© Carl Martin Johnson, All rights reserved

 
 

CRY OUT LOUD
By Carl Martin Johnson

Cry loud for the gods to hear!
Let them know that you exist.
Show them you have no fear.
Raise high your strong clenched fist.

You suffer daily Life’s travails.
It is a struggle to survive.
You sail alone in Life’s gales.
You are driven to stay alive.

To slip peacefully into last sleep
Would leave the hardship and pain.
Nevermore cause to weep.
Simply by opening your vein.

Yet we humans will persist.
Eat Life day by day,
So our species will exist,
Our kind not fade away.

Deep inside we find a goal
That makes Life worth the fight.
Value to the human soul
That may give the gods a fright.

Perhaps we grow too like them.
They fear challenge to their rule.
Our upward evolution may strike them
As losing control of Man as tool.

Demand, then, their reply!
They must accept our growing.
Treat mankind as their ally,
Or risk their overthrowing.

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TODAY
By Carl Martin Johnson

Today I am alive.
Who knows what holds tomorrow?
Perhaps I shall survive,
Be it full of joy or sorrow.

The sun may shine full on my face,
Or I will feel the rain.
If I’m alive, by Heaven’s grace,
I may shout in pleasure or scream with pain.

Either way, I will be growing,
Coming nearer to Life’s “why”,
Struggling toward the knowing
Of Life’s reason before I die.

In moments of my soul’s clarity,
I glimpse the answer flitting by.
But such instance is a rarity
That I cannot hold, although I try.

Every day I seek the answer
And I am teased with bits of truth,
Each swirling past like an elusive dancer
Flirting with a love-struck youth.

I will sleep now, and if I wake,
I will accept what Life will give,
But I never will forsake
The search for why I live.

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BARABBAS
By Carl Martin Johnson

Barabbas is my name.
I have killed but now I’m free.
All men will know my fame.
It is my destiny.

Sharing my chains a man was there.
I am still unsure why.
What I heard did not seem fair,
And now they say that he will die.

I lead a rebel band.
We cut a purse at times.
They say I am scourge of the land.
True, I’m guilty of some crimes.

The judges set my execution.
I should be dead by now.
But I was granted absolution.
Yet, I cannot fathom how.

The other was not like me.
He looked tough, but gentle eyes.
I suppose he could be charged with insanity,
Talking how he’d die and then he’d rise.

So it was a true surprise to me
When the crowd, offered a choice,
Chose me as the one to be set free:
“Give us Barabbas” in one voice.

He’ll have a cross, I have amnesty.
I will go on to renown unforeseen.
But only when poets sing of me,
Will anyone mention that poor Nazarene.

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THE BREAK
By Carl Martin Johnson

All beginnings have an ending,
Skyrockets a final burst
Sometimes we waste the time we’re spending
On quenching passion’s thirst.

Love’s race for us is run.
We’ve tried the best we could,
But our affair is done,
And I fear it’s done for good.

Human love maintains the race.
Without it Man would die.
Still, the smile on a lover’s face
Can turn downward, make you cry.

Romance is not the only thing
In Creation that has worth.
Other things can make the heart sing,
In the heavens and on Earth.

There are sunsets to be painted,
Poems to be written
Life must not be tainted
Only because we are smitten.

So let us quit things here,
Before it is too late.
Best now to shed a tear
Than to watch love turn to hate.

In years coming we may find,
While gazing at blue sky,
That this cruel break was kind,
Though we were good once, you and I.

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THE SONG OF LIFE
By Carl Martin Johnson

I sing the song of Life today,
Its music fills my heart.
I hear it in the treetop sway
With the morning zephyr’s start.

I kiss the sun that warms my face,
The breeze that cools my chest.
I hold the earth in my embrace.
I touch the sky with fond caress.

My orchestra is the universe.
Its instruments the stars.
And when I chant a simple verse,
The comets are guitars.

I will ask mankind to dance,
To join me in my waltz.
Our happy whirling will enhance
The world, and smooth its faults.

Today all creation’s joy is mine.
All the cosmos hears my cheer.
I give my thanks to the Divine
For Life I hold so dear.

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THE ARENA
By Carl Martin Johnson

My right eye still has sight,
Though blood makes vision poor.
It has been a gallant fight,
If difficult to endure.

