M.L.J., 73, a poet in Itasca, IL

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Michael Lee Johnson lived ten years in Canada, Vietnam era. Today he is a poet in Itasca, DuPage County, Illinois, published in 1098 small press magazines in 40 countries; 221 YouTube poetry videos. He has been nominated for 2 Pushcart Prize awards poetry 2015/1 Best of the Net 2016/2 Best of the Net 2017, 2 Best of the Net 2018. 

Virus in the Air, Spasms in my Back

By Michael Lee Johnson

There’s a virus in the air, but I can’t see it.

People are dying around me, but I can’t save them.

There are spikes pierced in my back,

spasms, but I can’t touch them.

Heartbeats, hell pulsating, my back muscles,

I covet in my prayers.

I turn right to the left, in my bed, then hang still.

Nails impaled, I bleed hourly,

Jesus on that cross.

Now 73 years of age, my half-sister 92,

told me, “getting old isn’t for sissies.”

I didn’t believe her—

until the first mimic words

out of “Kipper” my new parakeet’s mouth,

sitting in his cage alone were

“Daddy, it’s not easy being green.”

[submitted on 12/18/2020]

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Life in Quarantine: Witnessing Global Pandemic is an initiative sponsored by the Poetic Media Lab and the Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis at Stanford University.

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