National Crisis Intervention Training Institute, Inc.
The first of many "Poetic Tributes" is dedicated to Sara Maisano, who was brutally murdered on June 26, 2013. Sara is the daughter of Jim and Alicia Maisano. Jim is a Founding Member of both our Governing and Advisory Boards of Directors. Sara was dedicated to protecting God's Creatures. In her honor, the Maisano family has asked friends and family to donate to the Norman Animal Welfare Center, located at 201-B W. Gray, Norman, OK 73069. Donations should be earmarked by writing "Sara" or "Cat Porch" on the memo line of your donation.
Sara, the world was a much more bright, kind, gentle, and loving place with you in it. We love you.
You’ll Take That Puppy for a Walk
By Joel Johnson
I didn’t know you on this earth,
But knew your Dad before your birth.
We served together “way back when,”
And now, Dear Child, I call him “Friend.”
I also have the joy to know
Your precious Mom, who loves you so;
As well as Trent, who has steel nerves,
As he, like Dad, protects and serves.
Melissa’s in my heart, as well.
She loves you; I know you can tell.
She misses you, and prays each night
That God will always hold you tight.
Through them, I’ve come to love you, too.
My heart breaks o’er what you went through.
When your cold killer came to trial,
I sat there with your parents while
The judge sent Thompson on his way
To never see the light of day.
I sat there and looked in the eyes
Of that cold monster, and despised
His heartless, senseless coward’s act.
I know, Dear Child, this truthful fact:
That Justice will be met some day
When he does cower, weep and pray
For mercy, but will not find peace;
His pain and torment will not cease.
Remorse was not what he displayed,
On his face cruel hatred stayed.
It struck me how his ugly soul
Was like a black, consuming hole;
So different from your shining light,
That brightened up the darkest night.
Our world was kinder, gentler, Child,
When you were in it, undefiled.
And Heaven’s now a better place,
Since you moved in, Sweet Child of Grace.
My son lives there, I hope you’ve met.
When you died, I asked him to get
With you, and show you all around.
I hope, with him, that you have found
A puppy living in the air;
Now free from hunger and despair.
I hope when you and Adam talk,
You’ll Take That Puppy for a Walk.
Copyright 2015, Joel Johnson
This next "Poetic Tribute" is dedicated to, and about, the Director's Beloved Son, Adam, who died on January 8, 2009. Adam was a grass-roots humanitarian, dedicated to aiding the "homeless." As a "Busker," his ministry was simple. He would take his tip money, find a hungry homeless person, buy two meals, and sit and dine with his new, disenfranchised friend. He gave his companions more than food: he gave them dignity, respect, and hope. Adam suffered from mental illness, plagued by anxiety, depression, and more. Adam was shot and killed at 5:30 a.m., on January 8, 2009, during an acute mental health crisis, which occurred in his apartment. He died on the floor of his living room, two and a half hours before he was scheduled to donate blood at the Oklahoma Blood Institute.
Three nights earlier, he and his father had spoken at great length about Adam's plans to return to college, complete his undergraduate degree, and then apply for law school. Adam wanted to be an advocacy attorney, representing people who were helpless and hopeless. In the meantime, he planned on continuing to help people the best way he knew how: with his music.
This poem, written in his memory, is entitled:
Flying Without a Net
by Joel Johnson (Adam's Dad)
He went to cities near and far
To sing, and play his sweet guitar.
He met the eyes of passersby;
Sometimes they’d smile, sometimes they’d cry.
As sweet sounds filled the very air,
Inspiring folks to smile and share
The moment as a blessed time;
To bask in his poetic rhyme.
He asked for nothing but an ear.
He hoped that they would truly hear
His inner song, so it would start
To heal a hurting, lonely heart.
But as they listened, hearts were joined.
They often shared their pocket coins,
Or dollar bills, or subway cards.
They found that sharing was not hard
To do, and that was what the lad
Had hoped they'd learn; it made him glad
For lessons learned through money shared;
He knew the needy would be spared
Another day without a meal.
