The McKinley Review Magazine

Rose Petals in a Dark Room

By: Michael Lee Johnson | Posted on: Summer 2019


I walk through this poem one step at a time.

I walk in a mastery of this night and light

my money changers walk behind me

they’re fools like clowns in a shadow of sin,

they’re busy as bees as drunken lovers,

Sodom and Gomorrah before this salt pillar falls.

In a shadow of red rose pedals

drunken lovers walk changing Greek and Roman

currency to Jewish money or Tyrian shekels-

they’re fools, all fools, at what they do.

Everyone’s life is a conflict.

They’re my lovers and my sinners

I can’t sleep at night without them

by my bed grass near that sea of Galilee.

Fish in my cloth nets beget my friends, my converts.

I pray in this garden alone sweat

while my disciples whitewash their dreams.

The rose has a tender thorn compared to my arrest,

and soon crucifixion.

It’s here this morning and this night come together,

where this sea and this land depart,

where these villages stone and mortar crumble.

I’m but a poet of this ministry,

rose petals in a dark room fall.

Everyone’s life is a conflict.

But mine is mastery of light and neon night

and I walk behind these footsteps of no one.


Michael Lee Johnson lived 10 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, Illinois.  Mr. Johnson published in more than 1062 new publications, his poems have appeared in 38 countries, he edits, publishes 10 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, 1 Best of the Net 2018.  184 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,