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‘Chicago Street Preacher’ and other poems by Michael Lee Johnson

By: Michael Lee Johnson

Chicago Street Preacher (V4)

Street preacher
server of the Word,
pamphlet whore, hand out
delivery boy,
fanatic of sidewalk vocals,
banjo strummer, seeker of coins,
crack cocaine and salvation within notes.
Camper on 47th from Ashland
to California promoting his
penniless life, gospel forever
Kingdom drifter here comes your reward.


Fig Tree (V2)

Fig tree, fruit to all those
come and gone,
stare down your branches
with your human eyes:
God give us this day;
distressed fathers,
deceased mothers-
children chatter on sidewalks,
play hopscotch.
In the forest, construction men
cut the wood, make naked landscapes-
strong men, strong lives.
We all stop to contemplate
this theorem.


Reincarnation (V4)

Next life I will be a little higher up the pecking order.
No longer a dishwasher at the House of Pancakes
or Ricky’s All Day Grill, or Sunday night small dog thief.
I will evolve into the Prince of Bullfrogs. Crickets don’t bother me.
Swamp flies don’t bother me–I eat them. Alligators I avoid.
I urinate on lily pads, mate across borders and continents at will.
Someone else from India can wash my dishes for me.
Forward all complaints to the Ministry of Religious Affairs.



Lorie, you want to see me clearly
through this joy of my naked body
avoiding the sweat of my emotions,
just breathing on my neck
rubbing this baseline of my groin-
will not find us here again.
Go away, leave me thinking
louder than your breath-
body moves quietly
in a lazy sway of indifference.

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