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© Carl Martin Johnson, All rights reserved

Winter Sounds

By Carl Martin Johnson

The white coals above him
Glowed in the black sky.
Their twinkling sent to love him.
Their beauty made him cry.

He lay back and admired,
Giving thanks for the sight.
He did not mind being tired
On such a marvelous night.

The soft black overhead
Felt comfortable and warm,
Like the blanket on his childbed,
Keeping out the world’s harm.

A comet blazed through
Trailing its magical spark.
Writing in gold hues and blue
Its name in the dark.

He closed his eyes with a smile.
But he knew that was wrong.
He would sleep in a while.
And the sleep would be long.

This night was to savor
All the joys of his life.
Every wonderful flavor,
His children, his wife.

“For these nights we are born.”
Was the thought in his mind.
Better to celebrate than mourn.
Fate had mostly been kind.

No moon vied for glory.
No sun stole their light.
Each told an angel’s story,
From their heavenly height.

He knew they would meet him
When he rose to their world.
Smiling to greet him,
Golden wings unfurled.

He had grown very weary.
He was ready to rest.
No need to get teary.
He was up to the test.

He forced his eyes down
For one final try.
But there was only black all around
Where the sea met the sky.

It was days since his fall.
Too late to be saved.
Really no chance at all.
Just the sea for his grave.

So he looked up at his friends.
How they gladdened the sky!
And he waved to them then,
As he bid them goodbye.


By Carl Martin Johnson

Scribble, arrogant poet,
Spit your words across the page.
They mean little, and you know it,
And grow more meaningless with age.

If Life has purpose, you can’t find it.
You have the depth of a shallow pond.
Find a cliché and hide behind it,
Or obscure words of which you’re fond.

Wallow in praise you ill deserve,
With hubris become bloated.
I wonder you have the nerve
To allow your lines be quoted.

Scribble away, you foolish man.
Pretend your words have worth.
Forget, if forget you can,
That you’ve been a fool since birth.


By Carl Martin Johnson

Burn brightly, shooting star!
Rage fiery across the sky.
Let the world know who you are.
Flame high before you die.

Slash the night with your lightning.
Dazzle the gods when you ignite.
Streak past like an angel frightening.
Show it is you who owns the night.

Other lights glow in the sky
But they are captive in their places.
Not like you and I.
We are anchored to no bases.

So, Brother Comet, let us fly!
Show the universe we’re here.
Let it gaze in wonder as we flash by,
Striking awe, and to evil, fear.

And when our infernos turn to ember,
Our paths burned into every mind.
The world will then remember
We were souls of the daring kind.


By Carl Martin Johnson

I slide from one dream to a new one.
I am just between two now.
Never knowing which is a true one.
Why I landed there or how.

Memories mix and fade,
Leak into my mind and out.
Never certain which ones I've made.
Reality constantly in doubt.

Right now my thoughts are clear,
Yet the moment will not last.
In an instant very near,
This clarity will be past.

I will be a new creation.
At least, so I will believe.
Truth or imagination?
The threads of both will interweave.

I have hope I’m moving higher.
Back to the womb that gave me birth.
To godliness, I aspire.
For this journey to have worth.


By Carl Martin Johnson

Have I lived too long?
Have I missed my chance at glory?
Will no one write my song?
No author of my story?

What options were left unmined?
What paths left unexplored?
Has history left me behind
Because too quickly I was bored?

My achievements are little noted.
No statues have been raised.
My followers hardly devoted.
My successes but mildly praised.

But I have time remaining.
I will find a worthy crusade.
And instead of my complaining,
I will earn my accolade.


By Carl Martin Johnson

I think this life I’m moving in
May be a kind of womb.
My real existence will begin
On the far side of the tomb.

I must be here to learn,
To absorb and to prepare,
So that I might earn
A place of honor there.

My actions are illusion.
Reality lies beyond.
All responses here delusion,
Only shadows which respond.

Brief glimpses I’ve been granted
The curtain parted for me to see
A future world enchanted,
If I find the entry key.


By Carl Martin Johnson

On Christmas Day a child was born,
A better man than I.
Who else could wear that crown of thorn,
And for all of mankind die?

He was a warrior, too,
Whose sole weapon was his love.
Only he could do
What the world was in need of.

That man was a real man.
The best that man can be.
His heart and soul were bigger than
Those of men like you and me.

So I salute his day of birth,
And embrace him as my friend.
He was a man of untold worth.
May his love on all descend.


By Carl Martin Johnson

He had driven hard for hours
Under the harsh West Texas sun,
Over a land that overpowers,
That no man yet has won.

The long miles took their toll.
His whole body ached.
This was a tough patrol.
He turned off the road and braked.

He got out to clear his head.
The drive had made it hurt,
When he saw a dry creek bed
And a boot stuck in the dirt.

He walked over and kneeled to see.
It was old, the leather rotten.
Its owner surely ceased to be.
Some cowboy long forgotten.

Or was it a lawman’s foot it fit,
Maybe a Ranger just like him,
Knocked loose when he was hit,
Shot dead as the sun went dim.

If he searched would he find bones,
A shallow grave long neglected,
Covered by sand and stones,
Until now undetected.

He crossed himself and straightened his gun
He would leave the past alone
He had his own outlaws yet undone,
It was they who would have to atone.


By Carl Martin Johnson

Winter sounds crack crisp and clean,
No echo in the snow,
Like memories we’ve never seen,
Yet cause our hearts to glow.

