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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

My Tattered Face
Sweet Sally Sleeping

By Carl Martin Johnson

Will I still be wanted
When she sees my tattered face?
Will her mind instead be haunted
By the disfigurement in its place?

She adored my handsome chin.
To her I was a star.
Today the face she’ll see me in
Is monstrous and bizarre.

Yet my heart is still the same,
If hidden deep inside.
Though mirrors stare back in shame,
Dissolving all my pride.

Now she’s standing at my door
With sparkle in her eyes.
They say my beauty is no more,
But her love never dies.



By Carl Martin Johnson


Beneath these mounds rest well the brave
Who for us gave their lives.
Hopes and dreams in every grave
Yet their nation thrives.


It is up now to the living
To honor what they’ve done.
Was these men who did the giving.
We must treasure what they won.


So say a prayer tonight,
As you lie safely in your bed
For those who fought the fight,
Our sacred warrior dead.




By Carl Martin Johnson

All his friends had finished dying.
His wife was long years gone.
Sometimes he felt like crying.
Yet he carried on.

Home was an unpainted bench.
But it was a place to sleep.
Thanks to the old man’s stench,
It was his alone to keep.

This day the flags were waving.
He could hear the bugle play.
He shed the lone tear he was saving
For Memorial Day.

He would join his brothers soon.
He knew they’d saved a place,
Once again lead his platoon.
This time with God’s grace.

He was a warrior still inside,
As he’d been when young.
His heart still filled with pride
For the song his life had sung.



By Carl Martin Johnson

I stared into the soldier’s eyes.
I saw the killing there.
The fighter wore a man’s disguise,
But Death lurked in his stare.

I saw sprawled bodies of those he’d slain,
Rivers of blood he’d shed.
I gasped at the horror and the pain
On the faces of the dead.

I spied countryside laid waste,
Armageddon by his hand.
Fumes of annihilation I could taste
From the ruined, butchered land.

Then I reached for my reflection,
Touched the hard face on the glass.
Saw a man with Death’s complexion
Who had earned the Devil’s pass.

I would overcome death dealing
Though that fight be long and hard.
But I had lost man’s finer feeling
And my soul forever scarred.



By Carl Martin Johnson

If our leaders are too weak,
Then men like me will fight.
If a war is what you seek,
Then come and face our might.




By Carl Martin Johnson

Stand fast against the foe.
Do not let him win.
If we fight him, he will go,
And a better world begin.

Let not terror rule our lands.
Take up arms and fight.
With weapons or bare hands,
It is we who share God’s might.



By Carl Martin Johnson

Last night I looked up at the stars
As I walked the jungle trail.
I think that they are God’s memoirs,
Telling Creation’s tale.

I wondered how such beauty fine,
So delicate and pure,
Has led to weak souls such as mine
Who must kill others to endure.

In the light the bright stars shared,
A real love warmly streamed.
I could feel that Someone cared.
Into my heart love beamed.

As I marched ahead to kill,
I prayed no enemy I’d find.
For I no longer had the will
To harm others of my kind.



By Carl Martin Johnson

Soon my sun will set.
The final night will fall.
I hope I’ll not forget
My life…I loved it all.




By Carl Martin Johnson

I sit here in the silence
While it washes my soul clean,
Erasing all the violence,
All the blood my eyes have seen.

It rocks and softly holds me,
Soothes me with its calm.
Its gentleness enfolds me,
Consoles me with its balm.

Like a lover long awaited,
Its soundless arms embrace
Our union celebrated.
Our conjugation a state of grace.

I am engulfed by the tranquility.
My heart finds sought refuge.
A moment of fragility,
Still a respite from life’s deluge.

Keep me in blessed quiet,
‘Til I must war again.
Then once more I’ll face the riot
Of the world and its harsh din.




By Carl Martin Johnson

In my arms you breathed your last,
I held you like a son.
This life would soon be past,
Your mortal race be run.

You looked at me and smiled,
Though it was I who killed you.
We fought hard and wild,
But now God’s peace has filled you.

I wish I knew your name.
I would say it if I could.
Our combat had no shame,
Still, war is no damned good.

You lie here ‘gainst my chest
Midst all the dead and dying.
Both sides lose their best.
The truth is in the crying.

Your pain is over now.
Soon I will also fall.
Then I’ll find you I vow
In Valhalla’s warriors’ hall.



By Carl Martin Johnson

Hold me up, my brother.
Help me to survive.
Let us lean on one another,
And make it back alive.




By Carl Martin Johnson

Life tries hard to trick me.
It wants to keep me blind.
It is trying to restrict me.
It would like to rule my mind.

Life wants to have dominion.
Wants to be loved above all.
Afraid I’ll form another opinion
If I hear a more important call.

Life, you know I love you.
To me you’re very dear.
But there are things I hold above you.
For them your loss I cannot fear.

I will cast you aside
For my family or nation.
Just to keep you, I’ll not hide,
Or subject my soul to degradation.

I’ll keep your fire bright in my heart,
Unless your sacrifice is needed.
For a greater good we’ll part,
Because honor’s call was heeded.



By Carl Martin Johnson

Sweet Sally slept in silence,
Dreams of flowers in her head.
Far from war and violence.
Far from the torn and dead.

