VOICES FROM THE FIRE: Michael Lee Johnson

Waltz Footprints in Snow 

Care to dance a new waltz renew,

or drift back

to those old vintage footprints−

waltz with me

footprints in snow

fog covering over old snow.

Rose Petals in a Dark Room

I’m but a poet of this ministry,

rose petals in a dark room fall.

Everyone’s life is a conflict.

But mine is mastery of light and neon night

and I walk behind

these footsteps of no one.


In the rain,

this thunder

on his way home

he rebelled.

He a disco dancer,

High school dropout.

Even Jesus

Even Jesus suffers from the poor,

feels lonely on winter moon distant planets,

don’t torture Him. Let me drive you home.

Old Mack dump truck,

hear these sounds,

new records on this old radio.

Poetry Man

Death still comes in the shadow of grief,

hides beneath this blanket of time,

in the heat, in the cold.

Hold my hand on this journey

you won’t be the first, but

you may be the last.




The landlord is paying 

a visit this evening 

while I see him getting back 

into his shiny Ferrari 

playing with the dashboard 

outside my living room window

I got this notice between my fingers 

but don’t even have to open it 

to realize what this is again 

because if I listen carefully 

the other tenants give it away 

through the vents through the thin walls

with groans about less food 

on the dinner table

and sighs about hunting 

for yet another minimum wage job 

with wails about how to pay 

for cancer treatments now

and sobs about simply 

not wanting to live anymore

I stay silent 

crunch numbers upon numbers 

until my head swims in circles

while he finally speeds off  

down the street into the sunset 

the rooftop down 

blasting “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”



I was but thirteen years of age,

You called me a disgusting fag,

Not the kind you roll and toke,

But instead, the one butted in joke.

What a joke!?!

You were my mother; you should have known better

To ask a question you didn’t want answered.

Seeking labels confining letter…

…To openly evoke spell treatment of a leper

Shunned by the societies jagged tip, 

…A double-edged…


…disasters forked elegy..

Vibrating avalanches destructive lip.

Cracking without warning, thunder’s 

Unbolting divide,

Widening gap inside,

Luring me to the gates of war,

Weathering leathers branding scar,

Dragging me flip side down

Whittling time unknown

Burying chance in momentary anger,

Caverning conditions sibling fissure

To satisfy back wave hunger

…for meat tainted by beliefs toxic choke, 

…battered stroke after stroke…

And flavored in slavery’s lineage smoke.

Looking now to back then, watching, 


Your spin,



…moral squashing…

Seeing you act like a puppet in pin..

Recycling your programmin’.

Beating and agitating it in, …washers nonsense cycle,

Enslave… spin….cycle repeat…

Tearing apart my childhood room,

Swearing me to be my sister’s influential doom,

Convicting me of non-existent acts.

Hanging me on histories line,

..Shackling me to torture twine.





And fire..

Flamed without sin..

No moral win…


Weaving yourself fiction,

Back-peddling in..

Almost tripping…

In regrets retraction action..

Denying me merit of daily function:

Mother in your stead, sister, and protector.


Rather, claim me a monster.

Bearing the brunt of beatings for my sister,

Shielding her from time’s closet alligator

And worst of all, protected her from the huff of your blow

(Something I could not do forever).

Topsy turvy. 

Success and gratitude early.

Yup that was my fate surly.

You’d think…


You caused me the opposite somehow,

Wow!!! Just wow!!!

Targeted me as failure’s reason, 

…meriting scar’s loyal legion…

Blaming me for life’s lousy treason,

….winter, spring, summer, and fall.

Bouncing blames ball…


Tossed me tah excuse abuses reason,

Robbed me of childhoods spirited sow,

Billing me into responsibility beyond know, 

Dampening divinities, two-spirited glow.



My energy did go.

Nearly walking dead

But more likely a wolf, vampire bred.

Torn from all I knew 

Over a known identity that disgusted you

Of non-o-sexual in classification


…androgynous in interpretation


….Tomboy in presentation 

….Divine masculine and feminine.

Once revered, now..

Rewritten as an abomination,

Featured on horror tv station.

Postered and sold as dangerous in matter

….With warnings of my apocalyptic nature.




