"as i walk into the green garden"


and as i walk into the green garden

that is always dying

the faces

of the Lost Ones

still blossoming before me

like so many

brightly-colored flowers

that never fade



my mother –

her old bones

asleep on the hill

overlooking the ranch

above a crumbling cabin

that echoes yet

with story

keep watch

keep track


as butter-fat wolf-pups

wrestle with the frosted ends

of snow-covered moose bones

and ravenous ravens

laughing like magpies

swoop down from stunted jackpines

to scour the boreal vista

vying forever for whatever leftovers

are left


my heart has memorized

the saddle-straddled coffin

and a line of sad-faced mourners

moving slowly forward

behind a rider-less Red Fox pony

escorting The Yukon Horse Woman


carrying her up that mountain

one last time


where goes the green of summer

when Northwinds come

to howl away the sun

what’s left of the fatted calf

that once was life

that hovers now ghost-like

upon some foreign horizon

where do the living

really go


a sudden burst of wolf wind

thrashes through the buckbrush

quieting the neigh of gentle horses

caressing my friendless ear

as if in answer

and the sun rises higher

than God

as the sparkling midnight waters

begin to dance across the lake

©pj johnson 2012



"welcome to my fantis-phere"


the story of my life today

is written on the wind

it howls down the mountainside

it echoes like a sin

it dances with your memory

it hides inside your smile

it quivers like a heartbeat

come dance with me awhile


welcome to my fantis-phere

shake hands with all my grief

we’ll speak the foreign languages

that have no real belief

it’s all just words that never end

and dreams that never age

like schools of fish that flash and fade

and swim upon a page


you can’t deny your destiny

your edge is melting down

your bones are bent on ecstasy

but all you have is now

the flames of hell reach out to you

the snakes are on their way

the wind calls foul and strikes you out

there’s nothing left to say


you hunger for that mother-beat

that spoke to you in tongues

and wrapped you in its sanctity

and nearly struck you dumb

the hounds of hell are closing in

they’re nipping at your heel

to run. to hide. you can’t decide

there’s nothing left to feel


welcome to my fantis-phere

shake hands with all my grief

we’ll speak the foreign languages

that have no real belief

it’s all just words that never end

and dreams that never age

like schools of fish that flash and fade

and swim upon a page

©pj johnson 2013


In the 1970’s I was a young single parent living in a cabin in the Yukon wilderness. In those days there were many colourful Yukon characters about, one such being my old friend ‘O. D.’ Don Brown. With his shaggy grey beard and tattered old Stetson he was the quintessential image of a Yukon Sourdough.

O.D was laid to rest in 1985. Sometimes I still drop by to visit him.


"hey o.d. "


hey o.d.

just last week i saw you

hangin’ out on main street

in your tattered old stetson

with the word YUKON

blazed across the hatband

so busy tellin’ lies to the

salesgirl in Mac’s

you didn’t even see me


wasn’t it just yesterday

we were neighbors

livin’ on bannock and moose meat

out there in the bush

-you mindin’ the babies

so i could hitch a ride

down to the laundrymat?

well those babies they’re pretty much

all grown up now


but i still remember you

out there in your

old red mackinaw

standin’ by the woodpile

thrashin’ away like a

windmill in a snowstorm

you swung a mean axe, man

chopping wood for you

was an art form


then on cheque days

you’d barge in the door

a bottle-a hootch in one hand

a barrel-a chicken in the other


“where’s the party?”

“where’s the party?”

i’d find you in the morning

on the floor beside the woodstove


but then a cigarette

an’ a cup of coffee later

you were playin’ your harmonica

dancing with the dog

and laughing about the night

you broke the door down

with a frozen hind of moose

because you couldn’t find

your key


last friday at the T&M

i said “how ya doin’ o.d.?”

you just grinned

winked at me

and said

“i’m on my way out, y’know.”

“dyin’ eh?”

“i’m sorry,” i said

and meant it



she’s mad as hell

said you’d wanted your ashes

spread over Grey Mountain

i said “well at least he’ll be

on the mountain”

she just walked away

never did have a

sense of humour


well i gotta go

it’s gettin’ late

you know you can

almost see the river from here?

it’s really not so bad

for a cemetery

hey o.d. you never know

place might kinda

grow on ya


time to hit the road

i’ll come by and see you again


maybe bring the dog

i’ll say hi to the kids for ya

and hey you old

streak a’ misery

try an’ stay outta trouble


©pj johnson 1985


"faith is"


faith is a journey

to a place you’ve never been

without a name


faith is knowing

that the sun is always there

even when you can’t see it


faith is believing

god gave us the rainbow

because there is always hope


faith is hearing

the voice of an angel

in the prayer of a child


faith is pausing

to admire the beauty of a butterfly

knowing god made it


faith is waiting

for the salmon to return

because you know they will


faith is perseverance

pursuing your dream

when the world says you can’t


faith is sometimes accepting

that you must walk through the fire

before you can walk into the light


faith is an embrace 

that comforts you

in the howl of a storm


faith is a quiet voice

that tells you

you are worth loving


faith is discovering

that there really are

no coincidences


faith is an unlocked door

you choose to walk through

or not

©pj johnson 2010