Seeds and Weeds


Poetry and Prose by JJ Johnson


Chapter 09: Loose Ends


War and Peace - Rage and fear



Chapter 09: Loose Ends



            One day, this huge fire broke out between the railroad tracks and Broadway. It was one of those fires where people come from all over town to see because it’s so bright the sky is all lit up and everyone can see it for miles around. I was with a group of friends and we decided to check out the scene. It was so big the police were keeping everyone as far away as possible. That just made us want to get closer to see it better. We went up the embankment to the railroad tracks and walked down behind the fire to get a better view.

            It was quite an impressive blaze and after a while a large group had formed near us. The police came around to move us further away. As we were leaving, my friend Terrie responded to a comment about her height and said, “I may be short, but I got a biiiiiig hair”. Knowing she meant to say “big heart”, we all broke out laughing. It was a funny moment after big fire and lightened up the atmosphere in a way flames never could. From that moment on Terrie became known as Big Hair.

            Indeed she had a big heart! I had fallen for her the moment we met. Unfortunately, she was interested in this guy I knew, so foolishly, I introduced them. They became a couple and had three sons together. He became violent and a repeat criminal. After a couple of stints in jail, he took off to Florida to become a dead-beat-dad and left Terrie behind to raise the boys on her own. Soon after she came out of the closet and informed me that she was a lesbian, and once again my hopes were dashed. It turned out to be a good thing for our friendship, as I had to accept that we would never be together as a couple. I would still be there to help her out when I could and changed more diapers than if I had kids of my own.

            Being a parent is not easy if you are married with one child, but being a single parent with three children takes tremendous effort and courage. I can’t imagine having to raise three boys on my own, make a living without child support, and earn a college degree to acquire the kind of job required to pay for their needs. While I would have gladly joined with her as part of her family, the love we share as friends is more than I ever imagined possible. I can testify that there is nothing wrong with the heart of a woman who loves another woman, especially with a heart as big as hers.



Big Hair

Created On: 11/10/2002


            I met a member of an on-line poetry community who was going through some difficult personal issues. We chatted quite a bit and became good friends, so I wrote her a poem to give her some comfort at a time when she needed a shoulder to cry on. Besides, I’m just a softy for a damsel in distress.

            I think the value of friendship is often underestimated. Perhaps I feel that way because I often take it for granted and yet, I know its value. So if someone who does know its importance can undervalue it from time to time, I have to question how often it is taken for granted by those who do not. I am a good listener, even if I am not the best person to be giving out advice on relationships. But there are times when it is hard to listen, especially when it is something you have heard repeatedly from the same person.

            Even then, I want to help. It just feels like the right thing to do. Having had a broken heart more than once myself, I know how vulnerable a person can be in those difficult times. But it doesn’t have to be heartbreak to have need of a friend who will listen and possibly offer some advice if necessary. Numerous issues require a second opinion from someone who can relate to the situation.

            Even if the advice comes across as a bit corny, the things said between friends in those private moments aren’t subject to public scrutiny. On the other hand, a poem can be comforting to anyone who reads it if they happen to be going through a personally painful circumstance.


Across The Miles

Created On: 02/26/2002


            There was this girl I liked back in high school. She was the sister of one of my best friends. In fact, I kinda had the hots for her sister as well, but never wound up dating either one of them. They had a certain family resemblance that I found very attractive, but it seemed like they were always dating someone else.

            Coincidentally, at different times, they both mysteriously moved to California to live with their other brother for about a year, only to return with a baby that was apparently on the way when they each left. Turns out they were afraid their father would react poorly to their situation. So they waited till they had the kids and came back home hoping Grandfather-hood would soften him up. They were right.

            So while the older sister was there, we started writing letters back and forth. There was no e-mail back in those days, so stamps and paper were the best method of communication for us. When she was getting ready to come back home, she told me that when she got home there would be some changes and she worried about how I and everyone else would react to them. She wouldn’t tell me what, so I found out right along with Gramps what the big surprise was. It would have made from a great scene from a sitcom to have gotten it all on film.



Hidden Alterations

Created On: 03/28/1980




            I don’t know why, but I always seem to fall for women who like me. Now, you might not think that’s a bad thing, after all, they have to like you if they are ever going to fall in love with you. Unless you have one of those adversarial relationships that one day explodes into a moment of unbridled passion, that is.

