Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Reggie D. Johnson (aka R.D. Johnson)

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

Reggie: I started writing at the age of nine as a hobby I did on summer vacations. Langston Hughes was one of my first influences.

Q2: Who is your biggest influence today?

Reggie: The writers I’ve come into contact on social media who I’ve become very good friends with: Natalie Hernandez (@yerrrnandez), Luis Delossantos (@CoolerStoryMarc), Harold Fonseca (@halfxyou), Elijah Horton (@elijahhorton94), Chris Butler (@CLBpoetry) Daniel Alvarez (@itsdannylondon), Bruce Llano (@Beeruce_Sama).

WolfPack Contributor Bio: Chris L. Butler

Q3: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing/art?

Reggie: Cincinnati, Ohio. I was taught to write about things you know and have experienced. Speaking personal truths will help to strengthen your writing.

Q4: Have any travels away from home influenced your work & describe if so?

Reggie: Yes, I recently took a trip to Orlando, Florida to meet up with some of my friends who inspire me continuously. That time away and being in that environment with all them helped me create some dope content that I can’t wait to share with everyone very soon.

green coconut trees
Photo by Kenrick Mills (unsplash)

Q5: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a poet/writer/artist?

Reggie: When Drake released his Take Care Album. After 9, I didn’t pick up poetry again seriously til I turned 19. That album showed so much versatility in his writing and the ability to express his emotions through art was inspiring.

Q6: Favorite activities to help you relax when not writing/creating?

Reggie: Playing video games, listening to music.

Q7: Any recent or upcoming promotional work you’d like to do now?

Reggie: I have a surprise project dropping July 1st, with Daily Drunk Magazine and then at the end of the summer I’ll be releasing my tenth book.

Q8: One of your favorite lines from a poem of yours?

Reggie:     
From my poem 'Look At Me' found in my book, Cuarentena: 
                   
                   "I am black
                    I am then
                    I am now
                    I am what's to come
                    We are not less than
                    We are equal
                    We just want to be heard
                    And not for your entertainment
                    I am black
                    And you will not take that away from me"

  
                   
https://www.amazon.com/Cuarentena-Reggie-Johnson/dp/108791115X

Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?

Reggie: A few people. Natalie Hernandez & Luis Delossantos taught me to not minimize the writing. Keep writing as it doesn’t matter how long it is or that it needs to stop at a certain length. Harold Fonseca, Elijah Horton taught me to expand the creativity. My love for music has now transcended into new territories as it has not only incorporated in my writing but I’ve had the pleasure of doing songwriting too. Also, Harold and Chris Butler have taught me to be the voice of a generation. In these last few years with everything going on in the world, the way I could ease my thoughts was in writing. I thank all of them for pushing me to the next level.

Wolfpack Contributor Bio: R.D. Johnson

Links to Reggie’s work on this blog.

Poem by R.D. Johnson: “Just a Scratch” (new poetry)

Poetry by R.D. Johnson : (Not Just On) Juneteenth

4 Poems by R.D. Johnson : Malcolm & Martin, Angels, Dr. King’s Dream & February 1st (re-post)

A few older poems & short stories by David L O’Nan

From Baroness to Barista

She was born to minor royalty
A family of limp broken eyes
The baron,
The manager of the needles
While the coronets all fell to the trails,
In opium dens with tin bell mafias
They limp, and limp

And die, and die

And she got away in the arms of the whip
And all his Navy friends watched.

Toes curled,
Ears shattered
On blacktops the feet begin to lose their holiness.

In the gothic moon,
She absorbs a spirit in her blood
On the steps of a Vermont chill
Holding a bow,
Impinging the dirty minds
And a cry into pure hands

While a cultured city lifts her up
Walk by the downtown guitar musicians
Air smells like caramel popcorn
She walks by fashionable stores
With dapper dressed mannequins
And she enters the coffee shop
To change the world
A barista, and not the slave.

She left the car keys with the failures
And left the highs in the dumps of the baron.

Dark Blue Puddles

As the clouds begin colliding
Crushing spirits
Bleeding beauty after only 1 raindrop
The feet are fading fast
This walk is exhausting
The breathing is just another trap
The care is existing,
But from another existence.
Walking through another night
Pitch black with the blue puddles for eyes
Following me everywhere
Long giant steps
The rain intensifies
Yet, I feel dry
I must be in thought
Beyond feeling anything
Only this moment
The beauty you leave is still bleeding
Leaving every raindrop drying
Before it is captured to our skin.

Young Love

Her love is green
Too young to feel it
His love is greed
Too busy to know it.

The shadow calls you by the wrong name
You still open the door.
The deceiver just picked up the message
And brushed you away
So you go
Much like the wind, to stay astray
Blow away and attach yourself
To a curious cloud
Feeling too good to be real
Your eyes are a petrified shade of blue.

