Monthly Archives: December 2014

The Shepherd They Left Behind

The Shepherd They Left Behind, 12/24/2014, Michael N. Johns

They woke me up in the middle of the night,
A boy of maybe 9 years,
They said they’d seen a miraculous sight,
“It’s not every day an angel appears,”
And angels’ songs then filled their ears.

“Take care of the sheep; we’re off to Bethlehem,
To see what we can find,
The angels said ‘a baby, a king, a treasured gem,’
Get out to the hillside where you’re assigned,”
I’m the shepherd they left behind.

I was relieved when they returned, finally
They came back all excited,
They said it was all true, reciting angels’ words to me,
But I went back to bed.
“You sound crazy,” was all I said.

I grew up and watched, waiting expectantly,
For the new king to take his throne,
But he was a carpenter who had no time for me,
A shepherd on a rocky hill, alone,
Making friends with the sheep and stones

It got harder to believe each time they tried
To convince me, their stories grew stale.
The elder shepherds grew old and died,
Never tiring of telling their tale.
The carpenter sawed, hammered, and nailed.

Then the carpenter started teaching, one day,
The rumor was, he could blow your mind,
I might have liked to hear what he had to say,
But the hillside was where I was assigned,
I’m the shepherd, still feeling left behind.

I sit, forgotten on my lonely hill,
Never feeling I’ll find my real self
A wasted life, empty, like a box to fill,
Abandoned, alone, dusty on a shelf,
With dreams into which I’ll never delve.

What can a shepherd do, beside
Watching sheep on a stupid hillside?
None other with which to confide,
Than sheep, and they’d run and hide.
Dreams?  What of dreams, when they’ve died?

I heard one day he said he was the “good shepherd,”
And my ears perked up a little bit
Could I have really heard what I thought I heard?
And people were sheep, like Isaiah’d writ’,
Could I ever do more than I did?

All I know is how to be a shepherd though:
Watch the sheep, feed the sheep, shear,
Rescue the wanderers, watch the herd grow,
Guard the sheep, feed the sheep, shear.
Those angels would have been something to hear.

What was the rest of the story?  I’d like details!
Could he come and teach me sometime?
I long for purpose beyond grassy bales!
I’m waiting, watching, praying to find,
The reason for the shepherd they left behind.

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Art and Poetry

Art and Poetry, 12/18/2014, Michael N. Johns

I love the artist’s heart,
It’s fragile, but it’s deep
I’d call poetry “art,”
If blood’s both paint and ink
Art is image, and refrain.

It is, I would assert,
Both artists feel the pains
The poet writes the words
Our audience ascertains
Both are blood: ink and paint.

To view, to hear, to feel,
Communication, learned,
We paint, speak truth, appeal
Your souls, like ours, to burn
Fired by image and refrain.

Our blood, our hearts, the same.

Waiting For Christmas

Waiting For Christmas, 12/17/2014, Michael N. Johns

This year I’m waiting for Christmas again,
Hoping to find presents for me,
It’s not so different from way-back-when
Except bigger responsibilities.

Way-back-when, I was much younger,
Vacations, mom’s cookies, and dreams-
My dreams seemed much simpler,
Though life wasn’t “peaches and cream.”

Mom’s cookies soothed the aches
Of skinned elbows and knees
She taught me how to cook and bake
But not to escape pains no one sees

Elbows and knees heal and blur,
But some wounds won’t go away
Past and present blend, memories stir,
I don’t long for yesterday.

Yesterday swiftly became today,
Todays will swiftly become tomorrows,
I do miss the freedom, friends and play.
I wish I could miss the sorrows.

Tomorrows may bring everything we hope,
With the anticipation of Christmas,
And wash away our needs, like soap.
O come, Emmanuel, with swiftness!

O come, O come, with hugs that heal
Our soul’s knees, this Christmas, I pray
Bring tender words, and comforting,
And miracles, like cookies on trays.

Stonehearted, Michael N. Johns, 12/3/2014

Sometimes when I write or speak, or dream,
It’s like someone slashed open a vein,
And my feelings, like life-blood, would
Splash and spray and freely flow.

But sometimes there isn’t even a drip, it seems.
I used to worry, people sometimes would say
I’m heartless and my scowl is at them,
Or think it. But it’s not.  They don’t know.

Some people think they’re saying they like me
They think they’re encouraging; I’ll be O.K.
But by comment or thought, I’m condemned
Despite their intent of a blessing to bestow.

Sometimes I’d like to write, speak, or dream
But my heart is too empty, or full of pain,
And I’ve run out of feelings, bad and good,
And escape routes. There’s no where to go.

I need a season of pie with whipped cream,
I’m dry, stonehearted, I need the sun and rain,
Like rosin to the viola bow, oil to dry wood,
Dead seed, to bud, to blossom, blossom to grow.