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

 
 

CRYSTAL LENSES
By Carl Martin Johnson

Raindrops crystal lensed
Fell soft upon my eyes,
Leaving my vision cleansed
Of the waking world’s disguise.

For an instant I could see things
Before forbidden to my sight.
The prismed droplets served to free things,
Expose shy wonders to the light.

The beauty overcame me,
Made me forget my pain.
I felt love of life inflame me,
Lying bleeding in that rain.

The dreamworld washed away,
But the memory I hold dear.
Ever since that day
Neither life nor death I fear.

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OUR NATION’S QUEST
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.

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TO THE ENEMIES OF MY PEOPLE
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.

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WHERE CHARLIE HIDES
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.

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THE JUNGLE NIGHT
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.

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A SOLDIER’S LAST MINUTE
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.

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ONE MAN
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.

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DEATH OF A BROTHER IN MY ARMS
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.

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DAWN AFTER BATTLE
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.”

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WALK BOLDLY INTO THE SUN
By Carl Martin Johnson

Walk boldly into the morning sun.
Greet him like a brother.
Fight until Life’s battle’s done.
You will get no other.

You only die one death.
It is no cause for sorrow.
Should today see your last breath,
Your soul is free tomorrow.

Think only now of living.
Drink sweet daylight while you can.
Take all that God is giving.
Be proud you are a man.

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THE MAN UNDER THE TREE
By Carl Martin Johnson

There lies a man beneath that tree.
I killed him days ago.
I’d like to think I set him free,
But really I don’t know.

Others are sprawled ‘round him,
Lots of dead and dying.
But it was my bullet found him,
And left a mother crying.

His mouth seems to be grinning,
As if he welcomed death.
Could be a new life he’s beginning,
Though he’s spat out mortal breath.

I’ll join him soon, just could be.
This battle’s far from done.
Then I’ll bet we both agree
That neither side has won.

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STAND
By Carl Martin Johnson

If I do not stand and fight,
What will I become?
Shall I freeze or run in fright
When the enemy beats his drum?

Is my heart so weak
That I let my nation fall?
Only safety do I seek?
Am I a man at all?

Let no one doubt my will.
Attack my land and die!
I do not long to kill,
But beware my battle cry.

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COURAGE
By Carl Martin Johnson

It is courage makes a warrior whole,
Gives the other virtues worth,
Rich water that grows his soul,
And lends value to his birth.

No matter a handsome face,
Untold wealth or fame,
The coward is a disgrace,
His tribe’s undying shame.

The gods love most the brave
Who does the best he can.
His memory they will save.
It is he whom they call Man.

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MONSOON PATROL
By Carl Martin Johnson

This day’s been long and draining.
We’re weary from the fight.
Soaked through from heavy raining,
Praying for the cloak of night.

The choppers cannot fly.
The downpour is too hard.
If we don’t want to die,
We best keep up our guard.

The new guy finally died.
He’d been in lots of pain.
No one knew I cried,
Not in this fucking rain.

We’ve finally made the clearing.
We’ll get evaced at dawn.
It’s not Charlie, but rain I’m fearing.
Praying these damned clouds be gone.

Tonight no one will sleep.
Too scared and cold and wet.
We can’t hear Charlie creep,
‘Cause this storm ain’t stopping yet.

I wonder if I’ll make it.
Guess we all think the same.
I’m not good, but I can take it.
I won’t cause my people shame.

If I live, I will remember,
How I survived where I have been,
In the monsoons of September,
In the jungle near Tay Ninh.
 

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BROTHER KILLING BROTHER
By Carl Martin Johnson

I saw you kill my brother; I slew your only son.
We were enemies for years,
Now the bloody war is done,
And the widows shed their tears.

Which side had the right,
Perhaps history will show.
Was it worth the bloody fight?
I think we’ll never know.

Let us pray that we have learned
Few wars are worth the winning.
Carnage in battles earned
Between brothers is mass sinning.

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THE LAST MOON I’LL SEE
By Carl Martin Johnson

That moon there’s the last I’ll see,
Smilin’ friendly through the trees.
‘Cause the enemy’s comin’ after me,
Like a killin’ hard disease.

He’s in the jungle not too far,
Holdin’ back to lick his hurt.
If he knew how damn few we are,
I’d be bled out in the dirt.

He’ll see come tomorrow’s dawn.
We got no place to run.
Now just three, the rest are gone.
Looks like we’re good as done.

‘Til then I still got that moon.
Sure a fine last sight.
I know I’ll be dyin’ soon,
But I’m alive tonight.

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BRAVESONG
By Carl Martin Johnson

Sing to me of the brave,
Of their valorous deeds and worth,
Of innocent lives they save,
And the good they do on earth.

Few have the courage seed,
That blooms bright in the human breast.
But they are whom we need,
They are mankind’s best.

Duty is their prayer.
Honor is their breath.
We live safely in their care.
They guard, steadfast, to death.

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HERO’S LEGION
By Carl Martin Johnson

Some see crosses, row on row,
See names on a long black wall.
I see souls I want to know,
To embrace them one and all.

I know that we must each die.
Every man owes life a death.
Yet how we leave and the reason why
Mark a warrior’s final breath.

Look out on the Heroes’ Legion,
Brave lives gone but not asleep.
They are awake in Heaven’s region,
Where eternal watch they keep.

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THE BOAR
By Carl Martin Johnson

The boar stood silent on the hill,
Exuding dignity and power.
He was a beast I could not kill,
Though he the kingdom whole devour.

So I only held my place,
To savor the majestic sight.
Such strength combined with regal grace
I had no wish to fight.

The great creature slowly turned his head
To hold me in his gaze.
If he charged I would be dead.
He would end my mortal days.

I raised my spear in greeting.
I would die, if die I must.
But we were warriors meeting,
And I felt a warrior’s trust.

The animal’s dark eyes locked on mine,
One warrior to another.
‘Tween brute and man the line is fine.
This noble beast was my brother.

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BROTHER, TAKE MY HAND
By Carl Martin Johnson

Brother, take my hand.
Let me help you to your feet.
Together we will stand.
We will never accept defeat.

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SENTRIES
By Carl Martin Johnson

The night birds sang a song to me.
They told me not to fear.
They would alert with cacophony
Should the enemy come near.

Their chorus lulled me soft to sleep
Under the blanket of jungle night.
Dreams I had promised my soul to keep
To be ready for the coming fight.

But first I prayed that I would wake.
If not, that angels take me.
It was a treaty I could make.
My birds would not forsake me.

They did not betray my trust.
They raised the warning cry.
Now I fight, as fight I must.
Not their fault if I die.

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