© Carl Martin Johnson, All rights reserved

 
 

THE ISLAND
By Carl Martin Johnson

I awoke on a desert isle
Surrounded by deep sea.
I have been here a long while.
This may be my destiny.

I stand here on white beach,
Thinking hard what I should do.
Stay beyond the high surf’s reach,
Or swim out into the blue.

I loathe this isolation,
Yet I fear to leave.
If I go, I risk damnation.
If I stay, I know I’ll grieve.

Sharks slide beneath the waves.
Other swimmers have been devoured.
Nothing left to put in graves.
Knowing that makes me a coward.

But if I remain, I’ll be alone,
Alive, but empty and sad.
I will die having never known
The love that others had.

I will risk the great fish’s teeth
Of heartbreak and rejection.
If the waves I’m pulled beneath,
I will have tried for true affection.

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A WARRIOR MOTHER’S FAREWELL TO HER SON
By Carl Martin Johnson

She reached up for a kiss.
He bent down to her embrace.
That boyish look she would so miss,
The shining smile that lit his face.

His uniform was clean and pressed,
His cheeks smooth from his shave.
A mother never felt so blessed.
For his sake, she would be brave.

Yesterday he was a child,
Running out the door to play.
A good boy, a little wild,
But he was a man this day.

War would have him soon,
With its horror, blood and pain.
Brothers’ screams would play a tune,
Burned forever into his brain.

She would pray for his return
Every second, every minute.
She knew she could not learn
To live a life without him in it.

He waved just once as he left,
As years ago his father’d done,
Before he was lost to war’s bloody theft.
“Please, God! Don’t take my son!”

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I, QUIXOTE
By Carl Martin Johnson

They think I am a madman.
Let them. I am sane.
They admit I’m not a bad man,
Though they feel I’ve half a brain.

With little Sancho, I ride out,
Attacking windmills, so they say.
As for me, I have no doubt
I’ve slain dragons in my day.

True, my helmet is a steel pot,
My lance a blunted staff.
Yet, a clown I really am not,
In spite of how they laugh.

If they could see inside,
They would find a different man,
One whose valor he must hide
To thwart the Devil’s plan.

So, I will weather their derision.
It is for them I risk my all.
I must keep my strength from demons’ vision
To await the Battle Call.

And the world will praise my name
When those who sneer are under ground.
Don Quixote of great fame,
‘Twas a better world with him around.

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THE MOUNTAIN
By Carl Martin Johnson

The mountain stands commanding.
I cannot turn my sight.
Its presence is demanding.
But I will challenge it tonight.

What I need is on that peak.
Fear will not hold me back.
It is sacred, what I seek.
A thing I dare not lack.

The moon will light my way.
I need no sun to guide me.
Enemies might see me in the day.
I can use the night to hide me.

Creatures, dark-angel bred,
Will stop me if they can.
Yet, I will climb ‘til dead.
After all, I am a man.

For at the summit I will find
The virtue to make me whole.
There dwells the courage of my kind,
That transforms a human soul.

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NOT ALONE
By Carl Martin Johnson

Bullets snapped past his ear.
The retreat was becoming a rout.
He had to control his fear,
If any hope of getting out.

The soldier dived into the trees.
He was last man from the clearing.
He scrambled quickly to his knees.
The enemy was fast nearing.

The extraction had begun.
The choppers hovered and ropes dropped.
His fellows winched up one by one.
He would miss it if he stopped.

An explosion boomed behind him.
He saw a man tossed and fall.
His eyes searched, but could not find him.
The wild grass was too thick and tall.

“Don’t leave me!” he heard screamed.
Damn! They might forget him in the scramble.
Yet, could he ever be redeemed
If he did not take the gamble?

He watched the last chopper rise,
And with it his last chance.
With a last look at the skies
He charged into the dance.

He dropped beside his friend,
Who smiled gratefully and said,
“LT, is this the end?
Are we ‘bout to end up dead?”

The enemy was swarming.
They would soon be overrun.
It was too late for reforming.
This life would soon be done.

