western eye press



POEMS by Richard Johnston


Rooting for Humanity

by Richard Johnston, 74 pages, $9.95 softbound





Also available from amazon.com.


Rooting for Humainity is a collection of poetry by Richard Johnston ranging from the personal to the planetary. These poems arise from a warm heart and a sharp and skeptical intelligence. As a history professor and inveterate globe trotter, Johnston has spent a lifetime reflecting on mankind's follies and failures to live up to its ideals. His poetry spares no one, no creed, no doctrinaire craziness, but still manages to celebrate elemental and abiding human passions, and delights. A critique leavened with humor—these poems ring true. They will make you smile, although sometimes ruefully.


Under Control


Birth control

for some a sin to expiate

they hesitate to try it


Girth control

from wide-spread fear

of overweight

we leap on any diet


Mirth control

from deep distrust

of joy sensate

blue laws would deny it



Graveyard of Empires


These dark and angry moments

when a nation's heart must weep

lost people turned upon themselves

in a rashness of despair

lacking will to meet the task

for want of savoir faire

and leaders with the guts to ask

that we assume our due

are destined then to sorrow

we kill them and others who

might rise to meet tomorrow


O Kennedys, O Malcom X

O Martin Luther King

O countless sons of Uncle Sam

whose buried bones lie moldering

victims of monumental scam

black hole of soul called Vietnam

and even more repulsive yet

a therapy of shock and awe

to wipe the slate of history

inciting us to just forget

to spend our blood for oil and power

avenging now those shattered towers

where all this foolishness began

that graveyard called Afghanistan

About the poet

Richard Johnston grew up in an itinerant working family in the Pacific Northwest. His father, an agnostic socialist, devoted his energy to organizing railroad workers. During World War II, Richard served in the U.S. Army first as a private in infantry training and subsequently, as both a student and faculty member of the U.S. Counter Intelligence Corps School at Holabird Signal Depot in Baltimore, Maryland. After the war, Johnston earned an Ed.D. at Columbia University under the G.I. Bill. While director of the American School in Paris, Johnston traveled extensively with his wife, photographer Mary Alice Johnston, a la bicyclette, across a recovering Europe almost devoid of automobiles. Back in the States, after teaching in three major universities, he became a founding faculty member of an experimental public affairs school at Sangamon State University (now the University of Illinois at Springfield) where he was also the publisher/editor of an academic journal "Community College Frontiers" (1976–1982).


Today, as a retired Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Illinois at Springfield, Richard Johnston divides his time between various community service projects in Colorado and his second career as a writer. He finds writing to be "good therapy, better than religion and cheaper than psychiatry." He has published two novels. The first, The Big Lie, is set in Paris in the 1950s. The second, The Circle Broken, is set in 17th century Quebec (La Nouvelle France) and relates the romance of a Wendat Indian girl and a young Frenchman, an indentured apprentice to the explorer Robert Cavalier de La Salle. Johnston hopes to use historical fiction to convince readers that violence is not power and that humility in politics is an attribute of strength not weakness. Rooting for Humanity is his first collection of poetry.