Thursday, July 1, 2021





Native I Am, Cocopa (V3)


Now once-great events fading


into seamless history,


I am a mother, proud.


My native numbers are few.


In my heart digs many memories


forty-one relatives left in 1937.


Decay is all left of their bones, memories.


I pinch my dark skin.


I dig earthworms


farm dirt from my fingertips


grab native


Baja and Southwestern California,


its soil and sand wedged between my spaced teeth.


I see the dancing prayers of many gods.


I am Cocopa, a remnant of the Yuman family.


I extend my mouth into forest fires


Colorado rivers, trout-filled mountain streams.


I survive on corn, melons, and


pumpkins, mesquite beans.


I still, dance in grass skirts


drink a hint of red Sonora wine.



I am a mother, proud.


I am parchment from animal earth.


Note:  This is the story poem of the Cocopah Indian tribe and their journey over the years. The River People descended from the greater Yuman-speaking area, which occupied lands along the Colorado River. The Cocopah Indian tribe had no written language. However, historical records have been passed on orally and by outside visitors. Michael Lee Johnson lived ten years in Canada, Vietnam era.



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 see a 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)


By Michael Lee Johnson



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 the 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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