The wounded man grabbed for him,
And looked him in the eye.
Pulled him down to implore him,
“Tell me honest. Will I die?”

He held the boy while he fired,
Putting one arm down to hold him.
He was ready, he was tired,
But his voice was steady as he told him.

“You will die, my brother.
Death’s spear’s already thrown.
Your fate can be no other.
But you will not die alone!”

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THE DANCE
By Carl Martin Johnson

Golden leaves swirling high
In the canyon between the trees
Red brothers chasing ‘round the sky
Floating light upon the breeze.

Swooping swallows flit in and out,
Playing tag among the oaks,
Paying Nature homage devout,
By the grace of their prayerful strokes.

Midday sun blazing through the cold,
Warming my upturned face,
Turning the colors bright and bold,
Creating a magic place.

I would dance there for all time,
No thoughts at all, just feeling.
Like the months, I’ve reached my prime.
Each new year is really stealing.

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WEDDING POEM FOR CHRISTIAN AND SOMMER
By Carl Martin Johnson

Today we become one,
Still ourselves, but more.
We will never be undone.
Never lonely, like before.

Together we are strong,
Nothing can defeat us.
We can put right any wrong
Life throws out to meet us.

We are a winning team.
“I love you” is our cheer.
We will bring into our dream
All we ever will hold dear.

The vows we make today
Are from the soul and heart.
Carved in stone, not clay.
So now our life will start.

Our love never weakens.
Our love never dies.
Our love will shine like beacons
From each others’ eyes.


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AN ANGEL’S BIRTHDAY

By Carl Martin Johnson

The stars whispered to the moon
That God was making a special creature.
They said she would be coming soon,
Perfect in every feature.

When she at last appeared
The dawn held its glow fast.
The angel the sun had so endeared,
That he made the moment last.

That was my dear angel’s birth.
She is the fairest that can be.
She was given by God to the whole earth,
And, by His grace, to me.

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THE ROAD KILL
By Carl Martin Johnson

 

The setting sun was blinding
Down the rough New Mexico road.
The glare and the two-lane’s winding
Caused my eyes to overload.

 

I caught the golden flash
Just as I felt the hit.
I swerved, but did not crash.
My truck spun twice before it quit.

 

I jumped down from my truck
To see what I had claimed.
What creature, by bad luck,
I had killed or maimed.

 

A great puma sprawled in the dirt,
Magnificent, but bloody, head.
I knew he was badly hurt.
Almost certainly was dead.

 

I knelt down at his side,
Convinced there was no danger.
I admit I almost cried.
I did not feel he was a stranger.

 

Then he opened one huge eye.
My whole body froze.
I thought I was about to die.
Slowly as I could, I rose.

 

But his piercing eyes held mine.
Seized my gaze and drew me in.
I felt our thoughts intertwine,
I watched his life begin.

 

I saw chases through the pine,
Leaping on the buck’s wide back,
Sinking fangs into the deer’s spine,
Hiding my meat from the wolf pack.

 

Stalking mountain goat in the boulders,
Sliding smoothly in the dark,
Fluid rhythm of my shoulders,
I am the cordillera shark.

 

Hiding still while the hunter passes by,
Waiting the storm out in my lair,
Seeing the desert moon fill the sky,
Savoring scents in the mountain air.

 

Then he stood himself upright,
Holding my eyes with his own.
What I felt was no longer fright.
We had united in some strange zone.

 

He could see my memories, I knew.
Experiencing things I’d done.
For an instant, I swear it’s true,
The cougar and I were one.

 

He rumbled his farewells,
Walked into the darkening night.
Our minds had met where the Great Mind dwells.
Now our souls were larger for the sight.

 

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THE ENEMY WITHIN
By Carl Martin Johnson

 

We have allowed the fruit to rot,
Decaying sourly on the tree.
The Fathers would say this is not
What they meant by being free.

 

We elect fools to rule us
Because of promises they make.
Time after time they fool us.
They do not give, but only take.

 

The true culprit is our greed,
Love of self before our nation.
Which is no longer fit to lead
The world from its damnation.

