Mark B. Johnson, Sr.
Copyright 1995, Mark B. Johnson, Sr.

Simple Question

Such a simple question this bright afternoon."Why no poetry about the Cancer?"
And at first I have no answer.But soon I'm surveying that dark door
and wondering"Am I safe from the ravages of the beast
that raged on the other side
when once the door is opened?"Then after a while I listen for snarls,
wait for the cold scrape of claws,
and slowly, carefully reach for the door.

Copyright 1994 by Mark B. Johnson, Sr. mj0760%[email protected]

When It Began

When it began I didn't fear.
That flash of pain that frightened you
And the lump you found -
I was so sure, and supportive ...
and wrong.I walked with you so solid,
Confident that everything would be Okay.
It was nothing
And we'd share a smile at our fears.But soon the steps came quicker--
This next - then that - and then
The moment when it all hit home:
Sometimes the Bogeyman is real.Dear God - what happens now?

Copyright 1994 by Mark B. Johnson, Sr. mj0760%[email protected]


I don't know when it came to me,
What thought I chanced to think.
"My strength will hold you constantly,
My loving eyes won't blink."

Copyright 1994 by Mark B. Johnson, Sr. mj0760%[email protected]

Where Do I Find

Where do I find words
To carry rage against fate
wronging her that I love?
To carry fear of losing treasures
I only just found?
To cry the sorrow of beauty
marred and pain endured?Where do I find words
To sing of the courage she
showed day by day?
To thank those whose faith wrapped
us warm all around?
To tell of the dreams that we feared
were all done?Where do I find words
To warm like the touch of
the healer's hands?
To smile like the day
that the poison could end?
To comfort like competent
care from our friends?Where do I find words
To bubble our joy as
each checkup is clear?
To brighten the path where
the shadows still fall?
To fly with the hope
of a lifetime ahead?Where do I find words?

Copyright 1994 by Mark B. Johnson, Sr. mj0760%[email protected]

How Can It Be?

How can it be
That I still stare with
Rapt infatuation
Over a gulf of so many years?Still your face haunts me -
Fills me with need and wonder -
Stirs in me the hope of a single dance,
a single glance,
a single kiss ---
Even after thousands of nights
holding your sleeping body to mine.How can it be?After children and illness
and age have weighed on us with
the endless burdens of life,Still the scent of you -
the sight of you -
the touch of youSets the heart of this aging child
at play in the gardens of love,And brings a tear unbidden
to my adoring eye.

Copyright 1994 by Mark B. Johnson, Sr. mj0760%[email protected]


Are these the right words?
To tell of a heart afire...
To thank you for teaching love
Where so much emptiness
had been?When the years of my life
Have poured forth short or long,
Those filled with you will be
Color, Magic, Hope and Dreams
Far beyond what I have ever known.Poetry, born so often of Truth
And Pain, and emotions that
Rage at the human drama,
Will tumble from this heart that
Because of you knows Love.

Copyright 1994 by Mark B. Johnson, Sr. mj0760%[email protected]

For Viola

When songs are sung and prayers are said,
Of finding Hope's reward,Sing those who've won, and those who fight,
And those who'll fight no more:The brilliant ones, the gentle ones,
The young ones and the old,The beautiful, the homely,
The silver and the gold.Some find Victory waiting here,
Their songs are long and sweet.While others taste a bitter drink,
Their song a sad retreat.Sing pridefully their courage,
The foe they fought so well.Pray lovingly their hopes and dreams...
The tolling of the bell.Now rest - you wounded, tired heart.
So strong until the end.Your spirit sings your victory
To every loving friend.When last the battle fades away,
When last the foe is done,The Victors will be those who fought:
Each Mother, every son.

Copyright 1994 by Mark B. Johnson, Sr. mj0760%[email protected]

Oh God!

Oh God, Don't make me look in there!

For three years now, that room of hauntings
and fear has been kept safely aside. Nobody
knows it's there...not even you.

So when you hint without hinting at your reasons
for asking The Question, I think of that hidden room,
Away, away,
and cry silently, Oh God!

I wrote as you asked...of what we did and where we went.
Of the horrors and joys discovered there. Of the death
and birth of hopes. Of times and times ago that
ne'er will be again.

Of strength and weakness and danger.
Of Victories piled up through the pre-season and
Of earning our very own berth in the Big Game.

Of all the beautiful things you can discover when you
Sweep away the ashes of beautiful things burnt.

But Oh God, Don't make me look in there!

Copyright 1994 by Mark B. Johnson, Sr. mj0760%[email protected]


(On a Chemo Afternoon)

Small black crystal bud-vaseShe doesn't remember
Me buying it.She doesn't remember
Receiving it.Or carrying it
Home.The cauldron-mixed draught
of poisons and antidotesShe had for lunch
Brought her sleepAnd forgetfulness.How odd--this
Simple black tear-dropWith the long
and pretty neckKills so fast a
Fresh-cut flower.

Copyright 1994 by Mark B. Johnson, Sr. mj0760%[email protected]

Death Waves In Passing

I never feared I'd lose you.For God sees every sparrow that falls
(But still...every sparrow falls)And we trusted all our doctors
(But no doctor is omniscient)Our love was an armor
(That kept out the fear).And I'll say the chill never made me cold.
(But why did we huddle shivering,
if not from fear or
because of the cold?)Though the Dark Visitor passed us by
He didn't fear our courage,
Or respect our love or
The shelter of our faith.It was a stern reminder that
Though this may not be the time
Or the place or the reason,He knows our address.And someday,
someday,He'll return.


The Essentials For A Cancer Vacation
by Marlys Johnson
June 21, 2016
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