Nailed to oppression’s darkness

Pressed into slavery’s bloody grain, 


Tainting the pureness of my seed, 

Infusing it with violations stifling weed,

Enforcing confusion beyond life’s usual deed

In the name of conformities, misdeed.

With conflicting stride

You drowned me in fits of anger tide,

Resuscitated me cloaked as remorse’s bride,


…claiming love, but offering conditions broken thread


Spinning for yourself realities alternate web,

Attempting to veil everyone with you instead

Of accepting the fullness of cause in action view

And walking past judgement anew.



Only to later ask me again to forgive you,

Claiming you did not fully understand then what you now do?

You were torn in belief to the point of split, 

The Hyde in you wanted my freak to thrive,

But Jekyll wanted it to break and jive,

…..Jeckell jacketing my Hydes…


Bowing me in operation to fear’s queenly hive.

For something you instinctively knew

And didn’t need in question to pursue,

Punishing me for being a version of you 

That didn’t fit stereotypes limiting stew.


Can you blame me for an orientation

… Of no chemical obligation?

Blame me…

For not wanting to wear the

Shoes of hunter gatherer’s before me?


children early, 

Conforming to creation’s slavery?

You bore me as but a child,

A mother merely sixteen years old,

Burdened me with your life’s injury, painfully wild.

A product of 

Generational teenagers bearing offspring,

Decisions toned by traumas survival ring,

A restrictive primitive chain,

Locked in the fight or flight game,

Influencing societies turning grain.

I was punished for your pain.


For stepping outside society’s name.

Your actions moulded my process.

Seeking to understand the mess

I studied many ways of tradition,

Observed our family in question, 

Witnessed the oppressive tradition

Of being broken down till we turned to bottled gin.


Wishing not to ride my ancestral tracks

I determined at an early age 

It unwise to bring children into this cage, 

Noted my logical position be a nun,

A soldier holding a gun,

Or a hermit hidden from the sun.

Not of a homemaker playing procreation’s mage

Or rolled in constraint to the point of tv genie fame,

Forced to wield energy insanely lame

….poof…yes, master…poof…

…Narcissism mundane.

Chooo- chooo.

If creations story be one of fact and less of fiction,

Then, in my opinion….

Bearing children be one of immoral infliction,

Abusive to the point of addiction 

Andin a way self-consumption,

Not one of ethical creation.

Atom and Eve technically the same,

Eve being Atom’s clone isn’t that insane.

Humanity through he and she, then and after

Related in blood to each other,

Father being the mother 

and mother the being the father,

Sister and brother marrying one another,

Populating humanity through incest,

Diluting narcissisms broken nest

Is it really for me best?

To play the role defined by madness vest

Hiding my chi and conforming to chemical lust 

Simply because I have flowering breasts?

There is more than one way to plant a seed…

The physical nature is one of limited need.


I am you, and you are me,

I am a branch and root of your tree,

We exist as one in blood.

Moulded by your Mudd.

Through me, you survive

…As my blood, through my blood…

And through procreation physically survive, 

….bloody mess….

But what if procreation is wrong?

What if the point was to heal

And break the cycle aiming weakness at Achilles heel,

Causing us to birth and slave children to broken frequency?

It is said wounds in spirit physically manifest,

So, what if we are just wounds at best

And embracing our spirit is the authentic way to exist?

I love you, mother that is true, 

…possibly, because I suffer from Stockholm syndrome…

(But don’t we all on some level or another?)

…possibly, because you are me and 

I’m bound in cellular narcissism…

Does it matter?

All that is important is…

I know you did the best with the trauma that scarred you,

And if I another version of you, I wish not the same for me as you.

For us I wish a thriving chance

So please forgive me as I cut this branch

…release caboose…

….cut lose…

And consider the act of true love at its best,

I will take the lesson in the gift of my raising and put it to the test,

Find the balance between right-wing east and left-wing west, 

And grow my heart beyond limits chest, 

Embracing the androgynous nature of my godly self, 

Without accepting the label wrought in fear’s need to print, box 

And shelf.


VOICES FROM THE FIRE:Kenneth Vincent Walker

From Rome to Ruins

Impoverished beyond

Belief; where relief has

Long past been viable

Option over abject grief.

