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Our Nation's Quest
A Soldier's Last Minute

© Carl Martin Johnson, All rights reserved

By Carl Martin Johnson

I see them coming through the mist.
It won’t be too long now.
Could be soon I won’t exist,
This might be my final bow.

But this minute I’m alive.
I am this minute’s king.
Until I die I will survive,
And rule what life will bring.

There is no future and no past.
This instant stands apart.
I know full well it will not last,
Yet strong still beats my heart.

Am I taking my last breath?
I will taste it then, so sweet.
I will have no fear of death,
This moment is life complete.

Die I will, since die I must,
Yet I will never know.
I will not betray my trust.
I will like a soldier go.

Still, I alone rule this last minute.
I will make each second mine.
I own this time and all that’s in it,
‘Til I meet the true Divine.


By Carl Martin Johnson

One man who will fight.
One man who is proud.
Can defeat the great mob’s might.
Can make his lone voice loud.

Apart from the herd he stands,
Holding his head up high.
Honor alone commands,
He looks all Mankind in the eye.

He endures, defiant,
Though he endure alone.
He will not bend, compliant,
Though no support be shown.

We should treasure men like these.
They are, God help us, rare.
Such men don’t bend their knees.
Our great nation’s in their care.




By Carl Martin Johnson


There are thoughts I cannot rhyme.

My limitations are severe.

I must hear the word tones chime,

To ring music in my ear.


Yet I have feelings that run deep,

Far beyond my wordsmith’s skill.

It causes me to weep,

That I lack talent to match my will.


But some nights when I dream,

I find words that can’t be said,

In a whisper or a scream,

Save by poets long, long dead.


In my soul they incubate

Until at last my pen can bear them.

For their birth I must await

The verses where I share them.





By Carl Martin Johnson


Rear back your head and laugh

Every morning ‘til you die.

You will cut your fears in half,

And with only laughter cry.



By Carl Martin Johnson

I am only me.
I can be no other.
I am mostly what you see,
Dropped entire from my mother.

Many times I fail.
My weakness brings me shame.
My character is frail.
I’ve only me to blame.

But every day I learn.
My soul keeps getting stronger.
Perhaps wisdom I will earn,
If I live a little longer.


By Carl Martin Johnson

His eyes were growing dim,
Like a candle burning low.
I knew the odds were grim,
His pulse was weak and slow.

I’d stopped the wound’s red spurting.
But too much had been lost.
At least he was past hurting.
Close to paying this life’s cost.

His rifle he held tight.
It made him feel secure,
Though he had fought in his last fight.
He was going, I was sure.

I cradled him like a child.
Yet I, not he, was crying.
If he had fear, it was only mild.
It was I who felt his dying.

Then I heard medevac whopping air.
I begged him to hold on.
But my brother was past care.
He smiled, then he was gone.


By Carl Martin Johnson

I’ve see the dawn on battlefields
Where men lay dead and dying,
Pale light sharing what hatred yields,
What sends God’s angels crying.

Then the growing sun climbs high,
Lighting corpses in death dance,
The sad ballet of those who die,
In macabre smiling trance.

I recall through tears what the ancient said,
And is still the way things are.
No good to weep, for “Only the dead
Have seen the end of war.”


By Carl Martin Johnson

If you speak, I will give ear,
Though I may disagree.
What you see as clear,
May not be to me.

We are compatriots, after all.
The same flag we salute.
Let not anger build a wall
Because of words that we dispute.

Perhaps we both will learn,
If our ideas we share.
And mutual respect we’ll earn
As we our thoughts compare.


By Carl Martin Johnson

Last night I lay awake in bed
And watched the spirits fly.
They were very friendly dead,
Though some, indeed, were shy.

I asked if I could join their play.
It seemed to be great fun.
They said I surely will one day,
When at last my race is run.

For now, they said, I should just dream.
In dreams is where they’ll meet me.
Sliding down a soft moonbeam,
With angel’s kiss they’ll greet me.


By Carl Martin Johnson

This dagger in my hand
Will end good Caesar’s life.
Rome’s history I command
With this assassin’s knife.

My accomplices struck deep,
And still my Caesar lives.
I must thrust, though now I weep.
My crime no heart forgives.

He tears my soul with dying plea
As I wield the murderous blade.
Too late my act to flee,
Or stay the sin I made.

As he lies bloody at my feet,
I bend to cover his pale face,
For soon enough we’ll meet
In the next world’s cold embrace.

Yet though I do this crime,
Full aware of the great shame,
Until the end of time
All men will know my name.


By Carl Martin Johnson

Death’s angel gives no warning,
Save soft rustling of his wings.
And he leaves loved ones in mourning
From the message that he brings.

His breath is angel-sweet,
Like spring flowers in the dawn.
Perfume of life complete,
Blowing gently as the soul flows on.

Carrying beauty with his fear,
His kiss gives us new life.
A brief moment then we’re clear,
Free from this world’s strife.

So dread not his embrace.
He comes for everyone.
Look once upon his face,
Just once and you are done.


By Carl Martin Johnson

If I grow weary, spur me on.
Do not let me falter.
We are close to seeing dawn,
Our course we dare not alter.

Freedom is a heavy weight,
But one we gladly bear.
What the Fathers wrought is great.
Now we must do our share.