Peace came to her in dreams.
There she had no fear.
Sliding down moonbeams,
Bathed in starlight clear.

When her young eyes burnt with dawn,
The terrors would begin.
War and killing carried on..
Slaughter without end.

In sleep she was secure.
Horror could not intrude.
Dreams allowed her to endure,
Every demon to elude.

Her nights survived the day,
With the journeys she must take.
And in the dark she’d pray
That she would never wake.


By Carl Martin Johnson

I am folding back the dawn,
Retaking shelter in the night.
In the black my fear is gone.
I am ready for the fight.

The light can cost me dear.
Exposing secret places.
Means my death if I appear
Before I see enemy faces.

Like the Jaguar, I am stealthy.
No one sees me ‘til I strike.
Hunting me is not healthy.
In this jungle I’m ghostlike.

Pursue me if you can
Under this moonless sky.
But know here I’m more than man.
To find me is to die.




By Carl Martin Johnson

The jihadi stabbed me with his knife,
But struck my heart of steel.
For a man to take my life,
He must have a cause that’s real.




By Carl Martin Johnson

Sing to me of times long past,
Of days of strength in men.
Days when justice was true and fast.
May those days come again.

When we allow the weak to guide us,
When we adopt a coward’s ways,
No dark scoundrel’s cloud can hide us
From our Founders’ judging gaze.

Will we not stand proud?
Must we bend to whim?
If we citizens are cowed,
Our nation’s future will be grim.

Let none insult our soul.
We have reason to stand tall.
Proud of our worldly role,
We must not let our banner fall.




By Carl Martin Johnson

Seems they signed a declaration,
Our educated men.
Says we are now a nation,
That our future can begin.

To a simple man like me
It is a mighty plan.
No more colonist I’ll be.
I am American.

King George won’t let us go.
There’ll be a damned big fight.
Many will die, I know,
But we must do what’s right.

I best get to the farm.
I need to tell my wife.
Time has come for risking harm.
Time has come for risking life.

And though we be ordinary,
What we will do is great.
The burden we will carry
Will forever change Man’s fate.




By Carl Martin Johnson

Today I didn’t die,
Though people tried to kill me.
The Reaper passed close by.
That sure didn’t thrill me.

The round snapped past my ear.
It was a welcome sound.
It’s the bullet you don’t hear
That puts you in the ground.

So tonight I’ll have a beer,
Toast the enemy’s poor aim.
The end came very near,
But I’m still a player in Life’s game.




By Carl Martin Johnson

Life leaves no prisoners taken.
You fight or you will die.
Weak souls are soon forsaken.
There are no ears to a coward’s cry.




By Carl Martin Johnson

Sing to me of glory,
Of those who keep us free.
Tell me their fine story.
It means much to me.

Of what stuff are such men made?
Why braver than the rest?
Though they be afraid,
They stand up to the test.

From archangels they were bred,
Special men among the races.
As brothers they have spread.
Despite the colors of their faces.




By Carl Martin Johnson

Death is not my master,
Nor am I this life’s slave.
They chase, but I am faster.
Strike fear, but I am brave.




By Carl Martin Johnson

He carried trash and swept the floor,
He always did it well.
He didn’t mind the kids who swore
And teased him about his smell.

Sometimes he could remember days
Before he had been hurt,
When he had normal ways,
Not coated in grease and dirt.

The scar that split his head
Was from a wound cleared from his mind.
The painful thoughts had fled.
Forgetfulness was kind.

But at night before he slept,
He pulled a medal from his drawer.
A badge of valor that he kept
From an unremembered war.




By Carl Martin Johnson

There is no death in dying,
When death’s cause is just.
It is foolish to be crying,
For die we each one must.




By Carl Martin Johnson

Remember, I’m your brother.
I will help you if I can.
We are here for one another.
Part of God’s Great Plan.

Your troubles are mine, too.
Your burdens I will bear.
I am a rock for you.
Every wound I share.

You will never be alone.
I will guide you through the cloud.
Your heart is my own.
I sing our lovesong loud.

Now we go arm in arm.
No evil do we fear.
Nothing can do us harm
If we keep each other near.



By Carl Martin Johnson

I cannot be killed.
I am not flesh, but soul.
With the kind of Life I’m filled,
Only God and I control.



By Carl Martin Johnson

Come, ye war gods all!
There’s a man stands here.
You will not see me fall.
None of you I fear.

Wield your storm and lightning
Against my sword and shield.
I do not find you frightening.
You will not make me yield.

When this battle’s done,
It will not be I who ran.
You gods will not have won,
But I, this Viking Man.


Night Fighter
Warriors' Graves
The Old Veteran
The Jihadi Stabbed Me
Stand Proud
The Declaration
The Face Of War
If Our Leaders Are Too Weak
Stand Fast
Life Leaves No Prisoners Taken
Today I Didn't Die
God's Memoirs
Sing To Me Of Glory
The Last Battle
The Silence
Death Is Not My Master
There Is No Death In Dying
The Janitor
Dear Dying Enemy
I Will Help You
Jealous Life
My Ancestor's Taunt
I Cannot Be Killed
Hold Me Up, My Brother
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