Ostensibly, refusing to

Cease, as Man’s greed

Always gets in the way

Of genuine prosperity.

For how can we binge

Drink at college when

Our world thirsts and

Hungers knowledge?

These words are far

More prophetic than

Profound as empires

Long thought stable

Topple to the ground.

Deception Island

We’ve nowhere else

To go while we’re so

Hopelessly adrift.

Our crippled ship is

Limping onward to

Deception Island.

The crisp Antarctic

Bitter winds are stiff

As our embattled

Vessel and famished

Crew who seek but

Shelter in safe harbor.

With no fanfare nor

Reception just barren

Rock and fear here 

On Deception Island. 

Point of No Return

Nearly at the tipping

Point, the decisive

Point of no return;

As our heart rate

Has increased and

Perspiration beads

Upon our brow, our

Shallow breath, our

Trembling knees, a

Loss of taste and

Smell which indeed

Are indicative of the

Disease in this the

Black Plague of the

Twenty first century.

Glassy Stare

There’s this glassy

Stare which is so

Prevalent these days

In oh so many eyes.

It’s the look of dire

Hopelessness and

Despair driven by

Fear that the future

Is lost and the youth

Have no say in the

Outcome of their lives.

It’s a hollow feeling

Physically expressed

That can’t be shaken or

Stirred by mere words

Disguised as empathy.

For what hope is there

For humanity while

There’s this glassy

Stare which is so

Prevalent these days In oh so many eyes



We exist in dimly lit, dingy, small rooms with painted block walls or some 2020 version of 70s wood paneling
Surrounded by wires, and machines, and monitors, and pseudo concerned individuals asking if you have not just a plan but means
Then we transition to cozy couches, zen gardens, and inspirational quotes for about an hour at a time talking about all the terrible shit in our lives
Struggling with how sad or suicidal we really are if the only thing stopping the finality of death being we worry about how others would be impacted
But we know this is not life
Or at least how we should exist
“Have you tried live, laugh, love” someone asks because Facebook told them to
We’ve probably tried it all short of recharging our vitality by sunning our assholes in the great wide open turning our rears to the sun
Well, some might have even done that
Tried everything, maybe even the drugs
Not the fun kind (but we’ve tried them too)
The prescribed meds
But only to stop or doubt the reward
I mean, at the end of the day, we still want to feel
To not be numb or blunted
And we want our dicks to still work
Put us in nature
Pound some drums and let us feel bass in our soles and souls
Be an ear
Be a shoulder
Be a presence
Just don’t be an asshole who tells me we are lucky we are privileged enough to be sad about shit because others have it worse and we will get better if we did something for ourselves and thought happy thoughts.
Let us express ourselves without it being perceived as hostility
Or weakness
Or being pussies who can’t “man up”
I cried today
I’ll cry again
Maybe even before lunch
Don’t look away or dismiss
Hand me a tissue
Better yet, keep the box for yourself and let me let them flow proudly
Just don’t expect any of this to actually cure or fix us
We just aren’t our best selves right now
But we are getting there
And if the product has some cracks we embrace it
It gives us character
It gives us history
It gives us hope because if we sealed them once before we can again
We ask you don’t walk for us
Walk with us
Walk away from us
Just don’t get in the fucking way

I’m 1 

Today, I celebrate my first birthday
Though I’ve been on earth about 40 years, a year ago I had a rebirth after complete immolation
It seems I was covered by someone else’s gasoline for so long
It’s almost like I had comfort in the suffocating fumes
Finally, like a protesting monk I decided to strike the match and bask in the incineration
It was like a warm hug I had been neglected of for so long
Excruciating at first, in fact, so bad that I had become numb
Unless that was just my nerve endings, the source of feeling, being destroyed
But I knew regeneration and healing would be on the horizon
And, if I was transformed to ash, possibly reincarnation
See, one can never avoid lies
One can never avoid manipulation and betrayal
One can never avoid being taken for granted
But my soul had learned it doesn’t need to tolerate it
And that moment created the spark that was catalyst for a new life

