Seeds and Weeds

 

Poetry and Prose by JJ Johnson

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Chapter 5: Introspection

 

War and Peace - Rage and fear

 

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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.

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                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."

            A 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.

            It is my hope that we will soon have people in office who will act in the best interests of not only those will spinal injuries, but so many other medical conditions that stem-cell research could be helping, if not curing all together. You could look at every single invention and innovation that human kind has accomplished and say that it is unnatural or harms something else. Yet, when you consider the good that will come from saving lives and fixing what was once broken beyond repair, this new medical frontier needs our support and funding. Stem-cell research must be allowed to go forward.

 

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Life Is An Ocean

C’mon
C’mon
Go for it
Able to but never do

I can
I can
Take a chance
I am not a super fool

Unlike
Unlike
My hero
I live within a prison

My mind
My mind
So shallow
My mind, a kiddy pool

This life
What life?
Avoid sharks
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. 

Go Forward....

 

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            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?"

            Often 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 person.

            I 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.

Either 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.

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Self Portrait

poem on page 99


Created On: 04/01/1983

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            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.

            Our 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.

            We often refuse to take personal responsibility for the actions we take even when we are willing to admit that we did it and what we did was indeed immoral. In looking at my own life, I have been guilty of this myself many times. Sometimes it’s not easy to find forgiveness within me for my own actions. Even those that I do are beyond me to admit to others.

 

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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

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Two Faced

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


War and Peace - Rage and fear

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            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.

            No 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.

            I wonder sometimes, where did I make a wrong turn and lose who I used to be? Is the real me behind some concealed door that one of those extra keys will open? I have searched myself over and over, but still I am not sure I know who I am. I still feel that I am missing something inside and until I find it, I won’t feel complete. As much as I have learned about myself through life’s experiences, poetry and writing this book, I am still asking the question, who am I?


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Constant & Changing

poem on page 105

Created On: 11/27/1983

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            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.

            One of the reasons I admire John Lennon is because he had so many obstacles in his life and was able to overcome them. Before he was famous, he lost his mother at a crucial time in his life. His father took off when he was very young. Music was an escape for a driven soul. There were many contributing factor, but it would have been much easier for him to give up when times were tough. Instead, he built bridges to cross the turbulent waters before him. I only wish I was so driven. Even without his talent, his ambition is the kind that can take a person anywhere they want to go.

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Walls And Bridges

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

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    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.

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Desire To Fly

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

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                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.

 

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The Man I Am No One Else Knows

poem on page 111

Created On: 03/06/1987

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                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.

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Blind To The Me Others See

poem on page 113

Created On: 07/04/1987

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                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!”


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Stock Room Blues

poem on page 115

Created On: 06/30/1987

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            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.

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But Does God Trust in US?

poem on page 117

Created On: 05/30/1989

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                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.

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Struggle Against Success

poem on page 119

Created On: 05/13/1989

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                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.

                The 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.

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Every Eden Has It's Apples

poem on page 121

Created On: 07/26/1989

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            “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.

            I 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.

            Sometimes 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?

            This 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 left behind.

            Isn't the Captain of the ship supposed to be the last one off, who would die before he allowed anyone else to go down with the ship? But like the lowly version of himself that Picard became by not taking chances that made him the man he had once become, am I a Captain on the inside without a ship to set out on? Will I never be who I know I can be, or even who I want to be? Will I be just the mundane underachiever I have so effectively molded myself into?

 

 

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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

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    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.

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I Am

poem on page 125


Created On: 03/04/2004

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                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.

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Under The Bridge

 

I am so lost, so lost

I don’t know who I am or where I want to be

Every plan, every desire, gone like the ice

In the river outside my window

 

I am alone, no one

I know one but she is not alone, not my home

Every day, from now until then, under the bridge

Seven years married to my widow

 

I was not found, not there

Was never there to find, was never gone to drowned

Everywhere searched, every last stone turned under

But not in the river I was lost

 

No one looked here, not here

I know for this is here, here is where I’m alive

Look for me, look under where you did not before

Find me, follow my river, I’m here

 

Created: 3/30/2005

 

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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.

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Seeds & Weeds main page: Seeds & Weeds index (click link)

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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)

11: The Boyz At Tryon

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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

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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 *

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Chapter 4: Dysfunctionality & Family* (click Chapter Title for excerpts*)

 

34: Ro-Ro Rows Her Boat *

35: Quarter-Life Crisis

36: The Family Way

37: Within Me - Beyond Me *

38: The Task Undone

39: A Ray Of Sun From A Pot Of Gold

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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)

58: Leaves

59: Inner Eclipse

60: Full Womb Crescent Moon

61: Moon & River *

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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) *

65: Tragedy

66: Artists Are Lonely

67: Where Is My Muse?

68: Philosophy Therefore Poetry

69: A Test

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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?

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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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Purchasing Information

Publishing of Seeds And Weeds is through BookSurge, an Amazon.com company.

 

click the banner above to purchase from Amazon.com

ISBN # 1-4196-3309-0

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War and Peace - rage and fear

 

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Links Page

After you're done with the excerpts, 

check the links Beyond Seeds and Weeds

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Copyright © 2006 Joseph F Johnson

 All rights reserved. 

No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any manner or form without written permission from the author.

 Printed in the United States of America.

Portions of this book © 2004

US Copyright Office Registration

TXu1-162-978

ISBN 1-4196-3309-0

Publisher:

BOOKSURGE an Amazon.com Company

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Each of the following A-stores contains materials relating to topics covered in Seeds And Weeds.

There are A-stores at the end of each page on this site, pertaining to the topics covered within that chapter.

There is no obligation or request to purchase any of these books, dvd's or cd's.

I offer them as a means to learn more about the things that are important to me and why I wrote this book.

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Peace

 

Nice guys don’t finish last, we just want to be sure no one gets left behind.”

Peace and thanks,

JJ Johnson

 e-mail  

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