He prayed his songs would also heal
The deepest, darkest void of all:
The loneliness that oft did call
Those helpless, hurting folks to lie
In misery, with hope to die.
For he gave gifts more than mere food.
He gave them faith in what is good;
Not just in others, but within.
Their dignity would oft begin
To be restored, as they were touched
By that dear lad who gave so much.
His job was simple: to reach out,
To help, to heal, and do without
So he could take the coins he earned,
And share them with folks often spurned,
And cast aside, often not seen
By folks who were so often mean
And cruel, and who ignored the pain;
Of those oft deemed “society’s stain.”
He also gave them gifts of time
And friendship, then he'd share a rhyme
Or song, or joke, with his new friends
To give them dignity again.
He'd treated them no differently
Than other folks whose lives were free
From hunger, fear, and homelessness.
Through this kind gift God's Love did bless.
He played and sang to bring a smile
To folks who sat and waited while
Their trains approached, who didn’t know
That this was no mere busker's show;
But, rather, was a Tool of Grace,
To make the world a better place.
As that sweet minstrel ventured out
To comfort, heal, and dampen doubt
About the beauty of the soul,
He found it also made him whole.
He told forgotten, homeless ones
That they were God’s Adopted Sons.
Sometimes the homeless, sitting near,
Forgot their loss, and all their fear,
And tossed what meager gifts they had
Into the hat of that sweet lad.
God’s Voice told him to not refuse.
He saw their need to give and choose
To act in new-found dignity;
Their "widow's mite" had set them free.
He long ago gave God his gift,
Although his pain inside did sift
And tear apart his inner peace;
But he did not let his heart cease
To beat with love, until he lost
His earthly life, when it was tossed
Aside on a most tragic day,
When bullets took his life away.
But rest assured he didn’t cease
To draw a breath; to feel God’s peace.
For he lives on in hearts of men
Who learned to love themselves again.
Because of simple acts of love
Through that dear lad, from God above,
His music rings inside their souls
As they rejoice, now that they’re whole
Because a friend flew far above
Without a net, to share God’s love.
He shared his life, his song, his meal,
So God could touch, restore, and heal.
Copyright 2013, Joel Johnson (All Rights Reserved)
An age-old topic of debate:
“Once they are gone, is it too late?”
When grief is pierced by shining hope,
How can we ever learn to cope
With all our pain, and all our fears?
We learn to take our precious tears,
And turn them into sweetest wine;
To quench the thirst within our mind.
But while I have the Joy to know
That my last times with my Son showed
Him, without doubt, that he was loved,
I prayer to My Sweet Lord Above
To place a Hand of Peace upon
The heads of parents who have gone
With deep regret and harsh remorse,
Upon a sad, most-tragic course
That their relationships did take.
For those poor souls, my heart does break,
Because they feel such guilt and pain.
I pray that they will lose the stain
That tarnishes their mem'ries of
Their time with children whom they love.
I pray that they might find a way
To wash the guilt and shame away.
Those parents yearn for peace, and yet,
If buried deep in harsh regret,
The wine and roses cannot heal
The horrid pain that they oft feel.
So when their darkest mem'ries grow,
Like roses red in whitest snow,
They’re robbed of beauty in their lives,
As thorns pierce them like sharpened knives.
And so, they languish in their pain,
Filled with regret, and oft remain
In misery, in darkened days;
Forgotten peace, it never stays.
Our grief recovery oft depends,
On how we overcome loose ends.
The harshest pain a parent feels,
Is when the death of their child steals
The life from deep within their heart;
Their very soul is torn apart.
My Precious God oft says to me
These words that have helped set me free:
“Please trust, dear Joel; know that I
Have wiped the tear from Adam’s eye.
Your child now knows My Joy and Peace;
His time with Me shall never cease.”
“With a now-perfect mind he knows
That you love them and miss him so.”
And while those words don’t stop the pain,
I can, at least, go forth again.
For those who do not know the joy
Of sweet peace with your girl or boy,
I pray that you will someday see
That self-forgiveness is the key.
So make amends some other way.
I pray your child will always stay
In constant contact with your heart;
And from your life will n’er depart.
