© Carl Martin Johnson, All rights reserved

 
 

THE BANG
By Carl Martin Johnson

 

One day the world began,
Not with a whimper, but a bang.
The commencement of God’s plan.
First note of the Song He sang.

 

It sent the bright stars flying,
Spread to the end of time,
Sparkling tears of angels crying
At the sight of beauty so sublime.

 

Bit by bit Life grew aware,
This wonder to admire.
All creation a constant prayer
For the love it can inspire.

 

The bang was Man’s birth hymn.
We are its Singer’s Song.
The music in us is Him.
And with Him our voice is strong.

 

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THE SUPPER
By Carl Martin Johnson

 

They are all here at my table.
No better friends than these.
I will do what I am able
So it is only me the enemies seize.

 

The food is good, but I’ve no hunger.
I only want a little wine.
Life was easier when I was younger,
And had no hint of fate’s design.

 

I never thought to play the lead,
Especially in a work this grand.
If I’m going to succeed,
I will need a helping hand.

 

Only recently have I learned
What I am, what I must do.
It’s not a mission that can be spurned.
Once begun, I must see it through.

 

What is happening must be done.
I know it is up to me.
But I wish I were not the one.
It may be more than I can be.

 

I only know I’ll do my best.
If I fail, I will have tried.
For John, Judas and the rest,
I hope it matters that I died.


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HAPPINESS
By Carl Martin Johnson

Happiness slapped me awake this morning.
It shot down from the sun.
I had not a second’s warning
Before the deed was done.

A breezy tune filtered through my brain,
Made sounds and colors bright,
Blew away all my grief and pain,
I loved all in my sight.

I took a breath of the great world’s soul.
It energized my own.
I felt a need to eat Life whole
To feed the way I’d grown.

I may not always feel this way
I’m sure I’ll never know why.
But I will drink every drop of today,
And keep its memory ‘til I die.

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HARD TIMES
By Carl Martin Johnson

I’ve seen hard times in my years,
But my spirit did not break.
They’ve never driven me to tears.
I’ve known nothing I can’t take.

Knock me down and I’ll spring back
I’ll never be Fate’s slave.
When everything looks grim and black,
It won’t drive me to my grave.

Without money, I’ve got by.
Homeless nights I have endured.
I got hurt, but didn’t die.
Been damned sick, but I self- cured.

All these things have made me tough.
I could take them all again.
I would never cry “Enough!”
Hard times make hard men.

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EXCITEMENT  
By Carl Martin Johnson

I think I’ll find a storm cloud.
Take it for a pet.
I would leave it unbowed.
I’d be excited by the threat.

I will toss around its lightning,
Swallow its bright fire.
I may find it frightening,
But that is my desire.

I will plunge into the torrent,
Swim through the fierce deluge
Should I find the task abhorrent,
I will still seek no refuge.

Its hard winds will lift me high,
Throw me hard from side to side.
Though it bounce me off the sky,
The hurricane I will ride.

And soon I’ll see the sun
I’ll slide earthward on its beams,
Grateful for my fun.
Happy in my dreams.

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SOUL WIND
By Carl Martin Johnson

A cold wind blew ‘cross my heart today,
Dragging lost souls behind it.
They were searching for a place to stay,
But it seemed they could not find it.

I heard them wailing in despair,
Lonely, hopeless and forlorn,
Damning life for being unfair,
Cursing the day that they were born.

My spirit melted at their pleas,
For I am mortal too.
I would soon be a ghost like these.
There must be something I could do.

I felt them hovering ‘round inside,
Pursued by evil pure.
I threw open my own soul so they might hide
Until God’s forgiveness was secure.

I feel them flutter in there yet.
I will protect them while I can.
I will not abandon or forget
We are all the fruit of Man.

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I SAW JIMMY DIE
By Carl Martin Johnson

I saw Jimmy die.
He’d been my friend for years.
I saw Jimmy die.
I can’t hold back the tears.

