Note From an Airplane Ride

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i sip the hot brew and i realize
the airline has upgraded brands
i say to myself,
this actually tastes like coffee

i look around and i see
that everybody has some sort
of electronic gadget

the man across the aisle from me
has his laptop open up and running,
he toggles from viewing his calendar
to writing his emails.

i say to myself,
i should have been a corporate spy.
he would have no clue,
spying not my thing, therefore,
i discard the thought.

i wonder if he’s writing his boss
an “i quit” letter,
now that’s the kind of letter i dream of

It is Peace that I Seek

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Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery
because he was a dreamer

how many more dreamers
will we sell out
how many more visionaries
will we slaughter
how much more stain
can our blood soaked hands bare

just how much more death
are we willing to claim

many years ago when i was young
my peers advised me to choose violence
as a means of avenging murder
the logic was
murderers do not respond to dreams
killers do not respond to vision
force is the only weapon they will respect

i said no
i will not answer murder with murder
i will not live as a murderer
i will not die as a murderer
it seems that job is already taken anyway
by so many others

it is peace that i seek

peace versus bloody conflict
love versus mad hatred
forgiveness versus lingering resentment
knowledge versus arrogant ignorance

these are the weapons i want to live with
these are the weapons i want to die with
until the moment
when justice and judgement prevail

In Memory of Dr. Martin Luther King

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The Ways of Peace

wage a war of peace
a war of peaceful ways
a war of peaceful means

let violence be validation of violent
let murder be mandate of murderers
let blood continually stain
bloody, blood soaked hands
but let conquerors wage war by means of peace

wage a war of peace
a war of peaceful ways
a war of peaceful means

let reputations of courageous be reputations of peace
let legacies of brave be legacies of peace
let ways of wise be peaceful ways
let days of strong be peaceful days

to the end so it is to always seek

let violent be violent
let murderers be murderous
let clamorers clamoring conflict clamor

but let wise, let strong, let brave,
let courageous champion
the ways of peace

 

by Jerry T. Johnson

(“Reprinted with the permission of Burningword Literary Journal and the author.”)

Hearing Cries For Help

i wonder if I can
hear cries for help?

children are drowning
and I can’t swim
aged widows are starving
and i can barely feed myself
orphans are naked
and my own threads are bare

can I hear cries for help?
if I hear, can I do anything to assist?
what must i do to add a little relief?
to provide blankets for shivering
encouragement for weary
morsels for mouths
nourishment for souls

if i became strong
i wonder if i could
hear cries for help?

if i became strong
will glint of ice
freeze my ears
my heart chained
by clinks of gold

The Lone Patron


–after Hemingway

one mile away from my apartment
after a Sunday afternoon one mile walk
i took a seat in the bar section
of a restaurant brick red painted
named after a well known
red breasted bird.

i wait and I write
while I wait for a late evening bus
that stops right in front of the eatery’s door
therefore, i could also have dinner
and get a ride when i am done.

i took a moment to reflect
on my surroundings and noted
the dark brown tall table stood tall before me.
music of all sorts and genre’s played around me.
not too soft, not too loud.

A tall glass of dark brown iced tea stood
tall on the tall dark brown table.
It was a glass half empty, my last for the day.
I was the lone patron in a compartment
cut off from diners in the dining hall.

as a enjoyed the solitude
of my comfortable calming space
I thought of a clean well-lighted place,
finished my writing, finished my dinner
then boarded the bus for home.

Mid-Winter Blues

In Minneapolis MN today
It’s currently 3 degrees Fahrenheit 
It’s warming up
It was zero degrees earlier
missing summer barbecues
missing my little grill on my patio
missing grilled burgers
missing grilled dogs
missing grilled veggies
missing grilled shrimp
missing sand on the beach
missing warm waves
and winter has just begun

Riding the Train at Night

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riding the train at night
listening to songs
that tell tales
of tragedy

nursing my own fatal flaws
as my electrified transporter
speeds
through purple trails
dotted with street lights

i reflect
upon miseries
of the weak
and chronically
disenfranchised
hungry widows
orphaned sons
orphaned daughters
fenced libraries
schools with chained doors
and the list goes on

as the train speeds
down the railway
the tears speed
across the tracks
of my face

Seated in the Concourse Again

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I’m sitting at a table in a restaurant. The restaurant is at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International. I sip a tall cold beer from a tall cold glass. I reflect as I sip. Hundreds walk through the busy concourse. I note the variety and the diversity of the individuals in the fast moving crowd. Some are tall and slender like I used to be. I’m still tall. I’m not slender anymore. I can thank these long tall cold ones for that. I hesitate before I take another sip.

I continue to watch the fast moving crowd. I continue to observe the diversity and the variety. I note different hairstyles. Some styles are long and straight. Some are long, black and curly like mine used to be. My hair is straight with a few tints of gray now. Just a few tints. Very few. When I go to the drugstore with my wife, I always end up in the “hair dye” aisle. That’s funny because I’m usually following her. The same thing happens when I’m following my nieces through the drugstores. I wonder if they are trying to tell me something?

I continue to reflect as I watch the diversity and the variety of the individuals in the fast moving crowd. What if we all were tall and lanky? What if we all bore long straight hair.? What if we all were one color? What if we all wore the same suit of the same fabric? What if we all walked at the same speed? Just how boring or just how odd would my people watching be.

I finish my long tall beer. I look at the gentleman seated to my right. He’s having a soda. I look at the lady seated to my left. She’s having an iced tea. Sweetened (We are in Georgia, you know). What if we all had the same taste? I pick up my backpack and sling it over my shoulder. I walk to my gate. It is time to board. I’m glad to watch and not be bored. I fully appreciate a world of diversity and variety.