire is history drunk on blood, innocent-
shacks overload detail, house of horrors-
antique images, draft dodgers, war hero memories passed out.
I clutch Niles high school 1965 Memory Book $25 paid
between years past, many hearts gone-
I face thrombosis bulging encore in my right leg.
I failed English class. I slept through business class next to Tommy James.
Rock star to be he slept, my head down desk, I looked back up cheerleaders legs.
No one cares I nearly flunked high school,
rode 35 mph in John Hibbard's candy apple red Mercury Cougar.
Even in high school, there were stoplights, cheap gas.
No one cares John's parents, both, hated me.
I see shadows, days as old memories, unjust wars, antique Studebaker Larks.
Life is a worn out tread tire, rusted rims, steel now in junkyards.
Niles High School, August 15 2015, 50th reunion
sees you all there-memories, faces most forgotten.
Revising this poem backward confused with tenses,
no one cares, I sit in my 2001 Chevy S10 truck
drunk again smoked salmon vodka.
I have always hated the rules.
Little penis travels in the dark.
The Drifter ☊
The drifter in the room is a stranger,
he is crazy, is Bigfoot with deer moccasins on−
monster of condominium rooms and dreams.
The drifter in this room used to be my friend.
He spoke straight sentences, they did not sound like poetry-
reverberated like a narrative, special lines good a few bad,
or stories being unwound by the tongue of a gentleman,
lip service, juggler of simple words to children.
The night is a dark believer in drifters,
they sound sober, affairs with the wind,
the 3 A.M. honking of the Metro trains.
Everything sleeps with a love, a nightmare at night.
Poem of Sinners and Saints
Moonlight cracks open
like a walnut, spreads soft light across open sky.
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.
If You Find No Poem
If you find
no poem on
in the morning,
no paper, no knock on your door,
your life poorly edited
but no broken dashes
or injured meter
you do not wear white
satin dresses late in life
embroidered with violet
flowers on the collar;
nor do you have
across main street,
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
you are not from New England.
Apparently, David ☊
There are categories of hell here.
David died of
chronic liver disease
February 28, 2012.
David’s drinking became his sin.
Sin is the crack of the Devil's butt.
It tossed a good man into hell.
Dandelions faded with him when
the burning began.
His widow was a chronic bitch.
Locals called her "Nightmare Boogie."
His wife of 14 years
celebrated his passing;
she pissed on his pictures.
She was simple, mindless.
Her life was understated, full of fragments.
She got drunk on the night David died.
She thought it was butterscotch wine.
Confused, Cherry Lee, kept it simple;
she recognized the mix up,
it was butterscotch schnapps.
Either way, Cherry Lee helped
evaporate David's heart.
There were no memorial services.
David's ashes are still in a fruit box;
mounted on the top of her toilet bowl.
No urn, present or past tense.
No obituary, too late.
Only a label, a tag on the cinerarium stating:
"this is David's discount Funeral Home."
Fact, I am a newspaper reporter.
I am a chronic drunk.
There are no survivors here.
Possum Slim ☊
105 years old today
Possum Slim finally
gets his GED,
talks with the dead.
“Strange kind of folks
come around here,
he says, “come
creeping pretty regular.
Just 2 ghosts,
the only women I ever loved,
the only women I ever shot dead.”
Picture, Cap and Gown
Cap and gown
minor in math-
the maple tree,
bright red leaves,
but the times don’t show it;
a full face grins.
There’s a shadow
below your nose
above your lips,
it settles into
a gray mixed day.
You stand on farm land
with no plow in hand
or in the distance bare-
no damn cows to be seen
no red barn or damn homestead
just open acres of space-
and downed fences-
and some idle brush
blending with quill feathers
flushed within a background
Life is a simple picture.
Life is a simple picture,
repeating with tree shadows
hovering around leaves.
Dirt in the background
it’s here your memories are folded,
into prairie winds.
You are still framed
in solid black and white-
you can’t leave this space on your own,
from now to your own eternity,
to your salvation or your grave.
Your whole life now has spots
and spaces behind it.
Did you grow older and have children?
Did you marry a man of the plow
or that chemist you had the brief
affair with in agricultural school?
Did the graduation certificate
rolled up in your hand
like a squashed turnip,
donut, or dead sea scroll
fade by moisture and sun
or wind up cursed with sand?
I pull down your life
and frame it here
like a stage curtain
handful of future,
present, passed, and pasted
in a space dimension of
3” x 5” tucked beneath
a simple footnote in time.
Young and Resisting (Pre Exile-Vietnam War)
Eyes of anguish, heart of pain,
my homeland I despair.
My dreams I see before my eyes
a cabin in Northern lands;
snow bounded passages with mounting drifts
where lonely hearts meet, exiled,
I twist my shapes, confused, alone;
isolation is the mode of life,
no paths to plow but my own.
My eyes see universalities of hidden truths,
here lodge the changeless values.
Fringe, frigid, grief within the breeze
left to reckon with despondencies
of winters gone by;
with patriotism yet
I'm stashed away.
This wilderness avant-garde,
here now, alone, breathing
I'm now a Canadian in this Northern land.
Fig tree, fruit to all those
come and gone,
stare down your branches
with your human eyes:
God give us this day;
children chatter on sidewalks,
In the forest, construction men
cut the wood, make naked landscapes:
strong men, strong lives.
We all stop to contemplate
The Seasons and the Slants
I live my life inside my patio window.
It’s here, at my business desk I slip
into my own warm pajamas and slippers-
seek Jesus, come to terms
with my own cross and brittle conditions.
Outside, winter night turns to winter storm,
the blue jay, cardinal, sparrows and doves
go into hiding, away from the razor whipping winds,
behind willow tree bare limb branches-
they lose their faces in somber hue.
Their voices at night abbreviate
and are still, short like Hemingway sentences.
With this poetic mind, no one cares
about the seasons and the slants
the wind or its echoes.
I live my life inside my patio window.
Charley Plays a Tune
Crippled, in Chicago,
in a dark rented room,
on a dust-filled
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
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.