As a boy he fought off cancer.
It’s poison could not still his laugh.
To its assault his heart gave answer.
That foul disease he ripped in half.

Together we went to war.
We saw battle there, and death.
Jimmy won Bronze and Silver Star.
Saved me from taking my last breath.

We returned and life was hard.
Still, Jimmy never lost his spark.
It was Jimmy kept the guard
Against sorrow when all was dark.

He loved his children and his wife.
Kept them safe, clothed and fed.
There was nothing in this life
That Jimmy cared for instead.

Yet, Jimmy always loved to dream.
In truth, not a practical man.
How his amber eyes would gleam,
At a wild, adventurous plan.

This harmless trait had left him poor,
And his good wife discontent.
So he decided to become a “doer”,
Change his dreaming to a realist bent.

For the next half century I saw him
Accrue wealth and worldly things.
While I watched something gnaw him.
A bird within that never sings.

Slowly, slowly his eyes grew dim.
The glow that had shone went dark.
The once jolly face turned grim.
The gentle laugh became a bark.

One day Jimmy died.
There appeared no natural cause.
Though many of us cried,
There were those who gave applause.

I saw Jimmy die.
It took him fifty years.
I saw Jimmy die.
But it was his life that brings my tears.
 

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THE GOOD THIEF

By Carl Martin Johnson

Dismas is my name,
Who hangs here on this cross.
A highwayman of fame,
Though none will mourn my loss.

Another, less famed than I,
Is with me on this hill.
For our crimes we are to die,
Those sins of our own will.

But there is nailed a man between.
I am confused as to his fault.
I have heard his hands are clean,
No good cause for his assault.

He smiled at me, that man,
Through blood flowing down his face.
I wonder how he can,
So close to death’s embrace.

I bribed the guard for wine
To dull my ending’s pain,
So I returned his kind look with mine
Despite my spirit’s wane.

He is offering to take me
To his kingdom when we die.
I believe he will not forsake me.
Anyway, it is worth a try.

My eyes are closing now
On a lost life not well done.
But here my fate has led somehow.
At my death, I may have won.

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JULIUS
By Carl Martin Johnson

I am Julius, a Caesar,
Emperor of Rome.
She is my love. I live to please her
Her seven hills are my home.

The lands I’ve given her are vast.
I’ve made her wealthy and secure.
Her grandeur will forever last.
Her culture will endure.

But when I search my heart,
I know I’m just a man,
Though Fate has written me a part
That I will play the best I can.

Will what I do have import
Ten centuries from now?
Or will cruel history distort
What I do and how?

Will someone in future years
See back inside my mind,
And realize my laughs and tears
Were no different than their kind?

I know I am not divine,
But I must act a god.
This world I walk is mine.
Civilization grows where I’ve trod.

Can I be man and Caesar too?
I must; that is my life.
Else all my works undo,
And I fall to treason’s knife."

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WHEN LIFE SCREAMS OUT MY NAME
By Carl Martin Johnson

When Life screams out my name,
Will it be to cheer a hero’s feat?
To celebrate my fame
For driving the enemy to retreat?

Or will it be in abject terror
Because I’ve made a fool’s mistake,
And my grievous error
Caused Gehenna’s demons to awake.

No, I think the scream
Will be to call me from my sleep
To shake me from a dream
That has dragged me far too deep.

Life needs me alert.
I stand watch over my kind.
To protect them from hurt,
And keep enemies confined.

I will await Life’s summoning cry.
I will run to do my part.
If for that I die
Life will cheer my valiant heart.

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THE LAUGH
By Carl Martin Johnson

I laughed early this morning.
I really don’t know why.
It burst out with no warning,
And ended with a sigh.

There must have been a happy thought
Somewhere deep inside my mind.
Before I saw it, it got caught.
Now it’s too hard to find.

