VOICES FROM THE FIRE: Michael Lee Johnson

Juice Box Girl

(After Midnight Moments)

I’m a juice box girl,

squeeze me, play me

like an accordion,

box-shaped, but gagged edges.

Breathe me inside out,

I’m nude, fruity, fractured,

strawberry melon,

nightshade wine.

Chicago, 3:00 a.m.

somewhere stranded

someone’s balcony

memories undefined,

you will find me there

stretched naked, doing

the Electric Slide,

taking morning selfies

upward morning into the sun

then in shutters

closeout pictures

Chiquita bananas, 

those Greek lovers

running late,

Little Village, Greektown

so many men’s night faces fading out.

Wash cleanse in me.

I’m no Sylvia Plath

in an oven image of death

I resuscitate; I’m still alive.

Sweet Nectar (V2)

Daddy wants to seea hummingbird.

Ruby-throated hummingbird

devil in feathers,

Illinois baby come to me

challenge my feeder

sip up, drain nectar,

no straw needed.

You are a master of your craft.

My thumb your measurements

your brain 1-grain size

white rice the same as mine.

Your vision impeccable 

clean your glasses thick and sticky,

murky migration into your

miracle little boy

prove 2 me you

are the real Wild Bill Hickok

dancing with your Calamity Jane

tick tock, a year there, year back,

3,000 miles across the saltwater

the route to Mexico, traveler

landing South America,

shake the dice toss them

you bandit.

Will you return hummingbird

daddy is on the blender,

mixing new formulas

bright new color nectar.

Rochdale College

Freedom School, I Exiled in Time

Toronto, Canada (1972)

Chased by this wild, I was a black wolf of time

freedom extinguished me-

I died on borrowed time,

I died on hashish,

I died on snorting cocaine,

I died on the “H” man, heroin,

LSD, acid passed around hallucinated me

into Disneyland without my house slippers.

I nearly jumped 18 floors without hemp,

straight down breaking through plate glass,

Jesus invisible was my invincible Superman.

I nearly died listening to 

American Woman, Guess Who,

they feed me downers for my overdose.

I nearly died in a small room

balling an unknown little bitch from Montreal.

All those little pills in dresser drawers, yellow, pink, and red.

I nearly died, Yonge Street, with hippy beads,

leather purse, belt, fake gold chain, and small pocket change.

I went the way I didn’t know where to go,

searching for heaven ending at entrance

hells gate, Mount Pleasant Cemetery.

Let me fluoresce, splatter red on the asphalt

of my exiled heart.

Let me follow the freedom school, 

Summerhill, England, free love.

(Note: Rochdale College was patterned after Summerhill School-

Democratic “freedom school” in England founded in 1921

by Alexander Sutherland Neill with the belief that the school

should be made to fit the child, rather than the other way around.)

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