© Carl Martin Johnson, All rights reserved

 

MESSAGE IN THE THUNDER
By Carl Martin Johnson

The rumbling was long and deep,
Felt before it was heard.
It shook me from my sleep
Like the dead being disinterred.

It was a thing alive,
Growling low its warning.
Announcing it would soon arrive,
Leaving the land in mourning.

Throwing random spiteful flashes,
It rolled dark across the plain.
Covering the night with acoustic ashes,
And aroma from the Devil’s reign.

Was it bringing me some tiding?
A missive it would tell?
Beneath its roaring hiding
Some epistle sent from Hell?

I could hear I was being warned
About how I had been living.
A caution not to be scorned.
There would be no more forgiving.

I saw in awful wonder
How for my sins I would pay the toll.
The next time I heard thunder
It would be coming for my soul.

____________________________________________

SOULS ON FIRE
By Carl Martin Johnson

Sometime in the dark of night
The spark became a flame.
The dim red glow came into sight
Before it had a name.

It was an angel-whispered rumor
Spreading quickly through men’s hearts,
Carrying with it uneasy humor,
Laughing at the despot’s arts.

Followers of those who preach hate
Grew uneasy as the fire spread.
But to change was not for them too late.
Those who did not would be dead.

Good men saw what had been done.
Civilization itself was crumbling.
There was a fight that must be won,
And not with leaders’ mumbling.

Now all the souls bright burning
Create a blazing holocaust,
Sending the righteous churning
To save us before we’re lost.

For those who would conspire
To keep Man from his goals,
We will build a funeral pyre
From the fire in our souls.

____________________________________________

THE CHALLENGE
By Carl Martin Johnson

Let’s shake hands and come out fighting
From our corners of the ring.
It is you, World, I’m inviting.
Come with all you have to bring.

You are here to test me,
See if I am worth my salt.
Do what you can to best me.
You will find but little fault.

Your hardships I can take,
Your sorrow and travail.
My spirit will not break.
You cannot make me fail.

I do not require you love me,
And I know you do not hate,
But you are not created above me.
I, not you, will hold my fate.

From you I ask no quarter.
You will have none from me.
You have nothing for which I’ll barter,
Or trade the heart of me.

I will overcome and eat you.
What I take will make me grow.
I have the power to defeat you.
I am someone you will know.

You, World, and all in you,
Against me in the arena of life.
I will not only win you
I will make of you my wife.

____________________________________________

THE SCREAM
By Carl Martin Johnson

It rolled in long notes from the hill,
Muffled slightly by the trees.
Started deep, but became shrill,
Spread like a blanket by the breeze.

The silence rang loud at the end,
Deafening and dark,
Sucked hard into the black night wind,
While the dead souls disembark.

I froze still to listen.
Should I help or should I flee?
I could hear the cold stars glisten,
And whispers of eternity.

Deep within the secret me
Bounced echoes of the shout.
If I searched, what would I see?
Could the source be singled out?

I turned my gaze inside,
Afraid of what I’d find,
Where my deepest fears abide,
In the backroads of my mind.

I heard an anguished sigh,
Saw the womb of my soul torn.
And I knew what had made the cry
Was an idea being born.

____________________________________________

A BOY’S DREAM
By Carl Martin Johnson

He rides a great white charger
In armor of silver and gold,
Challenging evil knights much larger,
Slaying dragons in count untold.

His lance is always ready,
His sword held in strong arm,
His thrust sure and steady
For all who would do his family harm.

His bed is in the castle keep
Weapons close by on the floor.
He would rouse quickly from his sleep
Should a wolf come through the door.

Soon the child will from his dream arise
To face the waking day,
With a light of courage in his eyes
That will keep evil ones away.

____________________________________________

THE HANGED MAN
By Carl Martin Johnson

In a moment I will hang.
My life on earth be quit.
It was the song I sang.
I regret no verse of it.

When my life flashes before my eyes,
Will it be worth the viewing?
I, like every man who dies,
May well beg its renewing.

I lived the way I wanted.
No one else to blame.
Seems like I was always haunted
By ghosts of wealth and fame.

