Connie Johnson

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Freedom Man Blues

Stack of books on your shelves
Are my words hidden in there? Somewhere my pain
Is impossibly etched. It’s an itch to be scratched a lie to be matched
It feels like it should be poured into a shot glass. 

It’s fancy
It cost a lot

These intimacies, you were the tender initiator of all that
(But you didn’t snatch this innocence you brazen galoot
& I don’t begrudge what you found elsewhere
Just be honest with the funky gist of it.

You’ve already joined me to you with 1,616 degrees of hoo doo
That’s that Louisiana talking and I’m talking calm, but I’m not at all
Just wore down by too many gutbucket tears.

(you effed your soul finery/too iffy for them to fully believe
but beyond the taunts and the taint nobody’s business
you’ll get no litany of complaints over here

It feels like it’s 1976 again
And I’m still copastetically yours.
Wisdom comes slow but I’ve memorized all the words
To your apropos freedom man blues.

Man, don’t explain nothing.
Nothing. nothing: you just affected me so.



Nothing to do
but stew in it.  brooding.

some kind of bo diddley
sumptuousness would work right about now
(you know what it took to impress me.

nattily.  that’s what i meant to tell you.

& only some triple whammy
witch doctor.  some sultan of mojo deftness
could blur the lines like you do.

your love is archival.  sepia, a mood.
just open up your mouth & holla
if you need me.

enthrallment: who do
you love?


What I Could Say to You

How’s your Head?  Heart?  Tell me a story

You taught me that a poet might not have
two nickels to rub together
but he can still highjack
your mind for life.

That’s talent.

And it’s too late baby now it’s too late
But there still might be time for these bones to
build your shelter.

None worse than me.
Nor better. 

Secrets revealed
answers to questions unasked.
Just a world built on ink-stained
tears and swagger, all the way from DeRidder.
That’s a long way to travel for some truth.

And I’m over here looking like the world’s
last alcoholic on my passport picture.  
Tongue-tied no longer,
though too tipsy to travel.
Too drunk to pack enough sox and underwear.
Maybe I’ll just go commando.
It’s time I was in command of
something at last.

Same old inky tears and swagger.
Blues to the bone and mine could rival yours
any day.   Don’t forget: 
I was a poet, too

Come and I’ll tell you all I know.


Connie Johnson is a Los Angeles, CA-based writer. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Iconoclast, Haight-Ashbury Literary Journal, Jerry Jazz Musician, Mudfish, Voicemail Poems and Exit 13.