top of page

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

The Sniper
The Life Spark's Dimming

By Carl Martin Johnson

He focused well his mind,
While he still had some life spark,
On what he’d leave behind,
Before the light went dark.

The enemy’d aimed well.
The bullet snapped his spine.
He’d soon face Heaven or Hell,
That line for him was fine.

But he had this moment now.
He had not yet died.
Yet his memory failed somehow,
No matter how he tried.

So he filled his eyes with sky,
And let his vision fade.
It was good, he thought, to die
Soul full of beauty that God made.




By Carl Martin Johnson


Night’s icy fingers grazed my face
Like the touch of ghosts long dead,
Squeezed my heart in chilled embrace,
Held me fast with dread.


Stars speared through the pitch-dark sky,
Pricking my eyes with their sharp light.
In my mind I heard them cry,
Near driving me to flight.


Yet I waited still,
Denying my fear rule.
Though it tested hard my will,
I’d not run, a cowardly fool.


At last I heard the sound,
Careful footfalls on the track.
What I’d waited for I’d found
Coming to me through the black.


Soon battle would begin.
It would be a bloody fight.
Chances I’d survive were thin.
But I feared more the night.




By Carl Martin Johnson


I am tired and I am lonely.
I need a woman in my arms.
She needs not love me only.
I just want to share her charms.


For a moment I’ll forget
With a woman who is willing,
That I owe death a debt,
And all the blood and killing.


I won’t recall her face
The minute that she’s gone.
But I’ll treasure her embrace
In some shell-bursting dawn.


Her warm body’s all I’m after,
With a little faked romance,
Mixed with bawdy laughter,
And some soul-restoring dance.


So come, my short-time lover,
Let us in sweet lust play.
Help me, please, recover,
To fight another day.




By Carl Martin Johnson

I took the path where honor led
When I was in my youth.
Could have found a safer one instead,
But mine was the route to truth.

It may seem that my loss is deep.
Many joys of life I’ve missed.
There are no sunsets where I sleep.
There are girls I have not kissed.

I departed early in my years.
Too soon my debt was due.
No need, friend, to cry more tears.
Who dies once is through.

Had I walked with cautious tread,
I’d have lived a longer span.
Yet sacred honor would have been shed.
I’d have been a lesser man.

Now my body’s in the ground.
My soul is in the sky.
With his honor, I have found,
Is how a man should die.




By Carl Martin Johnson

His eyes fixed on mine
He did not stop...he could not.
He was young...fruit not long on the vine.
He had only one chance...only one shot.

We were close...not lovers...much more
Loves of our past lives all forgot
Only that one of us would
Find the door to eternity....
And, eyes cold, passion hot,
We fired.

He died...I live...
Until next time...he will guard me
He will watch 'til I give
What he has already done,
In what will be, now I see,
A battle that cannot be won.




By Carl Martin Johnson

Bleed your light on me, Blood Moon.
Illuminate my sin.
Dry dirt will be mud soon,
Where shredded enemy have been.

The earth shadows you with shame,
So your light be dimmed and red,
To hide from God my blame
For the men I’ll have left dead.

Here in this crimson night
Mangled corpses will rot and swell,
As the Devil cheers the fight
And shepherds the victors home to hell.



By Carl Martin Johnson

Sometimes he could hear the blast,
See his legs where they lay torn.
But done was done and in the past.
It did no good to mourn.

His woman had moved on.
He did not resent it.
The love she’d felt was gone.
Her constant care had spent it.

Now the days were hard,
Though he let no one know.
He hid that his soul was scarred.
Never let the darkness show.

He looked out over the sea,
Not letting himself ask why.
In his dreams he still ran free.
And one day he would fly.




By Carl Martin Johnson


It was the needle got him.
The tiny hole in his arm.
He survived when the enemy shot him.
It was the poppy did him harm.


Not on a jungle trail,
But on a city street.
He felt his life force fail.
He heard Death’s slow drumbeat.


The poison in his veins,
Fueled his trip to Hell.
His soul and body pains
Stopped with the man’s death knell.


It was the needle did him in,
Not the bayonet.
People will condemn the soldier’s sin.
His valor they’ll forget.




By Carl Martin Johnson

Bid farewell to kindness.
The time has come for war.
Our leaders, through their blindness,
Have let matters go too far.

We face a barbaric foe.
No honor to their cause.
By their atrocities they show,
They have contempt for God’s own laws.

It is up to us to fight them.
No quarter to be given.
With sharp knives we will smite them.
From the world they must be driven.

It is becoming late.
The cancer is in our midst.
Shall we meekly accept our fate,
And by slavery be kissed?

We must rise up for battle,
Though our leader be very weak.
Or be slaughtered as servile cattle,
Giving the enemy what they seek.

Countrymen, attack!
No matter we charge alone.
Let us take civilization back,
We fight for freedom’s throne.




By Carl Martin Johnson


Cease fire!
The battle’s done.
We have won.


Come tomorrow we fight again.
Lest the enemy grow stronger.
Pray God, once more we win.
That our people may live longer.


But tonight we will rest well,
Bind the wounds of those who bleed,
Bury the brothers who bravely fell,
And nurture valor’s seed.



By Carl Martin Johnson

I can clearly see your face
In the crosshairs of my scope.
I cannot offer grace.
I cannot hold out hope.

I stare at your watchful eye,
The twitch pulling at your cheek.
You are about to die,
Though that’s not what I seek.