This scaffold that was built for me
Lifts me high above the crowd.
When I drop into eternity,
They will see my head unbowed.

I stand here on the trapdoor
The watchers wait in silent awe.
I feel like committing just one more
Crime against the law.

I will jump off the gallows deck.
Cheat the hangman from his pay,
I will break my own dear neck,
Give the folks a surprise today.

And they’ll tell their grandkids of me,
Of my deeds and spirited end.
So now I go to the Lord above me.
This last step and I meet my Friend.

____________________________________________

LOOK FOR ME IN THE SUNSET
By Carl Martin Johnson

Look for me in the sunset.
You will find me if you try.
The sun is where our hearts met.
It’s where we’ll say goodbye.

I do not want to leave you,
But my time on earth is through.
For a while it may grieve you
Until we meet anew.

If I could run to you, I would.
But my honor will not let me.
I will not be gone for good,
So long as you do not forget me.

My death will not end us.
You will feel me at your side.
All the angels will befriend us.
Our love will give them pride.

I must do my duty,
Must face what must be done.
I will think of your sweet beauty.
While this battle will be won.

Though I will miss your tender touch,
And it has been said before:
“I could not love thee, dear, so much,
Loved I not honor more.”

So see me in the setting sun.
Our love burned in its fire.
And know that you are the only one
That ever could my heart desire.

____________________________________________

 

SKYROCKETS
By Carl Martin Johnson


Throw your wishes to the sky and see
Skyrockets in flight.
Otherwise the night will be
Full of stars with no starlight.

Watch dazzling comets light the dark.
They are hopes you have inside.
Each new wish another spark
To the fuse of a rocket ride.

Catch a big one as it shoots by.
Hold it until it comes true.
To find happiness you must try.
Come on! I’ll ride with you.

 

____________________________________________

THE SEARCHER
By Carl Martin Johnson

 

The Texan rode a spotted horse.
He sat the saddle tall and high.
You could sense a strong but gentle force
As the horseman passed you by.

 

He cantered into my hometown
When I was just a boy.
I watched him rein in and climb down,
And smile with eyes that held no joy.

 

Silver dressed his saddle.
Silver rimmed his spurs.
They made a kind of rattle,
Like a cougar when it purrs.

 

Dust covered the black hat he wore,
From days out on the trail.
It shaded the long scar he bore
Down his face like lightning pale.

 

On his hip rode a holster filled with steel,
Looking used hard, but well-tended.
The sight of it made me feel
That with it many lives had ended.

 

Through a café window I watched him sit
At a table all alone
Looking out so his vision would permit
All those approaching to be shown.

 

He drank coffee from his cup,
Eyes fixed on a locket in his hand.
I never saw him once look up.
It was hard to understand.

 

For an hour he was still,
Like a statue carved from rock.
I stood and watched until
I saw a new hour on the clock.

 

By then my interest had declined.
But, as I turned to go,
I heard riders from behind.
From their gallop, I watched them slow.

 

Four men on mounts run hard
Jumped down and tied their reins.
They looked grim and on their guard,
Like cold blood ran in their veins.

 

The Texan raised his head
To see the men outside.
His eyes went hard and dead,
Then his left hand opened wide.

 

I saw the locket in his palm,
Silver like his spurs.
He looked at it, long and calm,
Then I saw something in him stir.

 

One rider checked the spotted mare,
And nodded to the others.
They pulled their guns with care,
Four death-dealing brothers.

 

The Texan cleared the doorway,
Six-gun roaring as he moved.
He was fast and good at gunplay,
That his sure, quick killing proved.

 

Two riders dropped into the dirt.
The others firing, but dropped back.
The Texan was hit and hurt,
But he stood and reloaded for attack.

 

More lead flew, flesh ripped and tore.
Gunsmoke fogged my view.
All three reloaded and fired some more.
One fell, now just stood two.

 

The Texan bled from many holes.
The rider bled from more.
Both their guns had taken tolls.
Both men poised on eternity’s shore.

 

Then the rider’s gun clicked hollow.
His face froze and he knew.
He tried, but could not swallow.
His living time was through.

 

The Texan’s blood was spilling.
He was weak, but standing ground.
He was not yet done with killing.
He raised his arm and fired the round.