The hawk’s cry slices sharp
Through air too cold to breathe.
The falling ice an angel’s harp
Accompanying the Ice Queen’s seethe.

Footfalls crunch the frozen crust,
Smashing in and sucking free.
Leaving tracks in white clinging dust.
Brief memories of me.

I close my eyes and wait
For the silence to enfold me.
And let my soul assimilate
What the winter told me.


By Carl Martin Johnson

I gave my enemy life tonight.
I just could kill no more.
I had him lined up in my sight,
Could’ve shoved him through Death’s door.

I know I should have been strong.
He would have killed me if he could.
To let him live was wrong.
He would have understood.

His face was grim and thin.
Life likely had been hard.
But this night he would win.
Must’ve had an angel standing guard.

No wife would cry because of me,
No grieving children’s tears
This lucky man would go free,
Perhaps to live many years.

In my memory I marked him well.
I wished for him the best.
On this killing ground of our war’s hell,
We had both been blessed.

He would not know, this side of Death,
How our lives’ paths had crossed.
How close he’d been to his last breath,
To finding his future lost.

I never truly grasped the reason
I granted his reprieve.
Maybe it was only the season.
That night was Christmas Eve.



By Carl Martin Johnson

I have returned.
You saved my place.
No bridges burned
That I can’t replace.

And among you I will stay
Until I am called again
For evil dragons to slay,
Or more battles to win.



By Carl Martin Johnson

Wind, you know where you are going.
I think I’ll tag along..
Maybe you will share your knowing,
Show me where it is that I belong.

I will float on your swift currents,
Carried high above the seas.
You can give me no deterrent.
I will follow where I please.

I will find your destination,
Though you swirl and storm about.
Is it the source of our creation?
The seed from which we sprout?

I know, Wind, you want me.
I feel your caress upon my cheek.
Your soft whistling haunts me,
Telling me you know what I seek.

So carry me in your arms,
As soft zephyr or might gale.
You’ve seduced me with your charms.
Now serenade me with your wail.

I will ride you on my quest
You will be my trusted steed.
If with wisdom I am blessed,
It will be because you lead.


By Carl Martin Johnson

It was my heart that heard the thump
I’d felt it many times before.
I could not stop my jump.
It sent me to the floor.

Was this mortar shell for me?
Was my name etched on its side?
In a moment I would see,
Because there was no place to hide

As it arced into the air,
Its silence sang to me,
Chanting only it knew where
The murderous hit would be.

I had no thought of fear.
No prayers crossed my mind.
Although I hold life dear,
To my fate I held resigned.

Then the thunderous crunch
Threw me high into the air.
It had concussed me with its punch,
But all parts of me were there.

An arm lay torn across my throat,
Spurting blood into my eyes.
And I flinched at every piercing note
Of its dismembered owner’s cries.

I waited limply for the next one.
It would do no good to flee.
I’d just die tired if I tried to run.
Better to accept my destiny.

For hours death rained ‘round me.
Shredding bodies, sowing pain.
But death’s hand never found me,
And I lived to fight again..


By Carl Martin Johnson

Tell me, have we met?
Perhaps in a life long past?
I’m sure I’d not forget
If our love was meant to last.

Is that why I’m drawn to you,
Why I want to touch your face,
Why I feel certain that I knew you
From a past and distant place?

Look close into my eyes.
Are we together there?
Real love never dies.
It’s always alive somewhere.

I do not know your name,
Yet our souls have reunited.
Can’t you feel the growing flame
That has once again ignited?

Though we now have other mates,
That will not keep us apart.
We are prisoners of our fates,
Slaves to the love in our heart.


By Carl Martin Johnson

A cross stands sentinel over the ground
Where my warrior brothers sleep.
It guards well each sacred mound,
And will forever this vigil keep.

To their honor it was raised.
To their honor it will stand,
As long as they are praised
For defending this our land.

The grass is green around,
Watered by heroes’ blood.
Whose spirits make soft sound
Only by warriors understood.

Now some would topple this cross,
The comfort of those who fought.
That would be a terrible loss.
Freedom to raise it was hard-fought.

Would they attack, then come ahead.
Bring on their evil hordes.
If they insult our honored dead,
Their foul hearts will taste our swords.

There are things for which men stand,
Which tradition holds most dear.
This cross is on warrior land.
Our stand will be made here.


By Carl Martin Johnson

It flickered a brief spark
In the depths of a young man’s mind,
Then disappeared into the dark,
Along with others of its kind.

It incubated there for years,
Growing, becoming stronger.
Overcoming uncertainties and fears,
Until it could be held no longer.

The man now older wrote it out
To better contemplate.
As he did he lost all doubt
That the idea could not wait.

He discussed it with his friends,
They with many more.
There were improvements and amends,
But the original stayed the core.

Like a hot ember it set fire
To the kindling in men’s hearts,
Fueling such raging desire,
That, once lit, never departs.

The fire became a sun,
Guiding humanity with its light.
There was a great thing to be done,
Though it would mean a fight.

At last the thought’s great heat
Forged steel in mankind’s soul,
Made him more complete,
Gave him his fate’s control.

Then the man who’d birthed the thought
That held him so long enthralled,
Saw the idea real, if dearly bought.
And America it was called.


The Gift
Back Among You
I, Scribbler
Wind Follower
Sliding Between Dreams
Chance At Glory
Do I Know You
The Womb
Ode To The Cross At Mount Soledad
A Better Man Than I Am
The Thought Shared
The Boot
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