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WAR SONG  - The poems on these pages are dedicated to the "song" of human combat. The honor, the bravery, the sacrifice.....and the horror, blood and death. It is neither a glorification nor a condemnation of war. It seeks to give some insight into one of the major occupations of Man from the very beginning of humanity.         -Carl Martin Johnson


© Carl Martin Johnson, All rights reserved

Voices in the quiet

By Carl Martin Johnson

Will I make the world a better place?
Will my life have worth?
Will I advance the human race?
Honor my mother’s pain of birth?

It is not enough to do no harm,
To timidly exist.
I must wield a sword with my strong arm
And fight evil with my fist.

Then when I die, let men recall
That I did all I could.
Life saw me rise, though I did fall,
And fought on the side of good.


By Carl Martin Johnson

I can see them in the treeline,
Rising up now our guns are still.
Soon my platoon’s fate will be mine.
Attack whistles are blowing shrill.

Fourteen of us have died this night.
It will be fifteen in a minute.
This will be my last fight.
I don’t think I’ll win it.

I will make a final kill.
At least I’m going to try.
Another human’s blood I’ll spill,
Before I fade and die.

Life is leaking out of me.
The enemy better hurry.
Sight is blurry, I can’t see.
Guess he doesn’t need to worry.


By Carl Martin Johnson

Day is not yet done.
Life is not yet ended.
There are battles to be won,
Lovers to be friended.

Yield never to despair.
Hope will not desert you.
With tears and joy in equal share,
Misfortune cannot hurt you.

Rise each time you fall.
No enemy can defeat you.
If you cannot walk, then crawl
To every challenge sent to meet you.

Remember, you are Man,
All Creation’s wonder.
What you dream you can.
You are Lightning, you are Thunder.



By Carl Martin Johnson

Death, I do not fear you.
You are only Heaven’s gate.
You are coming; I can hear you.
Do not hurry; I will wait



By Carl Martin Johnson

At midnight my ghosts come to me.
They surround me in my bed.
We’ve been friends so long, you see,
It matters not that they are dead.

We talk about so many things,
Angels’ envy, mortal strife,
New songs the Heavenly Chorus sings,
This and the after-life.

They are too polite to ask me why
It was they who died, not me.
Brave warriors do not fear to die,
It’s life that’s hard, you see.


By Carl Martin Johnson

Gently slip into the night.
It does no good to balk.
Surrender then without a fight.
No use in anxious talk.

The next life will be better still,
Though it be natural to fear.
Best face eternity with strong will,
And hold your courage dear.

Sing your lifesong clear and loud.
Leave this life with glory.
Let your last day on earth be proud,
So men will praise your story.


By Carl Martin Johnson

I will keep my honor whole.
That I will never lose.
Between my honor and my soul.
My honor I will choose.


By Carl Martin Johnson

Before the setting of the sun,
I will have my life complete.
All my battles will be won.
For this day won’t repeat.

Before the fall of night,
My mark will have been made.
No more chance to do things right.
It’s the end of the parade.

What time is left I will spend well.
When it’s over I’ll be through.
No more story left to tell.
I’ll have done all that I can do.



By Carl Martin Johnson

I found a letter on the trail,
No address, only a name.
The words had mostly faded pale.
I could read them just the same.

The soldier was called Joe.
At the bottom, she signed Jenny.
There was no way for me to know
Which Joe; there were so many.

She begged him to take care.
Without him she would die.
More than she could bear.
Just the thought could make her cry.

Then I saw the battle dead
A little farther down the track.
Was the letter I just read
From a Joe not going back?

There was no time to ask.
The enemy was nearby.
My hands full with the task
Of trying not to die.

But I kept the lovers’ note,
And offered up a prayer
That the soldier Jenny wrote
Didn’t pay war’s bloody fare.


By Carl Martin Johnson

I hear voices in the quiet,
But not with human ears.
I try, yet can’t deny it,
Nor overcome my fears.

They sing silent in the twilight,
Fleeing just before the dawn.
Spirits that deny light.
At sunrise they are gone.

They tell me secret things,
Rumors of beyond,
What the next life brings,
How the two worlds bond.

They are those dead before me
Asking why do I remain.
“Come with us,” they implore me.
“Come where there’s no pain.”

No - In this life I’ll stay,
And honor them by living,
Keeping the warrior’s way
In hope of their forgiving.


By Carl Martin Johnson

I will walk beside you,
Protect you in the night.
If you stumble, I will guide you.
Your dragons I will fight.

With me you’ll have no fear.
I’ll help you to be brave.
You’ll always have me near,
From now until the grave.

Put your trust in me.
I will never fail you.
Nor will I ever flee
Though demons may assail you.

Now, friend, let’s begin.
We will make this world our own.
Every battle we will win,
And you’ll never be alone.


By Carl Martin Johnson

There are but few who lead,
Who brave the enemy fire.
With no regard to their own need,
They are the heroes that inspire.

It is they who give their blood.
It is they who give their lives.
They who dam the tyrant’s flood,
So our great land survives.

Salute them when they pass.
Without them we’d be lost.
They are our warrior class.
They bear the battle’s cost.


By Carl Martin Johnson

Johnny-boy died well.
That’s what the letter said.
Still, in Heaven or in Hell,
My Johnny-boy was dead.

They said I should be proud.
Deep down I guess I was.
For now I’ll cry out loud,
Like every mother does.

Johnny-boy was my baby,
Too young to go to war.
I’ll stop hurting maybe,
But that day is very far.

What makes us humans fight?
Why must we always kill?
We know that it’s not right,
And yet we always will.

I have his medal on my wall.
That cannot replace him.
I must realize after all,
I will never again embrace him.


By Carl Martin Johnson

Somewhere in the night,
A sad soul cried in pain.
I could feel death’s looming bite,
And hear the life force drain.

It moaned a funeral dirge,
Begging surcease of sorrow.
Bereft of living’s urge
To see a new tomorrow.

Ears rang with the despair,
Sound of man by God deserted.
A desperate forlorn prayer
That anguish had perverted.

By dawn the wail had faded.
Thick silence flowed back in.
Life had been persuaded
To let eternity begin.


By Carl Martin Johnson

Brave men died in a far off land,
And none were there to mourn them.
It was not the end that they had planned,
Nor the mothers who had borne them.

Now they lie beneath a cross,
An ocean away from those who love them.
The brave dead are this life’s great loss,
But a gain to Heaven above them.


By Carl Martin Johnson

Life, give me your power.
Let me feel it surging.
My cowardice devour,
All my weakness purging.

I will brave you as a man,
The wind full on my face.
I will join the Warrior clan,
Giving no cause for disgrace.

Each day I will grow stronger
In my body and my soul,
Fearing Life no longer,
To conquer Death my goal.


Last fight
I will walk with you
You are lightning
Our Warriors
Death I do not fear you
Johnny-Boy died well
Midnight Ghosts
Slip gently into night
Sad soul crying
I will keep my honor whole
Death in a far land
Before the sun sets
Life Power
Letter on the trail
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