I’m a Riverboat Boy, Poem on Halsted Street (V2)

As sure as church bells

Sunday morning, ringing

on Halsted near State Street, Chicago,

these memories will

be soon forgotten.

I stumble in my life with these words like broken sentences.

I hear and denounce myself in the distance,

mumbling chatter off my lips.

Fragments and chips.

Swearing at the parts of me I can’t see;

walking away rapidly from the spiritual thoughts of you.

I’m disjointed, separated from my Christian beliefs.

I feel like I’m at the bottom of sin hill

playing with my fiddle, flat fisted, and busted.

So, you sing in the gospel choir; sang in Holland,

sang in Belgium, from top to bottom,

the maps, continents, atlas are all yours.

I detach myself from these love affairs drive straight, swiftly,

to Hollywood Casino Aurora.

Fragments and chips.

I guess we gamble in different casinos,

in different corners of God’s world,

you with church bingo, and I’m a riverboat boy.

No matter how spiritual I’m once a week on Sundays,

I can’t take you where my poems don’t follow me.

Church poems don’t cry.


Family Feud


in the rain,


bolt angular lightning

slithers away west.


nanosecond flash

family memories,



tautology fault of style

acerbic chats

daggers in heart these words,


dicey dungeon sharp spike.

A labyrinth, ruined passages,

secret chambers, cellmates, now

for life.

Wind storms move away,

young willow trees natter—

smallest branches, still snap.


I am the Dustman, Clutter Collector (V3)


I am the dustman.

I am this lazy spirit

roaming, living within you

weaving around your mind,

vulture consuming cleaning

thoughts, space, your slender body.

I feel it all day,

this night alone.

I am your street sweeper,

garbage collector of thought the alternator

village dweller, walkway partner.

I am key door holder to entrance

man, to Summit house.

For years of abuse, I am dust eater.

I hang high outside on lampposts,

edged inside on top wall pictures.

I dim your lights yellow inside out,

ghost inspector.

Inside I roll the house over.

I am a damp cloth, Mr. Clean,

I smooth over, clutter-free,

tick-tock clocks, books,

antique silverware,

pristine future furniture pieces

solid state advances

fragment mistakes etched in mind.

Investigations exacerbate our relationship

unhinged. My snaking gets me kicked out.

I still remember those piled up old newspapers,

future books, scattered across your

living room floor.

Shake me, scrape out a new home,

cheaper, exasperated.

I am the dustman; dustpan shakes out.


Michael Lee Johnson 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 published in more than 1072 new publications, and his poems have appeared in 39 countries, and he edits and publishes ten poetry sites. 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 seven poetry videos are now on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/user/poetrymanusa/videos. Editor-in-chief poetry anthology, Moonlight Dreamers of Yellow Haze: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1530456762; editor-in-chief poetry anthology, Dandelion in a Vase of Roses available here https://www.amazon.com/dp/1545352089.  Editor-in-chief Warriors with Wings: The Best in Contemporary Poetry, http://www.amazon.com/dp/1722130717.


https://www.lulu.com/shop/search.ep?keyWords=Michael+Lee+Johnson&type=  Member, Illinois State Poetry Society.  Do not forget to consider me for Best of the Net or Pushcart nomination!

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