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

 
 

BELLS
By Carl Martin Johnson

One bell rings to wake us,
Two to greet the dawn.
The third bell tolls to make us
Take up arms and carry on.

The fight will never end,
If free people we would be.
And the warning the bells send
Is a call to you and me.

 

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THE CHILD’S HAND
(To the Murdered Children of Manchester)
By Carl Martin Johnson

Graceful beauty in the fingers,
A bit of dirt in tiny nails.
Joyous play yet lingers.
He who tries composure fails.

The hand once stroked a kitten,
Cupped a butterfly in its palm,
Kissed by Mommy when once bitten,
Held by Daddy ‘til it grew calm.

Snuck a cookie from the jar
When no one was around.
Pointed at a shooting star,
As the child gave a wondering sound.

Wrapped tight in a brother’s fist,
Feeling protected and secure.
Minutes ago it had been kissed,
With a sister’s love so pure.

Now it lay in rubble at my feet,
While I reached down with a prayer,
But the delicate hand was incomplete.
There was no body there.

Scattered ‘round were others,
Young bodies ripped and torn.
Someone’s sisters, someone’s brothers,
Giving too much shock to mourn.

Now hard vengeance do I swear
On they who did this sin.
Their lives I will not spare,
Nor let their evil win.

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TO THE TERRORIST
From Carl Martin Johnson

I see that you would kill us,
Or make of us your slave.
But watch our anger fill us.
We are tolerant but brave.

True, some of us are weak,
Will meekly wear your chains.
Base survival do they seek,
And will accept the “dhimmi”s pains.

Take them with you straight to Hell!
They are offal, nothing more.
Then listen close for Freedom’s bell.
It signals death for you in store.

Your creed says kill you must,
Or drop us to our knees.
You will know our sharp sword’s thrust
Before your evil we appease.

The day indeed has come
For civilizations’ clash.
We will beat the warrior’s drum
And turn your world to ash.

Begone forever from this earth,
You and your noxious creed.
Curse your mother for your birth.
You’ll be the one to bleed.

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RUN TOWARD THE CRACK OF GUNS
By Carl Martin Johnson

Run toward the crack of guns.
That is where honor lies.
Be among the few brave ones
Who lives before he dies.

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THE MAN IN THE PICTURE
By Carl Martin Johnson

There is a picture in my room
Of a man I never met.
Dead when I was in the womb,
So there’s nothing to forget.

But he made me who I am.
Many things I owe him.
That’s why I give a damn
I never got to know him.

He would have thrown the ball
I caught in my new glove.
He would have given all.
Showed me a father’s love.

I make up days we had,
Wishing they were true,
Saying “Thanks, my buddy, Dad!
You know that I love you.”

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IF WE MUST FIGHT
By Carl Martin Johnson

If we must fight, we cannot wait.
Our enemy grows stronger.
Strike now, or be too late.
Then the bloodshed will last longer.

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NEW SON
By Carl Martin Johnson

Rest gentle ‘gainst my chest, dear son.
Your world is just beginning.
Some battles for you I have won.
Soon you must do the winning.

God grant that you be strong.
You’ll need a manly heart
To sing your own lifesong,
Long after I depart

Always protect the weak.
Keep your homeland free.
Think long before you speak,
And then speak sparingly.

I’ll try hard to raise you well.
I’ll protect you when I can.
But let you your own wars quell,
Then you’ll become a Man.

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THE TYRANT
By Carl Martin Johnson
(For the people of Venezuela)

The tyrant crushes with fists of steel,
Slaying all who dare oppose him,
Grinding resistance beneath his heel,
But strong hearts will depose him.

Like a vampire he bleeds freedom dry,
Sucks the spirit from his nation.
The more he hears the people cry,
The more his celebration.

Sleep not easy, fascist brute.
We will not suffer meekly.
An evil tree bears bitter fruit.
We will not chew it weakly.

I swear, Tyrant, this is true:
Your countrymen are brave.
One day soon we’ll come for you.
We’ve already dug your grave.

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STAND FIRM
By Carl Martin Johnson

Stand firm against the howling wind.
Stand firm against the flood.
Your heart’s courage has no end.
In your veins flows warrior’s blood.

 

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THE KILLING FIELD
By Carl Martin Johnson

Death’s perfume traveled thick and far,
Spreading foretaste of the horror,
Wreaked by the cruel goddess of war
On the men who had died for her.

Through the night I moved with care,
Jungle silence the enemy’s warning.
Knowing the dark’s cloak would be threadbare
In the coming light of morning.

I pressed on toward the smell,
Afraid of what I’d find.
Was this a jungle where demons dwell,
Or was the stench from humankind?

I was the last of my patrol,
Stumbling bleeding and afraid.
Yet I would not release my soul.
I swore death would be delayed.

The jungle at last began to thin.
Moonlight filtered through the trees.
Far less concealment than had been.
My heart began to freeze.

The skyglow bathed the field ahead.
I dropped quickly to the ground.
To my front were only wordless dead,
In a still ballet profound.

Weapon ready, I rose slowly,
Wiping blood-sweat from my eyes,
In quiet absolute, unholy,
Save escaping spirits’ sighs.

Then, in milk-white tropic light,
A tattered foe clawed to his feet.
Though he had not been killed outright,
He was only shredded meat.

He did his best to lift his gun.
Mine was pointed straight.
While I had the duel won,
I was too tired to hate.

Our locked eyes could not turn away.
Bloody death made him my brother.
We might fight another day,
But we would not kill each other.

