Poetry and Prose by JJ Johnson
Seeds and Weeds challenges the mind and heart to find a better way through philosophical contemplation, observations and feelings on the rise and fall of character, creatively expressed in rhyme and reason. These poems are more than simply a collection of verse with splashes of imagery, and could not be conjured from the casual observations on life that some would accept as poetic inspiration. They are the raw emotions articulated in words that reflect a lifetime of experiences. Seeds And Weeds offers progressive views on racism, peace, nature, faith, family, friendship, introspection, and artistic inspiration. The poetry and prose here is sometimes harsh, but always honest while digging deeply into the essence of artistic creation.
Life Is An
Ocean was inspired by the life and words of Christopher Reeve. Chris and his
wife Dana are now reunited in Heaven, two super heroes in life who did not back
down in the fight against ailment and ignorance. In his final interview
with Barbara Walters on 20/20 one year before he died, Reeve said: "Being
physically paralyzed for eight years, I get pretty impatient with people who are
able-bodied but are somehow paralyzed for other reasons. You know, all the
reasons people don't become what they could become or don't fulfill their
potential, and they're walking around able-bodied, I'm going, 'come on, come on,
go for it."
couple of months before Dana Reeve died from lung cancer, I saw a commercial on
tv following an episode of Smallville for the Superman tags being offered for a
donation to the Christopher Reeve Foundation. The donations go towards helping
those recovering from spinal cord injuries live a more independent life. Having
worked with people in similar situations, recovering from brain injuries at both
Northwoods and Living Resources, I know exactly the sorts of things that this
money is going for and I know how important it is to those it helps. That is why
I made a donation. The tags are a nice bonus and the thing I like about them is
that when people see mine, they ask about them. Spreading the word becomes a
seed of awareness. For more info, visit www.christopherreeve.org or
www.supermantag.org on the web.
Is An Ocean
Go for it
Able to but never do
Take a chance
I am not a super fool
I live within a prison
My mind, a kiddy pool
Life is an ocean, swim
Created on: 10/11/2004
On my links page are two links to the Christopher Reeve Foundation website.
The second will take you to a page where you can purchase the Superman tags to improve the lives of those living with paralysis.
Something I found I share in
common with other poets that I have spoken with about poetry is that no matter
how many different topics we write about, we all strive to express our inner
feelings. Sometimes the meaning is hidden in metaphor, other times very
blatantly put forth, but we all dig deep and explore our emotions at levels we
might otherwise never realize exist. I ask poetically, the question that every
person who lives long enough eventually asks of oneself; "who am I?"
times however, people ask who they are, but instead answer with who they are
not. My brother Tom pointed this out to me while we were talking on the phone
when I was in college. I was going through some very difficult times back then
and he was trying to give me some advice I wasn't particularly interested in
hearing. He asked me to tell him who I thought I was, to define myself as a
quickly began reeling off a list of things I was not. I am not sure if it was
because I really didn't know who I was, or if it was because I was too humble to
boast about the parts of me I knew were good while at the same time, too proud
to admit my many faults.
way, or both, it was at that time when I really began to look inward, to write
about what I felt in my heart and to create poetry that helped me define myself
to the one person who couldn't see the real me, myself.
poem on page 99
Created On: 04/01/1983
It is not as easy as it seems to live by the rules you expect others to
follow. Hypocrisy is inevitable, so people must also be able to forgive
themselves for what they would not tolerate from others. But we cannot forget
our transgressions, rather we must use them as lessons for guidance through each
impediment that comes along in life to create conflict within us over what is
right and wrong.
judgments of others wrongdoings are often more harsh than that of our own. The
question of making such judgments about others is controversial in its own
right. But judging our own actions, if we can do so impartially and fairly,
would certainly go a long way towards ending hypocrisy.
Forgive Not Forget
Left to ponder if I am right, which way is wrong?
Begging on my knees for the guidance I can't find
Now everywhere I am feels like a place I don't belong
Twenty years of emptiness slams shut an open mind
Seduced by the denial rising in my ardent head
Embracing the gray area and what lies within
Reaching for straws to suck up all the pabulum said
As the thirst for truth smacks of a delicious sin
Wanting to believe to oppose hatred's pompous zeal
Hoping deep inside, I'm the one he will forgive
Accepting rabid views far from how I truly feel
Wishing to forget my prayers of who should no longer live
Created On: 04/03/1983
Two Faces Have I
Neither one a smile
Heart broken and lost
Rage covered with frost
Flames doused by tears
Old letters and fears
Created On: 06/06/1983
Often I think I have two distinct sides, but then I look a little deeper
and see that I have many more than two sides, sometimes conflicting, but usually
causing me to second-guess and then make choices. Poetry has forced me to look
beyond the obvious and find the parts that the outsides surround. No one is one
dimensional, but our vision often does not allow us to see more than one side at
a time. The real obstruction to vision is our eyes.