You scan the treeline for me
And others from my side.
I am hard for you to see.
In this jungle I well hide.

The sweat falls from your brow.
This place is goddamned hot.
Yes, you are drinking now.
I’ll hold off on my shot.

What’s that in your hand?
A photo, I believe.
If my bullet goes where planned,
At least you will be grieved.

Is it your wife and child?
What will they do when you are dead?
I almost hope my aim goes wild,
Or the slug will split your head.

The sun is nearly set.
I must do it soon.
So quickly I regret.
But there may not be a moon.

On a day to come
Could be my profile in the sight.
Then I’ll hear the bullet hum
That sends me into night.

We are brothers, you and I.
Bastard sons of war.
Under the same earth we’ll both lie
Before time travels very far.

But I will not kill tonight,
From hiding dealing death.
Tomorrow we will fight,
Face to face, to the last breath.




By Carl Martin Johnson

When I found him he was dying.
He lay bleeding in the dirt.
I saw that he’d been crying,
But not from his body’s hurt.

He was wounded gravely.
Even so he forced a smile.
He was facing his fate bravely,
Leaving life in manly style.

Jacket and tags were blown away,
So I couldn’t read his name.
He motioned me to stay.
He seemed relieved I came.

“In a minute I’ll be dead,”
He spat through bubbling blood.
“I’ve got something must be said.”
He rose up in the mud.

“The enemy that’s killed me
Is lying over there.
I’m done with the hate that filled me.
Poor bastard fought me fair.”

“I wish I wasn’t going,
But I’m a soldier too.
It’s a thing soldiers are knowing.
But don’t think it will come true.”

“You know, it’s not the leaving,
That makes me feel so sad.
It’s that no one will be grieving.
I got no family, never had.”

His eyes closed for a second.
I stood to let him go.
Then he looked up and beckoned.
I knelt and he whispered low.

“I won’t cross nobody’s mind.
Won’t be no one at my grave.
So, if you’d be so kind,
There’s a favor that I crave.”

“Look at me quick again.
I’m goin’ fast I know you see.
I am a man who once has been.
Please…..Remember me.”

And I do.




By Carl Martin Johnson

Months ago I saw him leave,
A handsome boy, and strong.
Sergeant stripes proud on his sleeve.
He’d have more ‘fore long.

He was ready for the fight.
Brave, as young men are.
He believed the cause was right.
But he had not yet seen war.

Well and hard he fought.
He saw blood and death.
He found freedom must be bought,
Sometimes with a man’s last breath.

He almost made it through.
Harm came close but missed him.
So when the explosive blew,
He thought the devil’d kissed him.

Now he moves on wheels.
Parts of him aren’t there.
I wonder how he feels,
Always sitting in that chair.

Inside he must stand high.
His soul a warrior’s still.
They could not make that die.
The warrior pride they could not kill.




By Carl Martin Johnson


If I looked into your heart, dear friend,
Would I find you much like me?
Waiting fearfully for the end,
In need of sympathy?


Would I see a hunger for the truth?
For answers to Man’s quest?
A dread of losing youth?
A soul in need of rest?


How different are we, brother?
Deep down are we the same?
Intertwined with one another
From the Soul whence we both came?


If I looked into your eyes,
I’m not certain what I’d see.
It would come as no surprise
If I were looking back at me.




By Carl Martin Johnson


His woman had to feed him.
The blast had left him armless.
He knew she didn’t need him.
He was useless. He was harmless.


For his torments he placed no blame.
His honor had been kept.
He’d fought well and without shame.
Still, late at night he wept.


His wounds were getting worse.
His body was not healing.
Now living was a curse.
Only death would stop this feeling.


He was growing weak.
Tonight would be the end.
He’d find the peace he’d seek.
Death was coming as a friend.


And he saw his soul’s arms clear,
Though his body’s were declawed.
He shed a happy tear,
As he touched the face of God.




By Carl Martin Johnson


I am a Veteran of every war
My country has ever fought.
In battles near and far,
I’ve seen freedom dearly bought.


I gladly shed my blood
So my countrymen might live.
In hot desert and jungle mud,
I gave all I had to give.


I’ve killed many men,
Though I found that very hard.
I would do it all again,
In defense of those I guard.


I die, but then I rise.
Death for me holds no fear.
Wherever my flag flies,
That place will I hold dear.


In harm’s way I stand.
Evil men I will defeat.
On the sea, in air, on land
American Warriors do not retreat.




By Carl Martin Johnson

If you cut me, I will bleed.
Yet I am hard to kill.
In this fight, you’d best succeed,
Or you, I swear, I will.




By Carl Martin Johnson

I saw you in the shadowed light,
Pressed hard against the wall.
As I approached you ran in fright,
Although you heard me call.

Is what we had so hard to bear?
Was our coupling somehow vile?
I have been searching everywhere,
Only now do I see your smile.

You tore yourself hard from me.
I never wanted us to part.
I felt great pain overcome me
As you ripped in two my heart.

O Courage, don’t desert me!
Return and make me brave.
With you nothing can hurt me.
Save me from a coward’s grave.


A Woman In My Arms
Remember Me
Wounded Warrior
But For The Grace
I Saw Him
Blood Moon
If I Looked Into Your Heart
The Crippled Warrior
The Needle
American Veteran
Farewell To Kindness
To My Enemy
Cease Fire!
In The Shadowed Light
bottom of page