John “Liver Eating” Johnson



After the trek from Missouri ta’ Montana,

John Johnson made a name fer’ himself

as both sheriff an’ mountain man.

He took ta’ the hills an’ set his traps;

beaver, deer, bear, an’ buffalo,

all sayin’ “Catch me if ya’ can.”

He loved the life,

even took an Indian wife,

who bore him a healthy child.

But while Johnson was away from home

a band of Crow came callin’,

an’ did things that would make him riled.

They didn’t just take what they wanted,

they killed what was left in the end.

So when Johnson came back,

an’ saw the aftermath of the attack,

he emotionally went over the bend.

He stayed there alone,

warmed by the hate

that countered the cold of his heart.

His private war had begun,

an’ many would fall,

the Crow would pay dearly for their part.

Whenever a Crow came into his sight

it was like steppin’ into a killin’ zone.

Whether man-ta’-man,

or even outnumbered,

Johnson’s skill fer’ killin’ had been honed.

With rifle or knife,

hatchet or rock,

anything at all could be used.

He would never see a human

when he looked at a Crow,

on account of how his wife had been abused.

He saw only animals,

an’ animals were his trade;

ta’ be caught, ta’ be killed, ta’ be eaten.

He even acquired the strange moniker

of “Liver-Eating Johnson”

after a witness saw him kill ‘um, cut ‘um,

an’ then sink his teeth in.

Score upon score of Crow bit the dust,

for ten years his hate found its foe.

Then down from the mountain

ta’ carry a star,

Johnson did finally go.

He put on the badge in Coulson, Montana,

an’ he ruled with a rifle an’ fist.

He never did carry a six-gun,

an’ never started a “Dead Man’s” list.

With his mountain exploits

an’ peculiar peacekeeping,

even Buffalo Bill tried ta’ hire him fer’ shows.

But Johnson had tired of civilized life,

an’ took off ta’ where nobody knows.

He had no need fer’ fame,

but his legend still grew,

even faster after he up an’ disappeared.

“What a crock,” he must think,

 of his legend nowadays,

it would be funny if he suddenly appeared.

His name has been changed,

an’ facts rearranged,

all fer’ the sake of a film.

Just remember what he ate,

after he began ta’ hate,

an’ he stuck in his knife ta’ the helm.



© JW Thomas


10 thoughts on “John “Liver Eating” Johnson

  1. Mary Cathleen Clark August 15, 2016 / 3:45 am

    So this is the inspiration for Jeremiah Johnson, the movie…guess Hollywood thought “liver eating” might turn off potential ticker buyers. I like your poem, JW, it has a touch of humor mixed in with fact, told in a sing-song, whimsical style.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jwtatfbc August 15, 2016 / 3:48 am

      Maybe back then when Redford played him, my friend. Considering what they allow to be eaten even on TV now, I’m sure there will be a darker remake in the future.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mary Cathleen Clark August 15, 2016 / 3:52 am

        Yes, eating a liver is small stuff compared to what goes on now, both in the movies and TV. Just look at The Walking Dead…something human is getting munched on every few episodes. A remake would be interesting…

        Liked by 1 person

      • jwtatfbc August 15, 2016 / 3:55 am

        Not very nutritious, but it brings in the viewers. And a remake would be interesting if they found the right actor. And they’re bringing back remakes of others again. It seems to go in cycles.


      • Mary Cathleen Clark August 15, 2016 / 4:00 am

        Mathew McConaughey…he does dark very well. I could see him going crazy and eating liver. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • jwtatfbc August 15, 2016 / 4:02 am

        Yeah, I just watched him in Reign of Fire recently. He could definitely pull it off.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Mary Cathleen Clark August 15, 2016 / 4:09 am

        He’s playing The Man in Black in the upcoming film adaption of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. I figure he’ll do a good job.
        You must have an inquisitive nature, judging from the wide variety of subject matter in your writings. A well-read man…I like that. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • jwtatfbc August 15, 2016 / 4:12 am

        I don’t know about well-read, but I’ve definitely consumed my share… haha

        And I’m sure he will.

        Liked by 1 person

      • jwtatfbc August 15, 2016 / 4:16 am

        Good night and sweet dreams to you, Pretty Lady.

        Liked by 1 person

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