I saw you in a dream before,
And felt as though you might be the only one -
who could shape what is inside of me.
I had hopes that it would all make sense soon.
To feel clear finally, dare myself to live this dream.

The pain i'd feel
As I watched you make decisions, anxiously
As you fade to another day's tomb.
The stars are crossing each other,
Forming one big hole
Leaving the galaxy breathless
Without a beautiful view to bestow.

You had been searching for your soul since you saw -
Him hanging there in your childhood years
You made me smile after many nights in despair.
I felt, as a childish man
That I could help find you
Maybe I could even fight another round.

And when we connected,
Our minds lost those clouds
To me,
To you maybe a sea or two away.
You've had too many users leave you with an abused heart,
Always some clumsy man.

I saw the woman with the tears of a young girl
The hurt you let out,
Was a hurt that I thought I could bandage with my humor
I tried to pull the trigger and tell you when to start.
Your heart was in a frozen state.

I felt a gust of genius smother through the brain
I tried to control the situation, and rescue the girl
From the control of the man who had her heart.
She was a trophy to show his friends.

The plot only thickens, the blood boils as well
As he curses you thousands of miles away
And leaves you remembering your purgatory,
To escape from that personal hell.

He's blind to what he has
He drinks away his military fears,
He wants to feel important, 
to drink in your tears
Hoping that he becomes the power of two.

You search for the light,
The answers from many
His phantom still looms in your head
His greedy smile tortures you into a trap
Swept away your happiness,
your entity lives in thin air.
You forgot you were once free
New locks are always binding you into the walls.

And I just had to watch myself grow
And inherit in more fear
As you sit silent with your eyes staring into the moon of
This coffee room.

$22 To Get Me to Chicago

You have 22 unheard voicemail messages
From 22 angry friends and 22 collection agencies.
Can your moped travel to Chicago from Indy?
With $22 in his pocket, mama
Coming home to see you.
With a mob of the ragged following along the way
Playing the hangman in shades of gray
He feels the busting, tired on a spread of spikes
The money falls through his dirty moleskin jacket
It's tangled around the tires
And his Redbull cans crush against the rocks -
When he hit the brakes.
With his cranium in red hills on the pike
The cops in black cars hold the butter teeth sheriffs.
They are quick to bark like a truck driver
Drunk on cherry wine.
Put on the handcuffs with an ambulance on standby
Pushing time trying to write his wrongs.
$22 is all he had.

You can call Chicago the desert road
He will not be going far
To meet all the phantoms in the glow
Of the Crossroads prison.

New Breath

Caught in a whiplash
I smell fear across the seas
The coils are spinning in a global glass
The hurting behind all masks
I saw you sitting
behind a cursed tree
Drinking another drip of your soul
The funeral filling up with smoke
All ashes lit on fire
A new end to an old beginning
And the brown eyed girl
was left at the altar
Divinity collapsing down,
clutching her chest
Lost another day,
the river lingers in crests
A saddened soldier
was buried in a moonbeam
Lunar rays were glowing over his young face
A war that took away his name
And left him as another generic American
The spirit of Stalin was inside his tomb
With bells ringing the new sounds of doom
And the rants of a younger generation
Would be heard through towns,
in cities of desperation
I couldn't understand
The remnants of these aging bones
Wrinkles, faded memories,
with the new breath of hate.

The Blues is Nothing New

You think your breath could change the world,
but all I see is your old shoes
A soul without a clue
A mannequin brain fool
A media driven tool
Well, you know the blues is nothing new

I believe you think you're kind
as you smile at the poor,
I believe you think your mind
Is something all can adore.

But your mind is a shapeshifter
between oppression and insanity
You treat your family like marbles 
clashing together in an old timey game of bravery

You are the epitome of ego and sour grapes
You turn a new leaf over just to see a similar stain,
I'm no longer in your shade
and brought sunshine to the pouring rain.

And you think that everything is cool
while we drown in your cesspool
The common man rule like a skipping record
a scratching, fading voice becoming blistered

You learned that you weren't as special as your own
a deity confession spewed it of your sins i'm told
Well, son you can talk all day to fools and the dew
I'm here to tell you that the blues is nothing new.

Wolfpack Contributor EIC Bios:  David L O’Nan & HilLesha O’Nan

#stopthehate Poems by Malak K Chehab : Flood of Faith, Who Says? Untitled, & Real or Shadows

Pray, Hands, Praying Hands, Sculpture

Flood of Faith

The floodgates of heaven are open.
Deluge, drizzle, gush, sprinkle, full blown storm,
All pouring down on the unsuspecting human
Who looks to the sky for hope and prayer
That their wishes will be realized in little time?

A connoisseur revels in such a flood of hope,
Peace, and satisfaction in seeing their fortune 
Grow like the plant taking from the soil in the hope
To welcome the sky with its dainty fingers, in a breath,
That could touch the limitless well of yearning that's baby blue.