I pray, my friends, God’s Peace you’ll know,
And through your hearts will always flow
Those memories of sweet love that stays:
Of Roses Red, and Sweet Wine Days.
Copyright 2015, Joel Johnson
In midst of night I often long
To hear the beauty of your song;
To know the joy and peace once more,
That came from standing at your door.
While listening as you'd fall asleep,
I prayed the Lord your soul to keep
In His Hands, but I really meant
For you to live your life content.
I wanted you to always be
Right there, sitting atop my knee.
I wanted you to always live
Your life with all that I could give.
It’s normal for a Daddy to
Wish all the best, and feel the true
Desire to shield, protect, and guard
His child from all that’s cruel and hard;
To want to give his Precious Child
A pain-free world that's undefiled;
To make it his most precious chore
To ask God to forever more
Grant peace and joy and all the things
That living in His Pasture brings.
And so, I’d walk up to your bed,
And place my hand upon your head.
Through that soft touch my soul had found
Beside your bed was Hallowed Ground,
Where I would place upon your chest
My hand to make sure you would rest
In safety, comfort, blessed peace.
I prayed your life would never cease
To know His Blessings and His Hand
Upon your life. I’d always stand
And tarry there just for awhile.
Your face would cause my heart to smile.
I’d thank the Lord, as Daddies do;
Each night my soul you would renew.
I’d feel God’s love and peace abound,
While you were safe in Sleepy Town.
I’d savor those most precious times
That I’d begin with nursery rhymes;
And then I’d share God’s Word, so dear,
While holding you void of all fear.
For I could feel our deep, pure love:
A Precious Gift from God Above.
Years later, when you were a man,
Beside your bed I’d sometimes stand
To pray and soothe your troubled brow;
To whisper words I still hear now,
As though it happened yesterday.
Then…death took all my joy away.
Where once was light, 'twas now a hole
Of darkness in my ravaged soul.
No longer did I feel the joy
That came through you, my Precious Boy.
No longer did I hope or care,
As my heart filled with black despair.
But then, one night amidst the dread,
I felt upon my burrowed head
A gentle hand. I feel it now.
It often soothes MY troubled brow.
I feel your love and comfort born
Amidst the darkness when I mourn.
Our roles are now reversed, my son.
YOU have become the Guarding One.
I feel your love, your joy, your peace;
I know your presence will not cease.
I know that on one future day,
He’ll use your hand to brush away
The tears of sorrow ever more,
When I walk through His Heaven’s Door,
And join you in His Blessed Place
Where we will both live in His Grace.
I’m often tempted to wish for
A chance to have you here once more.
But that’s about MY pain and grief:
A Daddy’s wish to find relief,
And, once again, having the time
To let you choose the nursery rhyme;
To wipe away the slightest frown,
As you drift off to Sleepy Town.
But, that would also mean that you
Would be back here where you once knew
Such pain in your most loving heart,
That anguish broke and ripped apart.
It, too, would mean you’d be the lad,
And I would be your Loving Dad.
What we have now is more alive
Than human hearts can dare contrive.
Our bond will now forever last.
I’ll one day soon forget the past,
And marvel at what lies ahead.
Forever we’ll be free from dread.
A Universe of Peace above,
Forever in His Precious Love.
Until then, oft amidst my grief,
I feel your hand of sweet relief.
For now, your hand my brow has found,
As I drift off to Sleepy Town.
I’m now the child, you are the one
Who looks down on a Troubled Son.
We’ve made full circle, you and I.
We’ll someday meet up in the sky.
Until then, I remain so glad
I Had the Chance to Be Your Dad.
Copyright 2014, Joel Johnson
As Future "Poetic Tributes" are published on the "Poetic Tributes" page of the www.NCITI.org website, prior submissions may be archived, available on the "Free Documents & Resources" page. The first four poems are excerpts from "The Notes of Adam's Song...and Other Gifts for the Soul: A Surviving Parent's Journey Through the Valley of the Shadow of Death" (Available SOON via Amazon.com, Kindle.com, and this Website).