My opponent fought with grace.
But another day I might have won.
Still, as the last man I will face,
My honor’s glad he’s a valiant one.

That first blow that I gave him
Took his helmet and his ear.
Would have been no way to save him
Had he parried less well with his spear.

We went round and round forever,
Each gash caused the crowd to roar.
I grew too tired to fight clever.
We both weakened more and more.

It was hard this final minute,
Sword on sword, and sword on shield.
It looked like neither of us would win it.
I knew neither of us would yield.

His quick thrust took my left eye.
I came to death’s door very near.
The wound drew out of me a pained cry,
More of anger than of fear.

I fought hard, but I was draining,
Of energy as well as blood.
Every muscle in me straining
To keep from dying in this mud.

I’m on my knees and I look up.
His smile is farewell, not cruel.
He knows he’ll drink from this same cup
In some not-too-distant duel.

He is granting a moment’s grace
So I may ask the gods to greet me.
I recall my dead wife’s face.
It is she I ask to meet me.

Down flashes the warrior’s knife.
I am taking my last breath.
I have lived a gladiator’s life,
Now I die a gladiator’s death.

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SHE MOVES IN BEAUTY
By Carl Martin Johnson

She moves in beauty fair,
Wears her loveliness like a crown.
My eyes stroke her from toe to her hair,
Her silken skin like a goddess’ gown.

Over my easel I see her,
Eyes shining like precious stones.
All women would kill to be her,
Her figure sculpted perfectly over her bones.

The subject is too fine for my art,
Too divine for my poor brush to capture.
She is so much a species apart,
I am frozen in love-induced rapture.

I dare not declare myself to her.
I fear she would laugh in my face.
Only a god would be worthy to woo her,
Not a man of this low human race.

So I will worship secretly at Beauty’s altar.
I will keep my adoration within.
My devotion will never falter.
And love will be my only sin.

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OLD BLUE
By Carl Martin Johnson

I thought that he was sleeping.
He sleeps a lot these days.
It’s only old age creeping.
Keeps him in a kind of daze.

Old Blue was once a rover.
He ranged these hills at will.
His bay was heard all over.
Now the night’s too still.

He’d run alone or with a pack,
But he’d be in the lead.
You’d hear his voice on the track,
Until the ‘coon was treed.

Every morning he’d be home
To greet me in the dawn.
Then together we would roam,
‘Til the day was halfway gone.

He kept the bears away.
The wolves feared his deep growl.
They sought out easier prey
When Old Blue was on the prowl.

Big cats were rare, but you’d hear one scream
When game in the lowland was thin.
Then the cougar’s fangs came alive in your dream.
You lay awake in fear of his grin.

It was bad luck the lion found me
In the woods without my long gun.
No tall tree around me.
The cat too close for a run.

I knew I was going to die
In a manner I would not have chosen,
‘Til I heard Old Blue’s cry
That held the cat’s pounce frozen.

In an explosion of blood and dirt,
The angry animals collided.
They both were grievously hurt.
Yet the victor remained undecided.

Then Blue grabbed the cat’s throat,
Shaking him hard in his jaws.
The cat hissed out a desperate note,
And raked Blue’s underside with his claws.

The lion broke free…limped away.
Blue rose to pursue, undaunted.
But his bloodied legs gave way.
He could not move to the fight he still wanted.

He had risked his own life for mine.
What friend could ever do more?
He had spirit, noble and fine,
Virtues all humans hope for.

There he lies with scars long and deep.
Now I see this sleep’s his last.
I am strong, but tonight I will weep,
Asking God to hold Old Blue fast.

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THE WOLVES CAME WHISPERING
By Carl Martin Johnson

The wolves came whispering in the night.
I could hear them in the trees.
But I did not fear their bite,
Nor tremble with unease.

I sensed that they had trailed me,
Though I was not to be their feast.
Seems they knew my heart had failed me
Had turned from man to beast.

The genes we once had shared
Still rumbled in my blood.
And my wolf brothers cared.
I felt they understood.

Primal urges overcame me
When I fought my battle last.
The wolves were there to tame me
Before the die was cast.

The wolf pack took me into its mind.
It was red in tooth and claw.
They held me there so I would find
Wisdom in what I saw.

