The Lost American: From Exile to Freedom
Book Review: By Carol A. Marcus
The Lost American: From Exile to Freedom, by raising star, Michael Lee Johnson, poet and freelance writer, is about one man's journey into exile to Canada over the Vietnam War many years ago, his struggle, his survival, his road to recovery and strength manifesting itself through his prose, poems, and personal convictions. Mr. Michael Lee Johnson now lives in Illinois, United States. We feel sure you will delight in his work. Michael is a poet, painting his words with a tender and gentle touch, allowing them to create a broad landscape with just a few deceptively simple strokes. Take a short flight into freedom and read the adventures of an unusual life, touching the moments many with an average eye simply miss. Whether it be the agony of self-imposed exile for a cause; or a tender moment with lights flickering in the dark, the emotions come through. Here are two sample poems:
Skinny Indiana Boy
With a heart once as big as Texas
or Alberta where he came from,
the draft resister tries to erase
the memory of his sordid past;
coming out of the Rockies,
down over the slate, out of self-imposed exile,
he leaves the northland shaking
his bandaged fists at the prairie sky.
He was robbed of his own conviction
by a war that ended, others forgot,
there was nothing left to die for, to wait for,
no more protest signs to carry in the dark -
only the chill of the northern winter left
to remind him of what he once felt,
once talked about.
The night looked long in his deep green eyes
robbing his faint life away.
The scream of loneliness has turned
his innards inside out to pity.
Non-religious accept for those
weakened moments, empty nights,
vacant lots, he leaves behind lightless
ten years of those silent wars
He no longer speaks with bullets bleeding
from his mouth, he no longer searches
the quiet whispers that echo in the pines.
Now he is at home near the land of Indiana lakes
where in his childhood he created the vision for his
now dead dream, content to say nothing radical anymore-
just glad to be alive.
Flight of the Eagle
From the dawn, dusty skies
comes the time when
the eagle flies-
without aid of wind,
like a kite detached without string,
the eagle in flight leaves no traces,
no trails, no roadways-
never a feather drops
out of the sky.
In the first poem, Skinny Indiana Boy one can feel the pent up emotions, the longing for home, for roots, the desire to be free on oneís own terms again. One can feel the conflict between being alone, the search for God, the anger, the desire to find peace within a self.
In the second poem, Flight of the Eagle one senses imagination, freedom, the desire to be free on the wind, tortured no more, left alone to survive. Here a degree of mysticism prevails, a depth of intestacy, a genius wording of simplicity, a cover from the dark. This little piece is a true reflection of the inward tenacity of the authors will, a testimony one can trust.
On the weak side, a few early love poems reflecting the time of the authorís youth invade the book; but, ironically, through their simplicity, and acceptance of what they are, actually functions in a strange kind of way.
The interview at the end of the book helps to personalize the author with the events of his life, Vietnam, the struggle and glory inbetween. A gap is missing with the flow of events from the beginning to the end only documented by the date the poems were written.
Overall, for a first book of poetry, this is a rising star in the world of Illinois poetry. Michael Lee Johnson is force to be reckoned with, a spirit that yells to be heard. Search the internet, you will find his voice everywhere.
Book Review by: Carol A. Marcus, Independent Writer and Book Reviewer, Editor
Mr. Michael Lee Johnson lives in Chicago, Illinois area, after spending 10 years in Edmonton, Alberta Canada during the Viet Nam era. He is a freelance writer and poet. He is heavy influenced by Carl Sandburg, Robert Frost, William Carlos Williams, Irving Layton, and Leonard Cohen. To date he has over 365 poems published in over 135 journals and online publications. He is a member of Poets & Writers, Inc and Directory of American Poets and Fictions Writers: http://www.pw.org/directory/. He is a member of The Illinois Authors Directory. Illinois Center for the Book: http://www.illinoiscenterforthebook.org/directory.html. He has been published in the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Turkey, Scotland, Australia, Nigeria, India, and the United Kingdom. His website can be found at: http://poetryman.mysite.com/.
Now Listed at iUniverse Publishers:
http://www.iuniverse.com/bookstore/book_detail.asp?isbn=0-595-46091-7 The ISBN # is: 0-595-46091-7.
EBook also available at iUniverse at: http://www.iuniverse.com/bookstore/book_detail.asp?isbn=0-595-90391-6 The ISBN # IS: 0-595-90391-6
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