What's wealth in contrast to health and peace of mind?
Where there's money, there is covetousness 
and fear
Of loss of material power and overpowering those weaker.
When health is the issue,  no amount of money 
Or bribery will endow your blossoming again.

Finally,  if your conscience is clear, you can sleep 
Deeply without any worries as your faith and morals
Adhere to something greater than the worries of humans;
Your perception is a well of knowledge that those 
Who follow their values instead of social edicts
Will never feel the need for more and more money, only faith. 

Real or Shadows

Tug of war, tug of joy, tug of fear,
While tugging at shadows of terror
The horror before me leaves me asunder.

Toddlers screaming at one another
The incomprehensible presence of others
Of the same size, behavior, and voices bother.

Their tiny fingers touch and retreat quickly 				
Unbelieving that they are real, unlike the scrutiny 
That's only an image in the mirror that you study.

These toddlers are three years of age
And have rarely interacted with babies on a bike.
They panic when inundated with as many a babe.

Run, scram, hide, rake, scratch, scream at them all
Making sure you're heard having a Devine ball
Jumping from one room to the next after each fall.

How do we manage kids' trauma caused
By the imposed isolation that bred
Mistrust and trepidation from youngsters that fears abound?

With vaccines around, life may take reign again, 
How will adults behave after such imposed pain
Of seclusion, social distancing, and nary a train

To transport you past the need to be alone,
Not lonely, no, just alone in your bubble home.
It's more serene and relaxing that way for thee.

Who Says?

Who says you have to be perfect?
Who says perfection is all it’s cracked up to be?
Who says you have to follow all the rule? 
Who says you have to live with the stereotypes of gender?
Who says you can't make your own way?
Who says you can't impose self-respect?
Who says that life is but an evil fairy tale?
Who says that magic and wonder exist?
Who says you aren't an island?
Who says you can't survive, alone, happily?
Who says your beliefs are nothing but lies?
Who says your faith is ridiculous?
Who says your values aren't shared?
Who says that science has taken away wonder?
Who says that life isn't itself a wonder?
Who says that magic doesn't infiltrate all your pores?
Who says that love, values, God aren't your only recourses?

Untitled

"Man has it all in his hands, and it all slips through his fingers from sheer cowardice." Fyodor Dostoevsky

To be a coward, 
One must:

Fear being changed, 
Fear loving it,
Fear beauty,
Fear being hopeful,
Fear the inspirational,
Fear of being an individual, 
Fear of being assertive, 
Fear of being humane,
Fear of being disruptive,
Fear of being positive. 

When all is locked in a chest,
How can you break its best
From solid bonds that need a rest?

Take pride in 'you', the 'person's,
Have faith in yourself and press on,
Knowing that what's right will live on!


Bio: 
Hi, my name is Malak Kalmoni Chehab.  I am an introvert who was born to Lebanese parents in Ghana.  When the Civil War broke out there, we moved to Lebanon only to face the same problem; so we moved to Canada.  I was raised there as a teen and young adult, before marrying and moving back to Lebanon.  I married, had 3 kids, raised them there and went back to University there to complete my teaching diploma and MA in Comparative English Literature. I taught all levels of school and college, before the political situation went down the drain, and had to move to Canada with my kids to provide a better future for them.  My husband, a veteran, whose career spanned over a quarter decade, helped me meet a variety of social classes, whose problems were freely discussed.
Living through such upheavals has made me bear witness to injustices that are inhumane, and they’ve stayed within me until I had the courage, inspired by my children and husband, to start writing, as they knew my love of reading and disappointment in third world countries’ political climates that are the results of colonization

The Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with musician, writer Ron Sexsmith

From http://www.RonSexsmith.com

Ron Sexsmith is an acclaimed singer/songwriter musician from Ontario, Canada. He has been putting out records since the mid 1980’s and signed with Interscope/Warner in the 90’s and began putting out a collection of records that gained attention from not just fans, but other musicians such as Elvis Costello. He has worked with Chris Martin of Coldplay, R.E.M., one of my favorites Leonard Cohen, Ane Brun & many more. He’s had work covered by Rod Stewart, Feist, Emmylou Harris, k.d. Lang, Michael  Bublé , Nick Lowe. His latest album in 2020 is “Hermitage” and should be sought out today. Also, please look for Ron’s book “Deer Life” through Dundurn Press. (2017)

The Last Rider
Ron’s album “The Last Rider” in 2017 (Compass Records)




Hermitage (2020 – Cooking Vinyl)

Q1: When did you start writing & first influences?

Ron: My first attempts at writing songs came in my mid teens which was mostly riff rock with dumb lyrics. Mostly influences by UK bands like the Beatles & Kinks. I didn’t start writing anything decent until I was about 21, and by then my influences were Leonard Cohen and Gordon Lightfoot & Dylan, etc.