one else can look into your heart to see who you really are unless you open up
your heart for them to see. And even when you choose to do so, how can the
person looking in be sure that what you are exposing for them to see, is all
there is to see? Are you being completely honest or could there be areas still
sheltered from view. Sometimes it’s hard to see those secluded rooms even when
we look for them ourselves. Sometimes we need help to figure out who we are.
Sometimes there are extra keys on your ring and the doors they open don’t seem
to be in the hallway you are standing in.
Constant & Changing
poem on page 105
Created On: 11/27/1983
Titled after the album “Walls
And Bridges” by John Lennon, this poem came from the inspiration I felt when
listening to the songs while thinking about the album title and wondering why
John had not written a song by that name. It seemed an obvious thing to do, as
overcoming obstacles is something John had written about before. Perhaps he felt
he had said it all before and wanted to leave it up to the listeners to create
their own. So I did. Most everyone who is a fan of John Lennon will notice the
similarity between the photo on the back cover and the one of John by Bob Gruen.
I was taking pictures of the replica of Lady Liberty in Schenectady, just down
the street from my apartment, and seized the opportunity.
These walls I must climb
Or bring down to the ground
The bridges I must cross
The rivers all around
And paths I must trace
Before the secret's found
For too long I've wandered
While barely escaping fate
My steps foolishly placed
Where others would hesitate
And they would be content
To be alone in darkness
Yet those as me wish not to be
Slaves in the world of the oppressed
High walls we must climb
Or tear down to the ground
And bridges we must cross
Deep rivers we would drowned
Up roads we must crawl
Before the answer's found
Created On: 04/04/1985
I saw a news report on TV one night about a parrot that was seen in a tree outside someone's home. The weather had been turning cold as Fall was setting in and the people who saw it were concerned it would die outdoors. They managed to get a short video of it just as it was preparing to fly away. When it finally took off, I thought of how much that parrot must have longed to get out of its cage and that it didn't matter if it survived or not. A bird meant to be free was finally on the wing and got a taste of what nature had intended for it. Perhaps it was the bird's fate to show us humans the meaning of freedom. Dying for freedom is a far better way of living than killing for it.
There was a parrot loose in a tree
Escaped from his cage and now he's free
Free to soar anywhere in the blue sky
How I've always wished that I too could fly
Envy the parrot and all the birds
For their songs are sweeter than words
Better than any I could ever write
My songs also want to escape into flight
It's a shame that his feathers were furled
And the rainbow he casts on the world
Caged and covered, no wonder he flew
From the ground I dream of his point of view
Created On: 10/31/1985
I have this problem, ha, ha! Yeah, I can hear you asking, “Which one, could you be a little more specific? You seem to have quite a few.” Well, it’s something like being a hungry fish with a worm on a hook dangling above while I am swimming in a tank I don’t realize is there for fishing practice. Every time I snag that worm, something snags me. I fall for it every time and swallow the hook just far enough down that it rips out my heart when it gets yanked out by the bane of my existence, friendship.
The Man I Am No One Else Knows
poem on page 111
Created On: 03/06/1987
Writing poetry has become a way of searching myself for answers to solve
life’s painful riddles. I don’t always find the answer I was hoping for, but
whenever I look deep enough inside, I find words to express how I am feeling.
Often I can decipher the meaning, sometimes it is not so clear, but it almost
always reveals something I had not wanted to face. I can keep the secrets hidden
from everyone but me. I certainly don’t like admitting my faults to others,
but I know them all too well. No, I am not going to tell you.
Blind To The Me Others See
poem on page 113
Created On: 07/04/1987
Every now and then I need to blow off some steam. Writing a rant helps empty the trash whenever I get fed up with the mundane crap life feeds me. Working my ass off for unlivable wages under lousy conditions is something I can only take so much of before I have to quit. It’s not a good idea to quit a job without having another one to go to, but when the shit gets hip deep and the coffee break is over, standing on my head is not my idea of how to make a living. I’d tell you were I was working at the time I wrote this, but you’ll just have to take my word for it when I say, “it sucks!”
poem on page 115
Created On: 06/30/1987
Time for another rant. This one is more about money and my financial
situation at the time. Not having enough funds for the basics in life is never
fun, but working more than one job and still not being able to make ends meet is
extremely depressing, with a point that injects anger into the mix. I resisted
the idea of writing a book for many years because I felt it would be selling out
art for money. But I have come to terms with that, as a book is a very effective
method of distributing ones art to the masses. I can still maintain artistic
control over my work by releasing my poetry through a POD publisher and get a
small return on a lifetime of work. I don’t expect to get rich and if I did, I
would not trust my motives for doing this.
