© Carl Martin Johnson, All rights reserved

 
THE BRIDGE
By Carl Martin Johnson
 
I came to the river and stopped there.
It was wide and flowed past at great speed.
I was on the bank of the side I had known.
Across the water was what I would need.

I stood there, timid, uneasy,
As the churning stream rushed past.
I knew I could not swim across.
The current was wild and too fast.

I saw, farther along the riverbank,
A narrow bridge of rough wood.
It appeared to be shaky and rotten.
Still, I would use it if I could.

But, as I approached I grew fearful.
The risk seemed to be too great.
I could easily fall in and drown.
My crossing, I reasoned, could wait.

So, I stayed on the safe side of the river.
I stayed on that safe side for years.
I grew old on the safe side of the river,
Looking across at my lost future through tears.

At last, I could stand it no longer.
My life was wasting in cowardly shame.
Rotting away like the old bridge.
And no one but me was to blame.

There was beauty and love on the far side,
And all that would make me complete.
I could stay on the safe side with my failures.
I could accept my lot in defeat.

Or I could risk all on the old bridge.
The bridge of fortune and chance.
I might die as I crossed the river,
Or survive, find the music, and dance.
 
With all my heart held, I took the first steps,
Halfway there when it began to crack.
Come better or worse I am now on this bridge.
For me there is no turning back.

The far bank is distant, yes, maybe too far.
The bridge crumbles as I inch along.
But, if I don’t make it, don’t hear the music and dance.
I will have, at least, sung my song.
 

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ONE CHANCE
By Carl Martin Johnson
 
You get one chance at the brass ring,
One chance and no more.
One chance for the prize
Behind the third door.

One shot at the bull’s eye.
One waltz at the dance.
One story worth telling.
One true romance.

We all get one free try.
Life’s not very nice.
If you want more than one chance,
You must pay the price.
 

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NEW EYES

By Carl Martin Johnson
 
I walked this path a day ago,
But nothing looks the same.
I wonder, did new flowers grow
In the short time since I came.

There was a star in the daytime sky,
Much like the one I see
Above the trees, though not as high.
It looks much brighter now to me.

And the bird whose nest is in this tree
Is now a radiant blue.
Perhaps the change is not the world, but me.
It was last night that I met you.

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THE STAR

By Carl Martin Johnson

You draw me to you
As if I am a friend,
As if I always knew you
My beginning to my end.

White radiance in soft black,
Smiling down at me.
I send my love back.
I know you can see.

I felt you welcome my birth,
Though I did not know you then.
You sent your light to my Earth
To tell me I had a friend.

You’ve been there all these years,
Through the pain and the pleasure,
Through my smiles and my tears.
Your comfort I treasure.

One day I will go.
Like a comet, burn away.
It gives me solace to know,
You’ll be up there that day.

When it happens please meet me.
I’ll be frightened, I’m sure.
I’d be grateful if you’d greet me.
Wrap me in your arms, white and pure.

We’ll stay together in the night sky.
I’ll have golden fire of my own.
People will say we are God’s Eye,
Watching from his Heavenly Throne.

 

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WORLDS
By Carl Martin Johnson
 
Sometimes I look deep inside.
I see a world swallowed whole.
Where my thoughts and memories abide
Where they combine to fertilize my soul.

My mix is unique,
A world of its own.
All the answers I seek
Are there to be known.

Inside you is your own place.
It is different than mine.
Your world has its own face,
Not the same, but as fine.

All our worlds are lit by one Sun,
Whose warm knowing we share.
And, because it’s the same One,
All our worlds will meet there
 

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SWEAT OF GOD’S BROW
By Carl Martin Johnson
 
Drops, thick and sweet,
Fall on my face.
Cool kisses in the heat
That scorches this place.

Wet bomblets make craters
In the road’s red clay dust.
Explosions of life generators
In the dead earth’s crust.

And it washes the pain
From my body, so worn.
Sent from Heaven, this rain
Makes my spirit reborn.

But I must get back on my feet.
My journey’s not done.
Obligations to meet.
Goals to be won.

I’ll push forward renewed.
I feel better now.
This rain brought soul food
From the Sweat of God’s Brow.
 

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THE JOURNEY
By Carl Martin Johnson
 
We all make the journey lonely,
Even if we are not alone.
In the time, and short time only,
We are given to reach fully grown.

The road is fraught with danger.
Dragons and demons and trolls.
Beyond every turn lurks a Stranger
Who hungers for our human souls.

But our Free Will is both sword and shield.
We travel armed for the fight.
The best of us never will yield
‘Til the Highway of Life meets the Light.
 

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INSIDE ME
By Carl Martin Johnson
 
I look inside to find me,
To see if I am there,
If the experiences behind me
Have made me more aware.

I look inside to find me,
To see if I have grown,
Or has my life confined me,
Dried the seeds that I have sown.

I look inside to find me,
To see if I know love.
Does its glowing presence blind me?
Is its source from God above?

I look inside to find me,
To find wonder if I can.
If my days have all combined me
So that I keep becoming Man.
 

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MEND MY HEART
By Carl Martin Johnson

You found me with heart shattered.
Please don’t betray my trust.
All the things that mattered
Lie broken in the dust.

It will mend if you are kind,
If you handle it with care.
If you kiss me you will find
Love still living there.

Perhaps it will grow again.
Glue my heart back whole.
Try hard and you might win
A caring, loving soul.

Chase me if I flee from you.
Run fast as ever you can.
Don’t let my melancholy overcome you.
Don’t let me spoil sweet Eros’ plan.

Convince me it is forever,
That our love will never die,
That you will desert me never,
That you will never make me cry.

