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A mother’s prayer, a baby’s cry

tenderest care, a lullaby;

Eating, sleeping night and day,

Brand new tooth and childhood play.

 

A new red sled, a bat, a ball;

Boyish laughter down the hall.

First lessons learned of life’s stern rule,

nine to three in the village school.

 

Work and study, work some more,

graduation,  high school’s o’er.

A little girl, a little ring

A wedding march sometime in spring.

 

Business built, boys of your own;

Father and mother, God’s called home.

Work and worry, going through

Same old paths the old folks knew.

 

A book, a chair, a fireplace wide

A time to dream of friends who’ve died.

A quiet room, a shaded lamp,

Short gasping breaths, a forehead damp,

 

Heart sobs and tears, then quiet rest,

Thin hands folded ‘gainst the breast.

The break of dawn, the setting sun,

The law of life, and life is done.

O’er every modern luxury there lies,

The shades of ancient hardship.

He who flies across the continent on wings of gauze

Threads a thin path of meteors because,

his fathers, wingless, earth bound as they groped,

through marsh and jungle, upward gazed in hope.

 

The cars that roll so ceaselessly today

on velvet wheels along the concrete way

would find no highways spanning hill and dale

had not the drudging ox cart paved the way

 

Though poverty awaited where the vast, stark prairie

and horizon met at  last.

Yet was their goal, how priceless still it seems;

Unhampered  freedom and untrammeled dreams.

 

Hovels are mansions, homesteads vast estates

and settlements are cities now.

The fates caught up their severed tangled threads and spun,

with magic art, the pattern they begun.

 Caught up chirmeric hopes, abandoned schemes,

and  made a world more wondrous than their dreams.

 

The pioneers who broke this virgin soil

‘ner garnered half the harvest of their toil

to them the weary days behind the plow.

To them, the aching limb, the sweating brow,

To them, the weary seed time, others reap,

today where once they sewed, now all is sleep.

 

Oh, aviator, conquering realms of blue

a haunting spectra flies along with you

and vague seen covered wagons draw strange loads

of ghostly pilgrims down the long, paved road.

 

 

 There’s an old home town I long for

When I’m tired of traveling  round.

Just a quiet country village

Still to me it’s sacred ground.

 

On the old Chicago turnpike

In the town of Somerset

Stands a village called The Center

That I never can forget.

 

You may call me sentimental,

Plain old foggy like, and slow,

But I love that quiet hometown

I was raised in long ago.

 

Though for years I’ve seen the cities,

I have never found the joy

That I found there in the handshakes

Of the home folks when a boy.

 

Now the old mill wheel is silent

And the mother’s voice is still.

I am lonely for the old town,

and the mill pond and the mill.

 

 

 

 

 Selected Poems by  J. Johnson

 

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