But Does God Trust in US?
poem on page 117
Created On: 05/30/1989
Another poem about my displeasure over working for the man and getting
treated like I owed my life to my employer. People are not born to become peons
for the wealthy, but somehow the stench of piss was always in the air no matter
where I happened to be working.
“Struggle Against Success” was originally titled “Measure Of Success”, but I thought that combating the system was a more accurate concept to describe working for those who have only their own self-interests in mind. It seemed to me a useless endeavor, trying to become a part of the corporate world I so vehemently despised. So while I was going to work to get my check, to buy the things I needed and wanted, I wasn’t working to make some suite filthy stinking rich.
Struggle Against Success
poem on page 119
Created On: 05/13/1989
The space one occupies does not determine the kind of life one will have.
A person can move from one place to another, but if you carry the same baggage
around with you, nothing really changes. That doesn’t mean that a change of
scenery isn’t a good thing, but it will not fill empty pockets or an empty
heart. Having said that, I am preparing to move to California and will likely be
there shortly after this book is released. My motives for moving are many, but I
am doing so now because I feel comfortable in that I am not moving to get away
from the problems that have haunted me for most of my life.
ones I still have will follow me there, and I am very much aware of them. The
main reason I am moving there is because I don’t like the freezing cold
winters and have seen more than enough snow for one lifetime. I have a good job
prospect waiting for me when I arrive, so I am not concerned about money at this
time in my life. But one thing that really interests me about the Berkeley area
is the artistic culture there. I look forward to melding with the poetry
community there. It also help that my brother Tom lives there and we will have
the chance to hang out together for the first time in years.
Eden Has It's Apples
poem on page 121
Created On: 07/26/1989
“See Through Inner Eyes” is my desire to break out of my old habits.
External barriers are hard to overcome, but the most difficult mountains to
climb are the ones we construct within our minds that tell us it’s too hard to
get to the other side. Look with clearer vision and perceive them for what they
are, artificial constructs you can pass through without having to climb over.
Follow your dreams, but learn to determine which ones are realistic and which
are pure fantasy.
am often reminded of a story from Star Trek: The Next Generation called
"Tapestry". It is one of my favorite episodes in all of Trekdom. Jean
Luc Picard is killed and goes to Trek Heaven where Q is God. Picard is taken
back in time, by Q, to relive events that took place at a crucial turning point
in his life. He is given a chance to change some of the choices he made during
his life, hoping that things will turn out for the better if he can be a little
less arrogant and impulsive during his younger years. But instead, he becomes a
mere shadow of his true self. He becomes a mundane underachiever who knows in
his heart he can be more, but by holding back at one crucial moment in time, he
has affected his life forever after, never to become a Starfleet Captain and
command the Enterprise.
the wrong choices turn out to be the ones that make us stronger as we absorb the
lessons of our transgressions. So are they indeed the wrong choices, even when
they seem like the right decisions at the time? Even later on in life when we
look back and believe we made the right moral and ethical choices, are those
choices the right ones if we fall short of our true potential?
story makes me reflect on my own life and I see so many of those crucial points
where I did not go for it. It's not so easy to weigh the difference between who
I can be and who I want to be. Should I strive to be all that I can be, or
should I be content with being the nice guy who makes sure that others don't get
See Through Inner Eyes
I'm not asleep, I'm wide awake
You can't pull me from this dream
No reality can overtake
The love that I'm imagining
I feel new life within my soul
And it wants a place to go
For so long it stayed inside its hole
Now I must satisfy its flow
So don't lie in the way
Or you will get swept aside
There are dreams I won't betray
I'll never commit fantasied
Don't let your dreams tell lies
Let them show you what they know
They see through inner eyes
So don't try to gain control
Don't let reality
Become a world of make believe
It seems like lies are all we hear
Be free from dreams that would deceive
Created On: 10/27/1989
While working as a Teacher's Aide in English, the class was given the task of writing a poem according to a template form they were handed. The template was fairly simple, the first two words of each line were already set and they had to fill in the lines with how they viewed themselves. I decided that I should write one as well, if for no other reason than to participate and perhaps inspire them. Though I had never written a poem in this manner, I was intrigued with the results. I don't know if it begins to answer the question I raised at the beginning of this chapter, or if even all of the poems in this chapter and throughout the entire book can really reveal, "who am I?" But for me, at least now I know more than just who I am not.
poem on page 125
Created On: 03/04/2004
Written after waking from an odd dream about being trapped under the ice in the river outside my window. I could see people walking over the ice above me, but I could not break through or get their attention. Finally, I found a hole in the ice under the nearby train bridge and escaped the freezing water. But when I got back to where I had seen the people walking on the ice, they were now under the ice and seemingly unaware of their predicament.