This is getting old and I ain’t getting younger either

woke up today
finally feeling
believed I just may have beaten the malaise
one hour and it’s back to normal
whatever that means
fight/flight activated
only semblance of drive is to exist
not thrive
and just barely
the type of state where I desire to reopen my wounds
of the metaphorical and literal
not to prove
not for spectacle
not for you
but for me
the sole purpose being
to bleed

Register 7

I see people at their worst
Confused and disoriented
Disorganized and delirious
Talking to Jesus
Being Jesus
Being Obama’s spouse
Refusing medication
Cursing, yelling, threatening
Punching and kicking objects
Punching and kicking walls
Punching and kicking…people
Throwing piss and shit
Eating staples and antennae and screws
Reopening scars and scabs that exist for years
And just as quickly as they enter my path
They are gone without a trace
And then one day they’re ringing me up at the grocery store
And I know, if even for just that single moment, they are doing

Superhuman Skin

I have superhuman skin
I can assist and rescue others with reckless abandon for my well-being
I can put on the suit and tie the boots tight and enter the world solely for others
I have no qualms about taking the words, the hits, the consequences when necessary

I have superhuman skin
except when I need a hero
My brain is a villain
My heart is a foe
My behaviors a nemesis
Enemies that sap my will and strength and leave me paralyzed in fear
I hold my kryptonite

So I have superhuman skin
until I need to wear it for me.

VOICES FROM THE FIRE: Chad Christopher Dixon


The Good Half

When you said you only wanted half of me,

did you mean the top or the bottom half?

Maybe you meant the outside half and not the inside half

Not the half that dives into the ocean but continually emerges the same person,

A salt-covered osprey shaking off the sand,

Looking you in the eye and asking you where you’ve been

Not the half that learned to fight like my mother with words that shoot to kill

No, you wanted the kill

The deer

The fawn falling softly on the mossy ground

Not the hoofs thrashing though the duff, stopping abruptly with her head raised sniffing the air

You wanted the half that flies, not the half that escapes

Fuck You for Dying


gouger of eyes

plucker of stars

clear girl, vanishing in smoke like a magic show


making a permanent mourning cross between my eyebrows

begging you, forever on the run like a wave, not to return the ocean

I have been known to say that yours was a windsong,

tall and stoic like a ceiba,

and dangerous like it too

then suddenly sad, like a long journey home from a joyous trip

Your body inhabited by echoes and maudlin voices,

and when we would least expect it, shielded under the covers with only a flashlight between us,

a bird would shift free from inside you and fly away leaving us both aghast and delighted

You and me–

a conversation between angels 

a violent sob before the sea, sad fury, unstoppable

we were made of everything

Dew Drops

My mother loved me hard enough to break my heart forever, 

to split it wide so that cedar and ironwood trees would root where the fault lines stood

she knew, even as I grew inside her, that I was her wish come true

her little girl

She named me after a soft morning shower, in the hopes that I would bring her peace

Instead, she has often been left to wonder where on earth I came from

and forced to be the impatient steward of my weird

hours spent searching for perfect baby girl dresses

that I eschewed for ripped t-shirts and bare feet

She used to pull me under the covers on Sunday mornings and wrap me up in her sheets

showing me, even then, that I am worth holding on to 

Her love is like sunlight, 

turning the watermark of expulsion and diaspora into something

unbent, beguiling yet somehow honest

shimmering in cloudy water,

the last gleaming thing in this gutted, splintered earth

Everybody Wants to Own Me

My independence looks a lot like fear when held up to the light

My readiness to accept that my hands are only a reflection of the baggage they carry

That I am only human, and I don’t know how to love you past my own risk—

It will get to you

You will want to be my savior, my medic 

And I will let you, I will use you as a door to somewhere out of here

Safe in your arms I will shed parts of me I thought I needed, one at a time like baby teeth 

Until what is left is the deepest naked, 

The final layer of consent 

You will be part of this moment that I chose

Until the next moment when I may choose to not include you,

And in that moment of change, will you have the courage to leave me alone?

Or will your hands clench to the strings of me

Clipping my wings

Stapling my feet to the ground

Tell me I cannot make it in this hard world without you

Will you say that I am only soft because the world told me to be a soft woman?

Or will you see that I am soft despite what this world has done to steal my softness?