I pray you are the lover
That Heaven sent for me,
That I will every day discover
Our great love was meant to be.

Now hold me gently, but with craving.
Carry me far into the sun.
It is both our hearts you’re saving.
We will not be two, but one.

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THUNDER
By Carl Martin Johnson
 
Last night I woke to thunder’s drums,
White flashes close behind,
Like long-past battle it oft becomes
A vivid scene in my mind.

The gods were vying for my soul
Arrayed in full combat gear,
Fighting desperately for control
Of that which they hold dear.

You see, gods are divine, but lonely.
Immortality is too long.
They lust to be not only
Worshipped, but to belong.

A reminder is the storm,
The whirlwind, and the quake.
That gods can do us harm,
But what we do not give they cannot take.

So, leave the gods to play.
Let them have their fun.
For, when night becomes day,
They will find that Man has won.
 

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EATING LIFE
By Carl Martin Johnson

I will eat you today, Life!
You cannot hide from me.
I will conquer any strife.
I will fight my strong soul free!

Your Love and Glory I will devour.
They nourish my great heart.
Fear and pettiness are far too sour.
They starve my vital part.

So, come at me with all your fury.
I will not bow or bend.
I am the judge, I am the jury.
I say how this play will end.

You are here for me, not me for you.
Your trials only make me stronger.
I will be a god when I am through.
And you are here no longer.
 

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WAKING
By Carl Martin Johnson
 
Let me wake to children’s laughter
Tinkling softly in my ears,
Before they know the pain that’s after,
Before they know the grown world’s fears.

Let me wake to songbirds singing,
Giving greeting to the dawn.
Let the joy that they are bringing
Stay with me as day wears on.

Let me wake to a bright world
Filled with the sun.
With Nature’s beauty unfurled,
And new Life begun.

And when I wake from Life’s sleep
Let me see God’s Great Face.
Then with all humankind keep
One Eternal Embrace.
 

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THE AMBUSH
 By Carl Martin Johnson

He heard the branch snap,
Not loud, but clear.
Moving into the trap.
They were coming near.

He forced himself still,
Every nerve focused tight.
Readied for the kill.
Prepared for the fight.

The others were awake.
He had tapped them alert.
Planning action to take,
Bracing for the hurt.

There was light from the moon,
Jungle-filtered and weak.
They would come into sight soon.
He heard one of them speak.

A drop rolled down his cheek
From his brow, or his eye.
Yet, he did not feel meek,
Even though he might die.

He took the drop from his chin,
Held it close up to see
That there glowed gentle within
A warm memory.

A time long past.
A kiss pure and sweet.
A time that went fast,
That made life complete.

He held the thought in his heart
As he readied his aim.
And while his world burst apart,
He whispered her name.
 

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THE NIGHT’S SECRET
By Carl Martin Johnson
 
I listened to the world last night
While lying in my bed.
Many sounds, both loud and slight
Combined for what was said.

Black wind blew a comforting sound
Through the woodwind of the trees.
Then a soothing quiet all around
Put my mind and soul at ease.

I focused hard, kept very still
So whispers could be heard.
Soon I felt the silence fill
Until it made a word.

It was a word that told me all,
All I would need to know.
But its syllables now I can’t recall
Though its meaning will never go.

I hear it now with every beat
Of Life, pumped by my heart.
It was the secret I had to meet
To find in Life my part.
 

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I SEE YOU
By Carl Martin Johnson

I see you in the clouds at dawn,
When God first lights the sky.
All the lovely thoughts that you spawn
Bring joy to my mind’s eye.

You are the swallows overhead,
Delicately slipping past.
The white clouds where the angels tread,
Which rise, soft mountains vast.

A flower, red with Life’s own hue,
Full with scent and nectar,
Is only another form of you
To me, your love’s collector.

The night stars each shine your smile,
The moon your glowing eyes.
I lay lost in them a while.
Only with your soul’s kiss I rise.

In every marvel you are there.
All wonders since your birth.
But of all things you were most fair,
When you graced us on this earth.

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MISSED GLORY
By Carl Martin Johnson
 
Fierce eagle of my youth
Where have you flown?
I am weary, in truth.
Stooped, wrinkled, alone.

I once rode wild horses,
My sabre gleamed bright,
As I charged enemy forces
In morn’s golden light.

And evil men feared me.
They knew me by name.
Many cried as they neared me,
In cowardly shame.

I stormed with Rough Riders
Up the hill named San Juan.
We were the deciders
In the battle we won.

And I galloped with my men
Through the woods of Argonne.
We were invincible then,
With torn flesh, shattered bone.

Yes, the best of us fell
In the heat of the fight.
Raging into the hell
Of the enemy’s might.

All my comrades who died
When forced to the test,
I remember with pride.
A loving pain in my chest.

Only I now remain.
I’ve outlived every one.
Feeling my life slowly drain.
Coming slowly undone.

I wish I had gone, too,
In a red blaze of glory.
I would have if I knew
The rest of Life’s story.

So I stand here today
Before honor’s holy shrine.
If I knew how, I would pray
To make a hero’s death mine.

Dear God, take me back
To this old mission’s walls.
To face Santa Ana’s attack,
To die brave as it falls.

Then my song would be sung.
Be a story to know.
Whenever bells are rung
For Sacred Alamo.
 

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LOVE, BRIEFLY

By Carl Martin Johnson
 
I loved you for an instant.
For a time you made me smile.
Your heart was never distant.
We had Heaven for a while.

But time and space created
A wedge between our hearts.
We saw that we were fated
To live our lives apart.

So I recall what we had sadly,
Yet fondly too, in parts.
Just briefly we loved madly.
For a time we shared our hearts.
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