 

The last rider jerked and fell,
Soul flying to Satan’s care.
He joined his brothers down in Hell.
But the Texan could not call the debt owed square.

 

What he had lost was gone forever.
Dreams buried in the dirt.
The Texan knew he’d never
Recover from the hurt.

 

He dragged onto his saddle,
Left hand trying for his pocket.
In the pain of throwing his leg astraddle,
He did not see he’d dropped the locket.

 

I was scared, but I ran over.
I took the locket and raised it high.
There was a Star of Texas on the cover,
Inside why the riders had to die.

 

The Texan looked me in the eyes.
I now understood his taking life.
He rode away with the locket that held his prize,
The portrait of his child and wife.

 

____________________________________________

 

DRESSED ONLY IN OUR LAUGHTER
By Carl Martin Johnson

 

Clothed only in bright laughter,
You and I roll in the rain.
We’ve caught the rainbow we were after.
We are joyously insane.

 

Inhibitions cast aside.
No limits to our pleasure.
Passion’s mounts we ride
In pursuit of erotic treasure.

 

Then we lie, energies spent,
Under cleared and starry skies.
Bodies and souls content,
Devouring each other with our eyes.

 

We fall asleep among the flowers.
Their perfume blessing dreams.
And for many peaceful hours,
We soak in white moonbeams.

 

In the gentle light of dawn,
Skin basking in golden glow,
We awake to carry on,
For through us the world will grow.

 

____________________________________________


HER
By Carl Martin Johnson


Her soul glows through her eyes,
As if she has an angel inside.
Like Life is a lovely surprise,
And she is the whole world’s bride.


Then she smiles, and it warms you,
Gives you comfort and cheer.
You feel there is nothing that harms you.
That you are loved and held dear.


If you are blessed you might win her.
If your love’s true and strong.
And have all that is in her
All eternity long.


____________________________________________

 

THE MORNING SUN
By Carl Martin Johnson

 

I looked into you, Morning Sun.
You were not yet fully born.
Flamed and struggling to come undone,
From the earth’s womb being torn.

 

Your birthing tears were golden rays
Squeezed bright from your red face,
Setting the waiting world ablaze
In your spreading fire’s embrace.

 

I enjoy the night, dark and cool.
It allows my soul to rest.
But night is the time when spirits rule.
It is day that I love best.

 

I know that I am sunrise, too,
Every day when I awake.
I feel the life inside renew
With the first breath that I take.

 

So you and I, Sun, my friend,
Together farewell the night
With our Life that has no end,
And God’s eternal Light.

 

____________________________________________

 

THE BRAVEST MAN
By Carl Martin Johnson

 

You are a better man than I.
I would not have been so brave.
To have your mother watch you die,
So fools like me you’d save.

 

I know you were a gentle man.
I admire that part of you.
By my full esteem is for your stand,
Under the suffering you went through.

 

Your God part is way above the head
Of a plain warrior man like me,
Yet, I can see you striking dread
Into a fearsome enemy.

 

Would I have fought at your side,
Brother warriors, you and I.
It would be any soldier’s pride
To stand with you and die.

 

So, forgive me, though you are divine,
Comrade-in-arms you are to me.
I consider you a brave-hearted friend of mine,
Who has come to set Man free.

 

____________________________________________

 

IF YOU ARE LEAVING
By Carl Martin Johnson

 

Tell me if you are leaving,
Though I won’t want you to go.
It will help me through the grieving,
If you’ll gently let me know.

 

I could swear, but I won’t change,
And you’re the way you are.
We’re both a little strange.
I’m surprised we got this far.

 

Our love will not be ended
When at last we break apart.
But a coolness has descended,
An ice shield around the heart.

 

I pray for it to thaw,
To warm to what we had.
I fear it is too late to withdraw
Hurtful words that made us sad.

 

I pray that I am wrong,
That the spark will come to life,
That love has not sung its final song,
That I have not lost you as my wife.

 

If you’re just going for a walk,
Okay, I’ll see you later.
But, if this is our last talk,
I wish our love could have been greater.

 

____________________________________________