Under The Bridge
am so lost, so lost
don’t know who I am or where I want to be
plan, every desire, gone like the ice
the river outside my window
am alone, no one
know one but she is not alone, not my home
day, from now until then, under the bridge
years married to my widow
was not found, not there
never there to find, was never gone to drowned
searched, every last stone turned under
not in the river I was lost
one looked here, not here
know for this is here, here is where I’m alive
for me, look under where you did not before
me, follow my river, I’m here
To view excerpts* from other chapters, click each Chapter Title below
Each Chapter excerpt presented on-line contains two poems and prose from that chapter.*
Information on purchasing this book can be found below the index.
Seeds & Weeds main page: Seeds & Weeds index(click link)
Chapter 1: Pride & Prejudice* (click Chapter Title for excerpts*)
1: Pride Is One Seed
2: Seeds & Weeds - (prose)
3: 3 Seeds ** (on main index page)
4: 4th Independence
5: Matthew 5:5
6: Knot In The Loop
7: Segregation *
8: Separation *
9: Where Will You Aim Your Hate?
10: NYS OCFS Graduation Speech, Parker Training Academy, 12/10/99 * - (prose)
The Boyz At Tryon
__________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ Chapter
Chapter 2: Power & Peace* (click Chapter Title for excerpts*)
12: 1000 Keys *
13: Pay For The War *
14: Like Father, Like Son
15: Pride Blinds Biased Eyes
16: Nation's Pledge
17: Empty Arms And Burning Flags
18: Stars And Stripes
19: There's More Than One Way
20: Rush To Judgment - Judgment To Rush
21: God's Children / One Family We Are
22: Do Not Die For Me
Chapter 3: Faith: Search Within & Beyond* (click Chapter Title for excerpts*)
23: Great Unknown *
24: Pass On True Freedom
25: A Question Of Faith
26: Have You Heard?
27: Faith In What I Don't Believe
28: Unwilling To Let Go
29: This Dream I Dreamt Last Night
30: The One On My Shoulder - Never Succumb
31: No End To The Flesh
32: Invisible Light
33: Touch *
Chapter 4: Dysfunctionality & Family* (click Chapter Title for excerpts*)
34: Ro-Ro Rows Her Boat *
35: Quarter-Life Crisis
37: Within Me - Beyond Me *
38: The Task Undone
39: A Ray Of Sun From A Pot Of Gold
Chapter 6: Mother Natures Sun* (click Chapter Title for excerpts*)
56: He Who Laughs Last Will Be A Fertile, Mutant Cockroach *
57: Sleep (Hiding From The Touch Of Death)
59: Inner Eclipse
60: Full Womb Crescent Moon
61: Moon & River *
Chapter 7: State Of The Artrocity* (click Chapter Title for excerpts*)
62: Death Of A Virgin *
63: Artificial Artists (State Of The Art)
64: Artificial Artists (X-Reprise) *
66: Artists Are Lonely
67: Where Is My Muse?
68: Philosophy Therefore Poetry
69: A Test
Chapter 8: Broken Bonds* (click Chapter Title for excerpts*)
70: Drive Home *
71: Even The Best Of Us
72: This Quiet Cemetery
73: A Ghost At My Door
74: Soul Silhouette
75: Where Are You Going? I've Seen Where You've Been! *
76: A Door Too Close To Closed To Adore You
77: At The End Of Every Rainbow
78: Eye Of The Pirate, Heart Of A Thief
79: Sometimes Wishes Come True
80: What Happened To Us?
Chapter 9: Loose Ends*(click Chapter Title for excerpts*)
81: Big Hair
82: Across The Miles
83: Hidden Alterations
84: Unspoken Thirst
85: Daylight’s Darkness
86: Two Color Souls One Color
87: Someone's Drowning In Your Pool *
88: Aisumasen Renee *
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Copyright © 2006 Joseph F Johnson
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Peace and thanks,