National Crisis Intervention Training Institute, Inc.

poetic tributes

Dedicated to Sara Maisano and Her Family


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 


flying without a net

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)


Dedicated to my fellow surviving parents, haunted by regret

Of Roses Red and Sweet Wine Days

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 




Dedicated to my precious son, Adam

I Had the Chance to Be Your Dad

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


...Special Note...

 As Future "Poetic Tributes" are published on the "Poetic Tributes" page of the 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,, and this Website).