• Ancient Paths

I'm a Riverboat Boy


Poem on Halsted Street by Michael Lee Johnson

As sure as church bells Sunday morning, ringing on Halsted near State Street, Chicago, these memories will be soon forgotten. I stumble in my life with these words like broken sentences. I hear and denounce myself in the distance, mumbling chatter off my lips. Fragments and chips. Swearing at the parts of me I can’t see; walking away rapidly from the spiritual thoughts of you. I’m disjointed, separated from my Christian beliefs. I feel like I’m at the bottom of sin hill playing with my fiddle, flat fisted, and busted. So, you sing in the gospel choir; sang in Holland, sang in Belgium, from top to bottom, the maps, continents, atlas are all yours. I detach myself from these love affairs drive straight, swiftly, to Hollywood Casino Aurora. Fragments and chips. I guess we gamble in different casinos, in different corners of God’s world, you with church bingo, and I’m a riverboat boy. No matter how spiritual I’m once a week on Sundays, I can’t take you where my poems don’t follow me. Church poems don’t cry.