the sun is sparkling, the rain rumbling, and we badly need some poetry...

Monday, 4 July 2011

Michael Lee Johnson - Three Poems

Charley Plays a Tune

Crippled, in Chicago,
with arthritis
and Alzheimer's,
in a dark rented room,
Charley plays
melancholic melodies
on a dust-filled
harmonica he
found  abandoned
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
celestial instrument
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.

Harvest Time

A M├ętis lady, drunk -
hands blanketed as in prayer,
over a large, brown fruit basket
naked of fruit, no vine, no vineyard
inside approaches the Edmonton,
Alberta adoption agency.
There are only spirit gods
inside her empty purse.

Inside the basket, an infant,
restrained from life,
with a fruity winesap apple
wedged like a teaspoon
of autumn sun
inside its mouth.
A shallow pool of tears
mounts in native blue eyes.
Snuffling, the mother offers
a slim smile, turns away.
She slithers voyeuristically
through near slum streets
and alleyways,
looking for drinking buddies
to share a hefty pint
of applejack wine.

Gingerbread Lady

Gingerbread lady,
no sugar or cinnamon spice;
years ago arthritis and senility took their toll.
Crippled mind moves in then out, like an old sexual adventure
blurred in an imagination of fingertip thoughts.
Who remembers the characters?
There was George, her lover, near the bridge at the Chicago River:
she missed his funeral; her friends were there.
She always made feather-light of people dwelling on death,
but black and white she remembers well.
The past is the present; the present is forgotten.
Who remembers Gingerbread Lady?
Sometimes lazy-time tea with a twist of lime,
sometimes drunken-time screwdriver twist with clarity.
She walks in scandals.
Her live-in maid smirked as Gingerbread Lady gummed her food,
false teeth forgotten in a custom-imprinted cup
with water, vinegar, and ginger.
Years ago, arthritis and senility took their toll.
Ginger forgot to rise out of bed;
no sugar, or cinnamon toast.