            My dilemma, however, is that once they decide they like me, they want eternal friendship. That would be perfectly fine if not for my stupid heart always getting the wrong idea and going off the deep end. So I wind up in love and they think what a wonderful friend I am because I am so attentive.

            So when it started happening again, I decided to nip it in the bud before she was hopelessly in friendship with me. Once she said the “F” word, I knew it would be all over and I’d never get the chance to engage in the “L” word. NO! Not lust, LOVE! Is that too much to ask for?

            Well, apparently so, because she just wanted to be friends like all the rest. At least I got a poem out of it. And I was so sure that night she was gazing into my eyes was because she wanted me as much as I wanted her. Turns out she had  allergies and someone else in her eyes, even if all I could see was my own reflection.



Unspoken Thirst

Created On: 01/07/1990


            I had a dream about this woman I knew for a long time. We were both perpetually single, and although I liked he, I was weary of asking her out because I was always afraid she was going to give me the same old line I always got, “I just wanna be friends”. So I never asked her out, not even after the dream. But it was a nice dream, kind of surreal. She would walk past my apartment window while I was looking out, daydreaming.

            And when I saw her looking at me, I’d pull down the shade, like she hadn’t already seen me. But I didn’t want her to think I was looking at her, even if I was. At the end of the dream, I saw her walking back to her house, so I went out on the porch just as she was passing by, she turned, came up on the porch and kissed me. Then I woke up and thought how stupid of me to think she would actually do that. I wrote the poem and went back to sleep.




Daylight’s Darkness

Created On: 01/03/1991



            Here’s a classic example of why long distance relationships are a complete waste of time. The very attractive artist, a painter and poet, contacted me on the internet. We chatted for a long time, over a year, then decided we would give a relationship a shot. I had to wait for the school year to finish and then I would move to California, as I had been considering doing so for several years anyway.

            It seemed like the perfect plan, we had everything in common, we liked each other’s looks, at least the pictures we had seen of each other, and we both wanted the same thing from a relationship. All seemed to be going smoothly until she suddenly started being evasive and cold. I decided to break things off because she seemed to have lost interest.

            So, after a short time, we started chatting again. She convinced me that everything was all right and we should move ahead with our previous plans to meet and begin dating when I got to California. But after a few more months, she told me she had met someone locally and our relationship was over. I couldn’t imagine how she could just end it like that.

            I had the feeling she just wanted to be the one to break it off, so she convinced me to reconsider our original breakup, just so she could be the one to end it. It only reaffirmed my earlier decision, I just wish it hadn’t happened when it did. I had met a few other women during that time who I would have like to ask out, but I was not going to break my commitment to her.

            All right, I guess I am a more forgiving guy than I give myself credit for. Since writing it, the muse for this particular poem contacted me and I have since moved to California, coincidentally just a few miles from her. We talked about a lot of things over the phone, including if we were to ever meet after I moved to California. My feelings have softened since writing the poem and I think we will be friends. As I am writing this, we are planning to meet this coming week for lunch. I guess the outcome will just have to wait for my next book.



Two Color Souls One Color

Created On: 06/01/04 



            Back in the summer of 1985, I was working as the Assistant Manager of a gas station. It was a very hot summer that year and I was generally very lazy about doing my paperwork, waiting until the last minute. On one particularly hot day, I was especially lazy and didn't get around to finishing the paperwork till it was nearly time to go. That summer was also the first year that a new swimming pool had opened in the park and I was in the habit of going for a swim every day after work. I had my eye on this really cute lifeguard who had this pink swim suite she often wore. If it wasn't hot enough from the Sun, she upped the anti in that thing.

            So there I was, trying to whip through my paperwork to get to the pool to go swimming and see this amazing life guard, when all of the sudden I felt a poetic inspiration. When these feelings hit me, I always write something, I have to, even if it isn't any good, I have to get it out or I become mentally washed out and distracted by anything and everything. It took me somewhere around a half hour to 45 minutes, but I wound up writing a poem to this life guard called "Someone's Drowning In Your Pool". I got my things together and went to the park ready for a nice long swim.

            When I got to the park, I could see in the distance that no one was in the pool and lots of people were walking away from the pool area. Then I saw her, the lifeguard, walking away, coming in my direction. It was in the middle of the afternoon on a very hot sunny day, so I was surprised to say the least. When she got near me, I asked her why everyone was leaving. She told me that a young boy had drowned and the pool was closed. Talk about a moment when shivers go up and down your spine. It was a terrible thing to happen, but it blew my mind on so many levels.