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OLD SCARS
By Carl Martin Johnson

Old scars tell my story,
Smoky barrooms, foreign wars.
All my shame and glory,
In the mural of my scars.
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 THE FALLEN WARRIOR
By Carl Martin Johnson

Toss dirt on my casket’s wood,
Say prayers over my bones,
Shed a few tears, as you should.
Play taps soft bugle tones.

Lower me into the earth.
I will not find it cold.
This was destined since my birth.
This my fate foretold.

Yet, remember why I’m here.
The act that was my last.
That sacrifice so dear
Redeemed all vices past.

For now and evermore,
I lie a hero in this grave.
Whatever eternity has in store,
This world will call me brave.

I could have lived a life unsung,
With no meaning, and no glory,
No bell of honor would be rung,
But I’ve been blessed with gallant story.

I was just a man
Who loved family and nation.
See my death, then, if you can,
Not with grief, but celebration.

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ON MY WAY TO WAR
By Carl Martin Johnson

I passed this way some time ago,
When on my way to war.
There was much I did not know.
I’d never traveled far.

Some boys were hard at baseball then,
Their parents cheering on.
I’d have loved to see them play again,
But the baseball fields were gone.

And all those fine kids would have grown.
Like me, maybe fought and died
In a distant, bloody war of their own.
Mankind could stop that if we tried.

 

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PRAYER TO MY ANGEL
By Carl Martin Johnson

Dear Angel, light my way.
Show me the path that’s right.
Tell me when I stray.
Be my ally in Life’s fight.

Give me courage when I war,
Wisdom to know when it is just,
Let not my violence rage too far
When unsheathe my sword I must.

Keep my honor true.
With God’s love fill my heart.
Each day bless me anew.
Nor from my side depart.

 

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A MAN'S VALOR TELLS HIS STORY
By Carl Martin Johnson

A man’s valor tells his story,
How he lived and how he died.
He must have found his glory,
At least he must have tried.

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GHENGIS
By Carl Martin Johnson

Do you see what I have done?
The land that I’ve laid waste?
Every battle I have won,
Killed every enemy I have faced.

All men know my name.
They tremble at my nearing.
Flee wildly without shame,
Such is their depth of fearing.

But tonight I saw a star,
A god’s eye burning bright.
High and very far,
Caring nothing for my might.

And I know it will be burning
Long after the day I fall.
In spite of all my yearning,
I am only mortal after all.

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AS HE DIED
By Carl Martin Johnson

I held him as he died.
He begged me not to leave.
I hurt badly when he cried.
I knew I would long grieve.

Then he stopped and raised his head,
Sightless eyes turned to the sky.
He knew he’d soon be dead,
But death’s terror he’d deny.

Wounded littered the killing ground,
Screaming souls too torn to aid.
Butchered flesh was scattered ‘round.
Warriors’ dues all paid.

But I could help just one,
Soothe one man’s dying pain,
Feel his mortal life undone,
As I watched his spirit drain.

His blind eyes could not see.
His burst ears could not hear.
But he held tight to me.
He sensed death’s sword was near.

It was my bullet laid him low.
I had put him in his grave.
He would never know.
But I knew that he died brave.

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SHALL I FIGHT?
By Carl Martin Johnson

Shall I curl safely in my bed
While the world outside’s aflame?
Was I a coward bred,
That I hide myself in shame?

Have I not dragons slain?
Wrongdoers put to flight?
I am the oppressor’s bane.
A man they fear to fight.

Should this time I fall,
It will be a warrior’s death,
And posterity will recall
That I took bravely my last breath.

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CAROLINAS FIGHTING
By Carl Martin Johnson

I fight in this damned swamp
‘Gainst the Redcoat and the Tory.
With their cannon and their pomp
They fight for King and glory.

But they kill our wives and kin
And our sisters desecrate.
I know it ain’t no sin
For this Colonial to hate.

I will kill until I die
These men who scourge my land.
In ambush here I lie
‘Til God stays my bloody hand.

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WAKE THE COURAGE

By Carl Martin Johnson

(To the Patriots of Venezuela)

 

Wake the courage that lies sleeping.

Rouse it now and fight!

The nation’s heart is in your keeping.

Her soul is your birthright.

 

Feel your spirit’s flame.

Burn bright through tyrant’s chains.

Put the despot’s hordes to shame.

Heroes’ blood flows through your veins.

 

Right will be your shield.

Honor your sharp sword.

They will see your nation healed,

And the people’s rule restored.

 

So together cast your lot.

Accept your obligation.

Though the struggle be hard fought,

You will restore your nation.

 

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PATRIOT’S GHOST

By Carl Martin Johnson

 

I gave my life for liberty.

I do not begrudge the price.

Should it keep my people free,

I would gladly pay it twice.

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SHALL WE FIGHT?
By Carl Martin Johnson

Shall We the People compromise,
Or shall we stand and fight?
Shall we submit to enemies’ lies,
Or shall we do what’s right?

If we take the coward’s way,
More than our honor’s lost.
If principles do not hold sway,
Our children will pay the cost.

The enemy is within our walls,
As well as outside our gate.
We must answer when duty calls,
Or it will be too late.

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ARM YOURSELF, GOOD MAN
By Carl Martin Johnson

Evil men must be fought,
Not cowered from in fright.
Safety must be bought
By good men who will fight.

No good hiding our eyes,
Or running to seek haven.
He who flees is he who dies
At the cruel hands of the craven.

So arm yourself, good man.
Let evildoers run in fear.
Stop them any way you can
To protect those you hold dear.
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