A. J. Johnson.

Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, United States


The desire to be a writer begins at about five years of age. I grew up in northern Alabama, my father was a sharecropper who 
farmed for a local businessperson and my mother worked in the local cotton mill. My caretakers were my Native American 
great-grandmother and an African-American woman, both great storytellers. Instead of playing like most children, I sat at 
the feet of these elderly strong-minded individuals listening to the stories of their lives. Summers’, I would be taken to my
fathers’ sister, in Birmingham Alabama; it was she who introduced me to a library, and to her circle of friends that included 
local writers, artist and politicians. She encouraged my imagination with the gift of my first journal, which I filled with stories. 
Nonetheless, with adulthood I became a closet writer with my desires to create remaining clandestine until only the past 
few years when I begin to pursue writing short stories and poetry. 


Sipseys Lake. by A. J. Johnson.

Castles in the Sky

Family, loyalty and the sureness of existence
Childhood is building castles in the sky, promising…
Always to remember times gone by.

Years go quickly, hopes, dreams, searching for
Approval, love, kindness, inevitability the naked
Truth spirals you into mortal awareness.

A conscientious world of thought, finding that life
Sometimes comes at unbearable costs…
Obstacles impossible to penetrate, stop struggling
With what cannot be changed, it may be your own
Life that you must celebrate.

Do not struggle to identify with something that is
Gone, accept, and move toward a certainty that
You have survived on your own.

If reality becomes lost or misplaced in death and you
Feel the last corner has been turned it is then that
You must find truth in the lessons that you have learned.

Forget what never was and what would never be,
Free your mind of doubt, let go of the castles in the sky…
Promising always to remember times gone by.


The Beauty of Summer. by A. J. Johnson.

Time Travels On

Childhood, innocence
Finding wonder in a misty
Morning watching earth come
Alive crowned in radiance and…
Time travels on.

Greeting each day with excitement
Looking forward to what may
Come watching the sun nudge a
Sleeping world awake and…
Time travels on.

Days long but untiring filled with
Adventure living brings a thirst for
Knowledge and…
Time travels on.

Youth a turbulent sea of change
Rides forward on waves of
Bewilderment bringing the death of
Childhood innocence moves into the
Shadows and…
Time travels on.

The calm and chaotic winds of
Maturity lifts spirits toward
Mountaintops into valleys it is the
Poignancy of existence lost yesterdays
Distrustful tomorrows days encrusted in the
Epoch of now and …
Time travels on.

Satisfying the needs of others impossible
Fulfilling ones own desires forgotten
Days become rutted hope dwells in an
Inconsistent void within only unswerving
Survival left and …
Time travels on.

Elderly twisted broken memory gathers
Valued moments that time cannot erase
Reflection of what has been hope disappears and…
Time travels on.

Life moves forward existence change
Morning brings purity in watching the sky come
Alive exhilarating is the greeting of each day
A rising sun nudges a waking world days are short and
Tiring thirst for adventure knowledge appears
Disappears and…
Time travels on.


Mother and Child by A. J. Johnson.

As a Child I Chanted, It Was Our Way

Knarred pines below our mountain were
Living gravestones on the land, we called
Home; high above them were the kudzu-
Shrouded caves where I played with
Skinned knees, hoarfrost eyes and
Long black braids.

Below the mountain was hallowed ground
And beneath decaying pine needles the
Bleached bones of my ancestors lay hidden
In the mounds.

Great-grandmother said the mountain was
A cathedral a place she took me to pray,
As a child, I chanted it was our way.

As the night shadows disappeared in
Mornings golden rays, we raised our hands
Toward the sky to bless another day.

Great-grandmothers’ voice strong and clear
Both high pitch and low came from deep
Within her as if orchestrated by her soul.

Floating across the mountains scarred granite
Face our mantra rose to the Great Spirit as we
Honored an ancient sacred place.

The sounds of a waking earth reminded us of
How the world came to be, our prayers spoke
Of rebirth and that our souls would someday be

We ran through emerald grass damp with
Morning dew, the unseen breezes kissed our
Face and our life was once again renewed.

As we hurried to a nearby creek to wash away
Yesterday’s sorrow I wished that this is how our
Lives would always be, I would never grow up and
She would never grow old, great-grandmother
And me.

The dusk of evening found us returning to the
Creek to bath in the glow of the setting sun
Where once again we lifted our faces to the sky
grateful to Mother Earth for another beautiful day.

Yes as a child I chanted, it was our way.


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