            At the exact moment this boy was drowning, I was writing a poem called "Someone's Drowning In Your Pool". That is enough to make my head spin, but what has always bothered me most, even 19 years later, is that I should have been in the pool at the time he drowned. Why was I writing that poem? It's not like I wonder if I had been there, could I have saved him, but more like, I am sure I would have. It was my habit to swim from end to end, often underwater and always with my eyes open, so I wouldn't bump into anyone. There's almost no way I would not have seen him in time.

            Why did I feel the inspiration to write at that very moment? Why was I lazier that day than others? Fate is the only explanation I can imagine. If there is such a thing, and it was God's will for that boy to die that day in that pool, then I had to be delayed at work or it would not have happened. Still, I will always have a feeling that my lazy attitude contributed to the death of a young boy. Maybe that's why I work with kids now, trying to help them make better lives for themselves. Maybe that was God's plan all along. I won't know until I die, and chances are, I won't know then either because I lack the faith to believe in God and Jesus Christ.

            It leaves me wondering what life is all about, if there is a reason. Could it be mere coincidence that there is even life on Earth at all? Perhaps it is a biological stroke of luck that we are and will never learn the great unknown.

So there I stood, with a poem in my pocket, walking this lifeguard home and feeling like I had just killed that boy, as if it was all my fault for not being there.
            Realizing that there was no way I could give that poem to her after what had happened, I knew I had to re-write it and change the title, so I did. I don't have the exact date, but it is close. Neither poem is among my best, but I am including the original version here. The re-written poem, titled, “Sunshine Smile” will be in a follow-up book of poems that includes some other poems I wrote that summer for the pretty little lady in pink.


Someone's Drowning In Your Pool

Sitting there so high off the ground
You're that pretty little lady in pink
And it's nice to know that you're around
Just in case I should sink

You wisp away my clouds with a simple little wink
And you are as beautiful as the sunshine that you bring
Oh pretty lady that is really what I think
But I'm a little shy and kinda green at this sort of thing

I guess I've got no choice, it looks like sink or swim
If I just lay on the beach and say nothing to you at all
It'll die in my mind as another unfulfilled whim
So I'd better hurry up before the summer turns to fall

Well I'm sure you get a hundred guys a day
Who ask you out on dates and even more
But I don't want to compete, I wish they'd go away
Then I'd get my chance to wash up on your shore

Created On: 08/30/1985


Sunshine Smile

Sitting up there so high off the sand
You're that pretty little lady in pink
You can wisp away my clouds with a wave of your hand
And ooh that sunshine smile has got me on the brink

I'm sure you get a hundred guys a day
That ask you out on dates and even more
But I don't want to compete, I wish they'd go away
Then I might get a chance to swim upon your shore

If I lay on the beach and say nothing to you at all
It'll go down in history as no more than a whim
So I'd better hurry up before the summer turns to fall
I guess I've got no choice, it looks like sink or swim

You are as beautiful as the sunshine that you bring
Oh pretty lady that is really what I think
But I'm kinda shy and a little green at this sortta thing
So if you like me, give me a smile and a wink

Created On: 08/31/1985




Aisumasen Renee

I can't believe
I trashed our friendship with my pen
Can you believe
Renee, Aisumasen?

How could I not know
You would be hurt, so shaken
How can I show
Renee, Aisumasen?

What now can I do
To hear you say, "You're Forgiven"?
I'm such a fool
Renee, Aisumasen

What else can I do
To make us friends again?
What will we do
To make this loss a gain?

What should I have said?
You would not hear my words then
What I should have said
Renee, Aisumasen

What can I now say?
There is a word I have heard
This word I will say
Renee, Aisumasen

Created On: 12/09/1980



Aisumasen Renee: The first real poem, the first lesson in poetry


            It is fitting “Aisumasen Renee” should be the final poem of this book. The lesson I learned from its inspiration has guided every poem I have written since. It came to life in the early morning hours after John Lennon was killed. It was my Senior year in high school, and I was up all that night after hearing about John’s death. A couple of weeks before, just prior Thanksgiving break, I had done an awful thing. There was a girl named Renee, a very beautiful, sweet, innocent person that I had a huge crush on and wanted to date.

            I was in Electrical shop and Renee was in Cosmetology class across the hall. After finishing an exam early in class that day, I went to the back of the room and started writing a love letter to her. It started out very nice, but a few minutes later a couple of other kids in class finished their exams and came over to see what I was up to. As teenagers will do, they started teasing me and making suggestions as to what I should write in the letter. That’s when the trouble started.