I learned how far mankind had grown
Since we ran in the pack.
Now the choice was all our own,
To press onward or fall back.

While man’s wars drip blood and gore,
They must be fought with rules.
Or we revert to beasts of yore,
Annihilation’s tools.

The wolf pack was proud of man,
Man was evolution’s peak.
He was becoming what life can.
Into the godhead we all seek.

Then the wolves gave warning.
Life abhorred man slipping back.
If a beastly man were borning,
He would be reclaimed by the pack.

So, if man must make war,
Let us do it as we cry,
Or the day will not be far
When we see our species die.

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SCARS
By Carl Martin Johnson

Beneath the paint was a youthful face,
Until you looked into his eyes.
His gaze reached out far into space,
Like a man just before he dies.

He walked point for the patrol,
The three others, flanked and rear,
Looked to him for ops control,
Should the enemy appear.

If he had fear, it did not show.
He never charged, but never ran.
He’d seen more death than a man should know
In a his life’s twenty-one year span.

The rifle he carried was scratched but oiled.
It was his loyal and best friend.
The tiger stripes he wore were soiled,
But they would last ‘til mission’s end.

He cut off the trail, knelt in the grass,
Held up his fist for halt.
He saw an enemy unit that would pass.
He would ambush and call air assault.

In silence, he signaled the others to spread.
They lay prone and checked their guns.
Within minutes there would be dead,
And they did not want to be the ones.

He called in Fire Mission Delay.
He would begin the fire when right.
With his headband he wiped the sweat away,
And nerved himself for the fight.

His eyes closed for an instant, no more.
He allowed a sweet brief dream.
Pictures of his life held in memory’s store.
Should this day be the end of his life’s stream.

Seconds from now he would kill again.
Perhaps he would die too.
Seemed this was how life had always been.
Was it all he would ever do?

His fingers felt the scar across his chest.
He was lucky, he knew, to be whole.
His body’s wounds healed with time and rest.
But the scars ran too deep on his soul.

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THE SERPENT’S TOOTH
By Carl Martin Johnson

The dragon stalked the garden.
It was there he would find his prey.
If he could stay hidden from the Warden,
Who loved those dolls of clay.

He slid, scaly, through the undergrowth,
Concealed until the strike.
If he chose well, one bite would do for both,
Should wise his fangs be to spike.

He would take the first to come along.
Both were equally naïve.
They ruled here but did not belong.
He would grant them no reprieve.

They were made, or so he had heard,
In the image of the Maker.
But he found the idea absurd,
He, Satan, was the Great Faker!

Outside they were like an ape,
Albeit less hairy than most.
Still, the same awkward shape.
Any similarity must be in the ghost.

The serpent knew that, inside,
Where lived that which in truth mattered,
Was where his poison must be applied,
For their godliness to be shattered.

So he chose a scented fruit,
Hanging low upon a tree.
Knowing they would not be so astute,
As to suspect conspiracy.

He sank his fangs in deep
So his venom would saturate,
And into their souls seep,
If of the fruit they ate.

When he pulled back the apple held him.
With all his strength he strained,
And when at last he came unweld,
One of his sharp tusks remained.

The dragon hissed an angry scream,
Watching the infection reverse its flow.
This was not the serpent’s dream.
Half the toxin was a dose too low.

Now, Man, were the fruit tasted,
Could fight to save his soul.
Would Satan’s plan be wasted,
With this loss of complete control?

Too late now to try again.
Someone was coming down the trail.
He would have to leave this original sin,
And pray Man was too weak for it to fail.

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WEST WIND
By Carl Martin Johnson

Kiss me, warm wind from the West.
Let me feel you on my face.
Of the four winds I love you the best.
I’m most alive in your embrace.

You carry vivid dreams
Of places far away.
Excitingly dangerous schemes
That I can barely hold at bay.

Roaring symphony over mountaintops,
Singing softly across the plains.
Your rousing music never stops.
My heart dances to your refrains.

Life’s raw musk perfumes your breezes.
Sweet aroma I breathe deep.
No less than mortal risk appeases,
Sowing seeds I will later reap.

Wrap ‘round me, howling mistress mine.
Take me to your breast.
With your tempestuous charms divine
Sweep me up to infinity’s crest.


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