Featured Poetry and Readings by M. L. Johnson


Michael Lee Johnson lived ten years in Canada during the Vietnam era and is a dual citizen of the United States and Canada. Today he is a poet, freelance writer, amateur photographer, and small business owner in Itasca, DuPage County, Illinois. Mr. Johnson published in more than 2013 new publications, and his poems have appeared in 40 countries, he edits, publishes ten poetry sites.

Michael Lee Johnson has been nominated for 2 Pushcart Prize awards poetry 2015/1 Best of the Net 2016/2 Best of the Net 2017, 2 Best of the Net 2018. Two hundred twenty-one poetry videos are now on YouTube. Editor-in-chief poetry anthology, Moonlight Dreamers of Yellow Haze; editor-in-chief poetry anthology, Dandelion in a Vase of Roses available here. Editor-in-chief Warriors with Wings: The Best in Contemporary Poetry. LinksAuthor ProfileLulu – Member Illinois State Poetry Society Please consider for Best of the Net or Pushcart nomination!

Works by Michael Lee Johnson have been featured previously. Artwork: Rings of Eternity / Velibor Baco / In Parentheses / Volume 6 Issue 2 / Fall 2020


Virus in the Air, Spasms in my Back

“Virus in the Air, Spasms in my Back” read and written by Michael Lee Johnson / In Parentheses

There’s a virus in the air, but I can’t see it.
People are dying around me, but I can’t save them.
There are spikes pierced in my back,
spasms, but I can’t touch them.
Heartbeats, hell pulsating, my back muscles,
I covet in my prayers.
I turn right to the left, in my bed, then hang still.
Nails impaled, I bleed hourly,
Jesus on that cross.
Now 73 years of age, my half-sister 92,
told me, “getting old isn’t for sissies.”
I didn’t believe her—
until the first mimic words
out of “Kipper” my new parakeet’s mouth,
sitting in his cage alone were
“Daddy, it’s not easy being green.”

Leaves in December

“Leaves in December” read and written by Michael Lee Johnson / In Parentheses

Leaves, a few stragglers in
December, just before Christmas,
some nailed down crabby
to ground frost,
some crackled by the bite
of nasty wind tones.

Some saved from the matchstick
that failed to light.
Some saved from the rake
by a forgetful gardener.

For these few freedom dancers
left to struggle with the bitterness:
wind dancers
wind dancers
move you are frigid
bodies shaking like icicles
hovering but a jiffy in the sky,
kind of sympathetic to the seasons,
reluctant to permanently go, rustic,
not much time more to play.

Group Therapy

“Group Therapy” read and written by Michael Lee Johnson / In Parentheses

Wind chimes.
It’s going to rain tonight, thunder.
I’m going to lead the group tonight talking
about Rational Emotive Therapy,
belief challenges thought change,
Dr. Albert Ellis.
I’m a hero in my self-worship,
self-infused patient of my pain,
thoughtful, probabilistic atheism
with a slant toward Jesus in private.
Rules roll gently creeping
through my body with arthritis
a hint of mental pain.
Sitting in my 2001 Chevy S-10 truck,
writing this poem, late as usual.
It’s going to rain, thunder
heavy tonight.

Fiction Girl

“Fiction Girl” read and written by Michael Lee Johnson / In Parentheses

Drawings, then poems flip over to fiction;
the flash girl rides this ghost of the invention.
Insecure in youth, switch girl from drawing
to poetry, extension flight, outer fiction space,
yours is a manner of words at work.
Mercury is a god of movement.
A new skill set, brain twister, releases 100 free plays.
Life is a version of old times, fresh starts, torn yellow pages.
I focused on you last night; I watched your head spin
in sleep, a new playhouse of tree dreams, high shifting.
Changes are leaves; I lift your spirits to the gods of fire,
offer you thunderbolts practice your shooting in heaven
or hell, or toss back to earth.
Change is a choice where your energy flows.
No computer gods will help this poetic journey.
May you cry out loud on route to fairytale creations.
You are the chemist, the mixer girl shifting gears.
Creativity is how the gallery of galaxies cement.
Flash fiction lines cross stars.

Cold Gray

“Cold Gray” read and written by Michael Lee Johnson / In Parentheses

Below the clouds
forming in my eyes,
your soft eyes,
delicate as warm silk words,
used to support the love I held for you.

Cold, now gray, the sea tide
inside turns to poignant foam
upside down separates-
only ghosts now live between us.

Yet, dreamlike, fortune-teller,
bearing no relation to reality-
my heart is beyond the sea now.
A relaxing breeze sweeps
across the flat surface of me.
I write this poem to you,
neglectfully sacrificing our love.
I leave big impressions
with a terrible hush inside.
Gray bones now bleach with memories,
I’m a solitary figure standing
here, alone, along the shoreline.


From the Editor:

We hope that readers receive In Parentheses as a medium through which the evolution of human thought can be appreciated, nurtured and precipitated. It will present a dynamo of artistic expression, journalism, informal analysis of our daily world, entertainment of ideas considered lofty and criticism of today’s popular culture. The featured content does not follow any specific ideology except for that of intellectual expansion of the masses.

Founded in late 2011, In Parentheses prides itself upon analysis of the current condition of intelligence in the minds of these young people, and building a hypothesis for one looming question: what comes after Post-Modernism?

The idea for this magazine stems from a simple conversation regarding the aforementioned question, which drew out the need to identify our generation’s place in literary history.

To view the types of work we typically publish, preview or purchase our past issues.

Please join our community on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram at @inparenth.


In Parentheses Magazine (Volume 7, Issue 2) Fall 2021

By In Parentheses in IP Volume 7

112 pages, published 10/14/2021

The Fall 2021 issue of In Parentheses Literary Magazine. Published by In Parentheses (Volume 7, Issue 2)

In Parentheses Magazine (Fall 2020)

By In Parentheses in Volume 6

80 pages, published 10/15/2020

The FALL 2020 issue of In Parentheses Literary Magazine. Published by In Parentheses (Volume 6, Issue 2)

Author: Mr. Phillipe

Phillipe Martin Chatelain / @uptownvoice / Phillipe is the Managing Editor of In Parentheses. He is a poet from New York City with a Masters Degree in Poetry from The New School. He writes as someone in the tradition of the urban troubadour or the flaneur–wandering, taking notes. He believes that poetry of our generation has taken on a much more digital definition. Furthermore, it is important for New Modernist writers like those exhibited in In Parentheses Literary Magazine to assume the forms of media available in order to carry on the history of Sublime Art. His series taking shots alone was self-published in 2012-2015. The self-published collection FACETS (2019) is now available.

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