            I should have put the letter away, but peer pressure got the best of me and I wound up writing a dirty letter instead of a love letter. Whatever possessed me to give it to her after "we" finished writing it is beyond my comprehension. I gave it to a kid that was going to have his hair cut in the Cosmo class. he put it on her desk when she wasn't looking. What happened next hurts to remember. A part of me doesn't want to write about it because it's so embarrassing.

            I could hear her crying from across the hall. She walked past the classroom door into the office with tears running down her face. I'm not sure if I was more sorry for hurting her, or more afraid of what was about to happen to me. It's selfish to think I was worried about getting in trouble, but it's the truth. Making her cry hurt me deeply, but the fear of the consequences was overwhelming.

            Then came the moment of truth, admitting I wrote the letter. I had not signed it but I knew I would not get away with it, so there was no point in denying the inevitable. I went to the office, confessed and cried my eyes out. Renee came to the door and saw me sitting there, started crying again and ran away. I felt like the lowest scum of the world and wanted to run away myself. Somehow I managed to avoid disciplinary action, but it ate away at me for three weeks like a monster in my stomach. Getting away with it was the worst thing that could've happened. All I could think about was how to apologize to Her. I couldn’t even look her in the eyes.

            Then came the night John Lennon was shot. I heard the song "Aisumasen" playing on the radio and wrote the poem shortly after the song finished. I’m sure I heard it many times before, because I had listened to the "Mind Games" album it was on more than once. It seemed like such a beautiful word and I knew immediately that it was the right one for me to let Renee know how sorry I was.

            The next day I did not go to school because I was upset and tired from having been up all night. That afternoon I went to the mall to see if I could find a card that was appropriate for the poem to be written in. I found the perfect one with Snoopy saying "I'm Sorry" which was all it had to say. As I was walking to the counter to pay for it, I saw a statue of Snoopy crying and it also said, "I'm Sorry" on the base. I picked it up and got the both of them. I wrote the poem in the card, packaged them together in a box and mailed it to her.

            Renee forgave me and we became friends for a time after that. She cut my hair on a few occasions and we often talked on the phone. I have always wondered if I had not written that letter, could we have been more? But it's a double-edged sword, because I would never have started writing poetry that meant anything real to me if I had not. Still, I would rather I had never written any of my poems if it meant I could go back in time and stop myself from writing that one letter. I understand she is now married and has a happy family somewhere in the mid-west.

            Soon after she forgave me I came to realize how important that poem had been in the repenting process. I don’t know for sure how much of an impact it had on Renee’s forgiveness of me, but it most definitely affected me very deeply. Knowing that I could express my feelings to someone through a poem, and having my apology accepted, gave me a sincere respect for poetry. It wasn’t just an exercise in class anymore; it was a learning experience in life.

            It was then that I decided I would continue to write poetry and only write it when my feelings inspired me to write. Poetry is not a game where practice makes perfect. I will not force poems out just to write something, even though all the books about how to write poetry tell you to write every day, as often as possible. To me, it seems false, like writing to please an audience rather than express what is in my heart. For me, that expression is the only reason to write poetry.





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 *

11: The Boyz At Tryon




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

36: The Family Way

37: Within Me - Beyond Me *

38: The Task Undone

39: A Ray Of Sun From A Pot Of Gold




Chapter 5: Introspection* (click Chapter Title for excerpts*)


40: Life Is An Ocean *

41: Self Portrait

42: Forgive Not Forget

43: Two Faced

44: Constant & Changing

45: Walls And Bridges

46: Desire To Fly

47: The Man I Am No One Else Knows

48: Blind To The Me Others See

49: Stock Room Blues

50: But Does God Trust in US?

51: Struggle Against Success

52: Every Eden Has It's Apples

53: See Through Inner Eyes

54: I Am

55: Under The Bridge *




Chapters 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 *




Chapters 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




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?





    Seeds And Weeds is a philosophically expressive compilation of poetry and prose, offering progressive views on politics, peace, nature, fate, faith, family, friendship, introspection, and poetry itself. Seeds and Weeds is more than simply a collection of verse with splashes of imagery. This book challenges the mind and heart to find a better way through observations and feelings on the rise and fall of character, creatively expressed in rhyme and reason.

It's time to weed the garden!




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