Q2: Who is your biggest influences today?

Ron: Most of the same people although i’m quite obsessed with Warren Zevon these days.

Q3: Where did you grow up and how that influence your writing/art?

Ron: I grew up in St. Catharines, Ontario in the mid 60’s and 70’s, which was a great time for radio. All the songs I heard were so melodic with such thought provoking lyrics that made life feel quite magical.

Q4: Have any travels away from home influenced work/describe if so?

Ron: I’ve written many songs on the road while on tour, etc. So I guess the short answer is yes…

Q5: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be an artist/writer/poet?

Ron: When I found out I was born on Elvis Presley’s birthday as I turned seven and promptly fell down a flight of stairs.

Q6: Favorite activities when not writing/performing to relax?

Ron: Walking mostly and reading

Q7: Any recent or upcoming promotional work you’d like to do?

Ron: I’m hoping my tour will happen next year. It’s been postponed 3 times now.

Q8: One of your favorite lines from your poem/song, or favorite piece of art or photograph?

Ron: “In every nowhere town, there are somewhere dreams” from my song “Love Shines”

Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?

Ron: Other than my influences, perhaps Mitchell Froom who produced my first 3 records.

10. Thank you for a quick interview.

Ron: My pleasure!

4 poems by Ronald Tobey from Four Liminal Moments Unprepared Encounters with Women

Stinson Lake Memoir


Near the last Iroquois Algonquin clash
you wear red lipstick
frosted pink
know I too am Abenaki
Maine ancestors near yours
paint me a warrior
kissing stripes on my cheeks
red your fingers
paint your mons war color
on my phallus too
command me to take my courage
from the liquor of your fertility
warning your competition
giving fear to our enemies.

Dorothy Hamill Ends My First Marriage


Dorothy Hamill ends my first marriage
1974
in your apartment on the third floor
of the Spanish revival hotel
above the blue-lighted swimming pool
palm-lined courtyard
warm eve of Valentine’s day
Southern California’s star-sparkle sky
we watch her win a national competition
navel orange blossoms
perfume the rooms
through an opened wood-mullion window
with eight lights
I call my wife
use the wall-mount phone
you walk over from the couch against the far wall
cover the black round mouthpiece with your hand
“I don’t want you to go”
you are twenty-two years old
married for one year
I will be late
Dorothy Hamill’s leaping double axel
astonishes television commentators
“10”s goes up on the board.

Girl in Stardust Café


You steal my heart away,
waitressing in Stardust Café,
somewhere between specials and dessert,
you decide to flirt,
between the tables dance your way
swing your skirt
as graceful as Salomé
while balancing platters on a tray –
kinder than she though I must say,
and softly linger tap my shoulder
to make me bolder.
If you read this verse by chance
likely not in “People” mag
or other national gossip rags
perhaps an anonymous note
pinned on the billboard in Ace Hardware
might these rhymes
suggest romance
do we dare
and rhythms of the lines
other joys, other times.

Waiting Room

In the ENT clinic waiting room
we half-dozen patients sit on alternate chairs
silent dutiful wear masks
your four-year-old bashful son in tow
orange “Paws and Tales” Halloween cartoons
illustrate his child’s size mask
lighted sneakers flash as he walks and jumps
eyes not glimpsing away from you
you navigate through the two storm doors
too preoccupied to acknowledge the elderly chorus watching
you stand at the closed reception window
explain his visit lift him for a forehead temperature scan
while you answer questions
sign and pass papers through a 1-inch slit.
I recognize your tight Diesel soft-denim jeans
a center-shot cartridge head on the belt buckle
tucked into your Autumn rainy weather cowgirl boots
the plaid shirt and a serviceable pony tail
swings like a wind sock at a rural pasture airport
pulling back your luxurious brown hair
you loved to drape over me.
When I am called into an exam room
do you hear my name?
You do not see me, I sit in the corner,
behind stars printed on the deep blue-black sky
drawn across my face
the same color as the ink
in my old Parker fountain pen, medium nib,
I used to write to you a year and half ago
my hands with early arthritis haltingly scratched letters
on the blank stiff cream-colored note card
my confused masked heart
the end of our affaire.

Bio from Ronald Tobey:

Ron Tobey lives in West Virginia, where he and his wife raise cattle and keep goats and horses. He is an imagist poet, grounding experiences and moods in concrete descriptions, including haiku, storytelling, and recorded poetry, and in filmic interpretation. He occasionally uses the pseudonym, Turin Shroudedindoubt, for literary and artistic work. He has published in several dozen digital and print literary magazines, including Truly U Review, Prometheus Dreaming, Broadkill Review, Cabinet of Heed, Atticus Review, Punk Noir, and The Light Ekphrastic. His Twitter handle is @Turin54024117