Two Poems by Michael Lee Johnson
Poets Out of Service (V6)
Like a full-service gas station
or postal service workers
displaced, racing to Staples retail
for employment against the rules of labor,
poets are out of business nowadays, you know.
Who carries a loose change in their pockets?
Who tosses loose coins in their car ashtray anymore?
iPhones, smartphones, life is a video camera
ready to shoot, destroy, and expose.
No one reads poets anymore.
No one thumbs through the yellow pages anymore.
Who has sex in the back seat of their car anymore,
just naked shots passed around online?
Streetwalkers, bleach blonde whores,
cosmetic plastic altered faces in the neon night;
they don’t bother to pick pennies
or quarters off the streets anymore.
The days of surprise candy bags for a nickel
pennies lying on the countertop for
Tar Babies, Strawberry Licorice Laces
(2 for a penny), Wax Lips, Pixie Sticks,
Good & Plenty are no more.
Everyone is a dead-end player; he dies with time.
Monster technology destroys crump fragments of culture.
Old age is a passive slut; engaging old age
conversations idle to a whisper and sleep alone.
Matchbox, hand-rolled cigarettes,
serrated, slimmed down, and gone.
Time is a broken stopwatch gone by.
Life is a defunct full-service gas station.
Poets are out of business nowadays.
Nightlife Jungle Beat,
Bar Next Door (V2)
Like all thing’s life changes, its melodies fragment.
It breaks pieces apart, then they drift, then shatter.
The singers of songs love bars,
naked bodies, consistencies, and inconsistencies
that makes it burn all turn outright at night.
They like to drum repeat rhythms and sounds.
Poets like to retreat to dens
of pleasure just like these.
Sing poets sing off-key
free verse notes down by the bridge,
near the river as far as their voices
will carry them away.
It is the nature of difference,
indifference a vocabulary of us confused,
minds between insanity and genius.
The hermit asks for
a public forum in shyness,
while treading to the bar
next door for a shot of tequila
no money, no life.
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