 

Where have we put our pride?
Principles and self-esteem?
Have they run off to hide
With our forefathers ‘dream.

 

Are we too lazy to cast a vote?
To timid to keep foulness out?
Then we are singing a false note
When it is government we doubt.

 

We must protect what we hold dear,
Guard our sacred trust,
Know the enemy we must fear.
That enemy is us.

 

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HOW I DIED
By Carl Martin Johnson

 

The pain was bad, but it’s gone now.
In fact, I feel nothing at all.
Like my body’s not here somehow.
I can’t walk, but I can crawl.

 

The others have moved out.
I heard them in the night.
I tried, but I couldn’t shout.
My throat was shot up in the fight.

 

They’ll come back if I just wait,
When they count heads and are missing me.
‘Course, it will likely be too late
To keep the Reaper from kissing me.

 

I wish I had a drink.
Cool water would be best.
It would help me think
About my folks before I rest.

 

I don’t like dying lonely
I’d like some comfort as I move on.
Looks like it’ll be me only
Who’ll know the moment I am gone.

 

I guess it could be worse.
I’ve seen many suffer more.
I saw them scream and curse
Before they made it through the door.

 

I’ll turn over to see the sun,
Let its lifefire burn out my eyes.
Then I’ll declare my battle won.
This is how a soldier dies.

 

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OCTOBER COMES
By Carl Martin Johnson

Shortened days with creamy light.
Clouds high and stretched like cotton.
Stars brilliant through crisp air at night.
Crystal moon I had forgotten.

I walk the game trail near the trees.
Some red leaves flutter past.
Autumn smells are carried on the breeze.
Summer blooms trying hard to last.

I close my eyes and feel
The season wrap around me.
Seducing my soul with soft appeal.
I am glad it has once more found me.

The year, like me, winds down.
Now is the time for sweet reflection.
To hear life’s dying sound
Embrace endings with affection.

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DESERT ROSE

By Carl Martin Johnson

She blooms bright yellow all alone.
The cactus guards her with sharp spears.
Her beauty to nomads like us shown,
But try to touch and you risk tears.

In the midst of land so bleak,
She is unrivaled sweet temptation.
Yet, do not mistake her for the love you seek.
She only allows us adoration.

Look beyond her, if you can.
Find other focus for your affection.
Though all other things will be less than
The Desert Rose in her perfection.

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THE CHAIR
By Carl Martin Johnson

The chair rolled down the hill,
Travelling fast, but controlled.
Almost a military drill,
Or some maniac paroled.

He bent forward to add speed.
His scarf streamed back behind him.
He seemed fleeing some heinous deed.
Vengeful demons sent to find him.

Thoughts in the young man’s brain
Were speeding faster than the chair.
Bad memories will always remain
From what had happened there.

Yet happy images were winning,
Drowning those of blood and screams.
He was laughing, he was grinning.
Overcoming cruel dreams.

At the bottom of the slope
He turned a perfect pirouette.
He called up all his hope,
And yelled “I ain’t dead yet!”

“Bastards got my legs and feet,
Tore ‘em all apart.
But they ain’t got me beat!
‘Cause I still got my heart!”

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THE OLD MAN
By Carl Martin Johnson

His walk was a little slow,
From a bullet that clipped his shin
In a battle long ago.
A fight he did not win.

The leaves had begun to fall.
Their colors pleased his eyes.
And the thought that, after all,
There can be beauty when a living thing dies.

He gazed outward, but focused in
On the memory movies in his mind,
Watching his life begin,
And continue to unwind.

There was sadness, not a lot.
Joy had mostly ruled his years.
He himself had called every shot
That had brought him smiles or tears.

A fine woman had come his way.
Now gone on before him.
He was amazed to this day
Why she did so adore him.

“The past is not really gone,” he said.
“It’s not even past.
It hovers right above our head.
Its tentacles tie us fast.”

This was his final autumn stroll.
He would sleep soon, long and deep.
He had not reached every goal.
Still, he had no cause to weep.

Life had been an adventure sweet.
Each risk had made him grow.
Made him strong enough to meet
The new adventure he would soon know.


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