Or maybe an angel passing by
Decided to play a trick
To punish me for some small lie,
And tickled my soul real quick.

No matter how I got the gift,
It’s making me feel great.
So, if any would pull down this lift,
You’ll simply have to wait.


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THE CASTLE
By Carl Martin Johnson

His horse had died that day.
His lance had long been broken.
He had tried hard to pray,
But not a word was spoken.

He would not forsake his pledge,
Though he was bruised and scarred.
His sword still had a cutting edge.
His will was still rock hard.

Dented armor he’d cast aside.
The shield he yet wielded.
Without it he would have died.
For he had never yielded.

Rising above him, perched on high.
Was the castle of his quest.
He would enter or he would die.
He could not fail this test.

Its turrets watched over the truth,
Held safe within fortress walls,
That he had sought from early youth,
With many stumbles, many falls.

It was now within his reach.
One great final leap.
A wall of terror he must breach,
Then truth, and peaceful sleep.

 

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END AT THE BEGINNING  
By Carl Martin Johnson

Some beginnings never start.
They die before they live.
Leaving sadness for the empty heart
That has not learned to give.
 

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PICTURES
By Carl Martin Johnson

Their small house was a love-filled place.
It kept them dry and warm.
The smile that lit his cute wife’s face
Melted him with its charm.

He looked outside and saw his son
Playing with their pup.
Both their lives had just begun.
It would be fun watching them grow up.

Kitchen smells of pie and roast
Filtered out and made him grin.
He didn’t know what he loved most,
Her peach pie or her soft skin.

An explosion broke into his dream.
The enemy charging again.
He heard his wounded comrades scream.
His own luck was wearing thin.

His fantasy returned for a last kiss,
Taste of a life he would not see.
Instead, reality for him was this.
Knocking on the door of eternity.

But, as the bullets cut him through,
He leapt back to his dreaming place.
And the last thoughts that the soldier knew
Brought a smile to his dying face.

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LIFE SPEED
By Carl Martin Johnson

Hurtling past at demon speed.
Catch me if you can!
Taking everything I need.
Ruled by my own plan.

Only once I’ll pass this way.
One time will be enough.
For I will surely have my day.
I will call Life’s bluff.

Try to block me if you dare,
Because I will convert you.
I will deprive you of all care
And bad things that will hurt you.

We’ll form an army alike in soul.
Conquer Life and make it ours.
Take the best parts and make a whole.
Then revel in its magic powers.

We will build, not destroy.
We will attack all sadness.
We will fill the world with joy.
Share with all our gladness.

We will bend Life to our will.
Be its masters, not its slaves.
Enjoy each day until
We lie smiling in our graves.

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THE GHOST
By Carl Martin Johnson

It was shapeless, barely glowing,
When I saw it moving past
Like liquid firelight flowing
Through the shadow that I cast.

It dimmed in the bright moon,
Came ‘round again, but stronger.
I had a feeling that soon
It would confront me longer.

Features began taking shape.
The glow turned white and brightened.
I first thought to escape,
But I wasn’t really frightened.

It condensed to luminous mist,
An outline, but obscure,
Seeming more to consist
Of aroma, crisp and pure.

I sensed the wraith staring,
Though I could see no eyes.
The look, I thought, was caring,
No wish for my demise.

A soft vibration stirred my mind,
A music without sound.
A symphony designed
To leave my soul unbound.

The ghost drew closer to me,
Somehow judging and deciding
Almost as if it knew me,
But wished to see what I was hiding

Then the phantasm throbbed
Like the beating of a heart.
I could tell I was being robbed,
But of an unwanted part.

I was starved for breath.
My lungs began to fail.
I was nearing death,
Before I could inhale.

When at last I drew air,
I took in the specter, too.
Yet, rather than despair,
I rebounded purged and new.

The ghost digested into my being.
Begetting a thing better than before.
I knew that I was seeing
Through creation’s opening door.

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