Sunday, June 8, 2014

Two poems by Michael Lee Johnson

I’m an Indian Story 

I’m an Indian story,

plastered on white sheets

of Caucasian paper.

I feel the white man’s presence

in my blindness-

he crosses over my ego

and urinates over my pride-

I cooperated with him till

death and blindness.

I’m Blackfoot proud,

mountain Chief.

I roam southern Alberta,

toenails stretched to Montana,

born on Old Man River−

prairie horses leftover

buffalo meat in my dreams.

Eighty seven I lived in a cardboard shack.

My native dress lost in autistic babbling.

I pile up treaties with the white man.

Now at 94, I prepare myself an ancient pilgrimage,

back to papoose, landscapes turned over.

I walk through this death in baby steps,

no rush , no fire, nor wind, hair tangled−

earthly possessions strapped to my back rawhide−

sun going down, the moon going up,

witch hour moonlight.

I’m an old man slowly dying.

Chief nobody.

An empty bottle of Brandy

lies on the homespun rug,

a partially smoked homemade cigar-

barely burning.

Alberta, Montana, Indian story short.


Subway India

Every two to three miles

you’re in India again-

in another subway store

in a back room and you will

find a recent family camping out there

faking fraud visas doing final touch up

on work permits and

figuring out how to avoid taxes;

or get the next boat load over

to start a new store.

$650 worth of retail sales a day

feeds a family of six for a week.

Incense ruminate and permeate

over and over again, creep out as

silk smoke to the front counter area,

merges into my spicy Italian sandwich.

Daily they work, waiting for work or life to end.

They ship back the lifeless bodies

to India to float freely in the Ganges River

intertwined in memories, hopes, and fears.

Relatives congregate on it banks, bathe,

place the body on a wooden float, pull

twigs and river grass from the river bank,

light the fire, incinerate the charcoal,

float the body, toss remnants into the river,

turn faces down and walk away.

The Ganges is a sacred cesspool.

Back at the subway store

a new day begins.

A time tested ritual continues.

Michael Lee Johnson on YouTube

Author bio:

MICHAEL LEE JOHNSON lived ten years in Canada during the Vietnam era.  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 750 small press magazines in 26 countries, he edits 7 poetry sites.  Michael is the author of The Lost American:  From Exile to Freedom (136 page book), several chapbooks of poetry, including From Which Place the Morning Rises and Challenge of Night and Day, and Chicago Poems.  He also has over 69 poetry videos on YouTube.

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