Life with liberty is our goal.
No despot will impede us.
We have the American warrior soul.
From the strongest stock they breed us.

The duty is both yours and mine.
We cannot stop to rest
With continued help from the Divine,
We’ll fulfill our nation’s quest.


By Carl Martin Johnson

He favored slightly his front paw,
Yet with a good stride for his years.
His limp the first thing I saw,
Though I was not moved to tears.

I assumed he’d lost his owner
In the ravage of the storm,
Because he did not seem a loner
Nor expect from humans harm.

The dog was hungry I could see,
But he was loathe to beg.
He was spurning sympathy,
Despite the wounded leg.

He was worn but not defeated,
Great dignity in his bearing
Proud but not conceited,
Not his fate despairing.

I tossed my sandwich near him.
It was all I had to share.
I had no cause to fear him,
Only worried I would scare.

His eyes lifted to find the donor.
I saw expectation dim.
Seeing I was not his owner.
Wishing I was him.

He took my charity with grace,
Without asking me for more.
Returned to sniffing for a trace
Of the owner he searched for.


By Carl Martin Johnson

The world is changed by every birth,
And will never be the same.
A new life carries its own worth,
Whether causing pride or shame.

A new babe’s cry is an angel’s sign
That mankind keeps on growing.
An acknowledgement from the Divine
That we are closer to the Knowing.


By Carl Martin Johnson

Hurt my people and I’ll come for you.
There’s no place for you to hide.
Insult my heritage and your life is through
Before you know that you have died.

I come from men of valor.
Honor is in my very blood.
Only by those with souls of pallor
Can we not be understood.

Warriors respect each other,
If the men they face be brave.
An enemy of honor is your brother,
Though he put you in the grave.

If my forebears you defame,
I am an antagonist you’ll regret.
You will drown in cowardly shame.
I will not forget.


By Carl Martin Johnson

The fog is rolling in real slow,
All down the mountainsides.
I feel my fear begin to grow,
‘Cause that’s where Charlie hides.

I’m sure he’ll come again tonight.
Must be a regiment out there.
Our orders are to stay and fight,
So I’m not going anywhere.

No medevacs can come,
No choppers to resupply.
Our outlook might be glum.
That don’t mean we won’t try.

Battalion says they’ll send relief,
If we can hold ‘til dawn.
But I feel we will come to grief.
By light we might be gone.

Nothing to do but shoot and pray,
Long as I’ve got a breath.
Maybe I’ll live to see the day.
Maybe I’ll cheat death.


By Carl Martin Johnson

Long ago I took a turning.
My soul thirsting for a change.
I followed youthful yearning,
Strong heart for adventure burning.
Now the road seems strange.

If a different choice I’d made,
Who would I be today?
Have I from the true path strayed?
Shall I press on unafraid,
Confident in my way?

Too late. The die is cast.
Who I am and who I’ll be.
I can’t undo decisions past.
Each point in time must last
Throughout eternity.


By Carl Martin Johnson

I am blessed with this new day.
There may not come another.
No moment can ever stay,
Only serve as the next one’s mother.

This day I’ll make a smile,
Do a small kind deed.
I’ll sit with a friend a while,
Give alms to one in need.

And tonight before I sleep,
I’ll give thanks for time well spent.
No cause I’ll have to weep.
My eyes will close content.


By Carl Martin Johnson

I am all Mankind’s brother.
We sprang from the same seed.
We must cherish one another,
And help in times of need.

As a species we evolve.
Together we advance.
United in resolve.
Partners in Life’s dance.

Combined our souls will learn
To reach out far beyond us.
One day we will return
Back to the Soul that spawned us.


By Carl Martin Johnson

The jungle wraps around me,
A lover’s arms in black velvet night.
Lovely guardian who has found me
To shield me briefly from the fight.

Her night birds give me warning
By silencing their cries.
She wakes me in the morning
As her darkness slowly dies.

Then she bids me move again,
Warrior mother to her son.
There are battles I must win,
So that the war be won.


By Carl Martin Johnson

What did I glimpse inside me?
The spark that I just saw?
The sight is now denied me,
But its flash filled me with awe.

It seemed part of me yet not.
Almost another being.
The power I’ve not got
To enable me full seeing.

Yet its presence I can feel.
I can even sense it growing.
I believe that it is real,
And guiding me to the Knowing.

Perhaps a sperm from Divine Soul
Which gave birth to my own,
Seeking only to extol
That creature it has sown.

By Carl Martin Johnson

Reach out and touch your brother.
Give your sister a caress.
Be good to one another.
Show each other tenderness.

Those you pass briefly on the street
Have souls much like your own.
Share a smile, though you not meet.
Give joy with the kindness shown.

Show compassion to mankind,
For this life is a common prayer.
In the end, perhaps we’ll find
In the same Great Soul we share.

The Lame Dog
One Man
Thoughts I Cannot Rhyme
Every birth
To The Enemies Of My People
Morning Laughter
I Am Me
Where Charlie Hides
Death Of A Brother In My Arms
The Turning
Dawn After Battle
A Day Well Spent
Speak Freely
Mankind Brothers
Night Ghosts At Play
The Jungle Night
Et Tu, Brute?
Piece Of God's Soul
Death's Angel
Reach Out

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