© Carl Martin Johnson, All rights reserved

 

QUIET VILLAGE
By Carl Martin Johnson

The village slept in the early dawn.
Only dogs and chickens stirred.
The night’s ghosts were up and gone.
New day sounds could just be heard.

Old cook smells and morning scents
Blended in a life perfume.
The villagers had no presentiments
Of the day’s impending doom.

The soldier lay concealed.
The jungle hid him well
From that leafy shield
He would unleash the hounds of Hell.

The enemy was sleeping in those huts.
They were bad and must be killed.
There would be enough spilled blood and guts
To keep Satan’s stewpots filled.

He wished that he could learn to hate.
The slaughter would be less painful.
But he was a warrior and it was too late.
Such weakness he found disdainful.

He and the others on the jungle fringe
Readied their weapons to fire.
They were about to begin a deathly binge
And risk all Heaven’s ire.

He heard an infant laugh awake.
Or maybe he was dreaming.
He prayed the guns would make the earth quake,
So he would not hear the screaming.

____________________________________________

SHADOWS
By Carl Martin Johnson

My shadow falls before me.
My body blocks the light.
I need the light to restore me.
To help me see what’s right.

If I turn ‘round the light will blind.
Its brilliance is so strong.
Then I know I’d never find
If what I seek is wrong.

There are shadows all around me,
Wherever there is light.
So many, they confound me.
Will I never gain my sight?

Should I stand in earth’s bare center,
The light will burn my head.
Though pure Truth may enter,
The heat would strike me dead.

A filter is what I need.
One made of love will do.
That would allow me to proceed
Toward the Light that’s True.

I will hunt for that screen.
I will look within my heart
It’s not something I’ve yet seen,
But I know where to start.

____________________________________________

THE FIRE
(for the anti-communist patriots of Venezuela)

By Carl Martin Johnson

It began as a tiny ember.
A young man threw a stone.
Now no one can remember
When that man stood alone.

The soldiers beat and jailed him,
But his spirit would not break.
His body may have failed him
His soul they could not take.

A few more took up the cause.
They rallied to his name.
The crowds kept growing without pause.
The ember grew to a flame.

The soldiers came again.
This time there was a fight.
The rebels did not win,
Though it appeared they might.

The flame had found new fuel
In freedom-loving hearts.
And the people came to duel
From the nation’s many parts.

The revolution became a roaring fire
Engulfing the whole land.
The people fed it with their desire
For the freedom they had planned.

The soldiers fled the burning wave.
Those who didn’t died.
The oppressor would be put in his grave.
Justice would not be denied.

They smoked the tyrant out.
They burned his reign to ash.
The despot’s hordes were put to rout
In a final triumphant flash.

Now the ember is a sun,
Warming the nation with freedom’s light.
The battle has been won.
Day has been torn from totalitarian night.

____________________________________________

OLD DOG RUNNING
By Carl Martin Johnson

I am called Old Dog Running.
I am Apache of Mescalero clan.
It is said I am a warrior cunning,
Though I am really just a man.

Soon our raids will end.
The pueblos are growing stronger.
We have fewer fighters to spend.
We will not last much longer.

I have lived long and seen wonders.
Watched the day burn with the dawn.
Heard the sky break when it thunders.
Now my life is nearly gone.

The Mexicans will kill,
The Americans will cage us.
We have little blood left to spill,
Though our enemies enrage us.

Many federales ride below me.
I alone will give them fight.
I will die, but men will know me.
Honored ‘round the fires at night.

O Great Spirit, I raise my spear!
Hear the words of my death song.
I leave this life I held so dear
To be with you where I belong.

____________________________________________

THE FAT MAN
By Carl Martin Johnson

The Fat Man he loved flowers,
Blooms of any kind.
He would look at them for hours,
In this garden, in his mind.

Their colors, soft or bright,
Brought joy into his day.
He especially took delight
In his roses’ smooth bouquet.

He was happiest in Spring,
When fields were overflowing
The beauty driving birds to sing,
Nature’s petaled richness showing.

Then there came a deadly blight.
No flowers at all could sprout.
He searched the world both day and night.
They were all gone without a doubt.

He could not eat, he could not sleep.
What was life worth without his flowers?
He fell into a depression so deep
That he cried and cried for hours.

At last exhaustion beat him.
He dropped, unconscious, to his bed.
But in his coma there came to greet him
Wondrous images stored in his head.

There was every blossoming plant he’d seen
In all his time on Earth.
All the colors, vivid, crisp and clean,
Every scent in full sweet worth.

What’s more, he could create his own,
New hybrids in great number
Far quicker than those awake he’d grown.
He’d found paradise in slumber.

No flowers survived in his world of waking,
But the Fat Man was not sad.
In the naps he was forever taking,
He had flowers, and was glad.

____________________________________________

 

WAKING AMONG THE DEAD
By Carl Martin Johnson

I raised my head and inhaled death,
It’s perfume all around me.
With care I took another breath,
To be sure death had not found me.

The battle smoke hung low
Acrid fog in the jungle clearing.
I heard the call of a scavenger crow.
Soon many more would be appearing.

I lay still…the horror froze me,
Yet elated too, at being alive.
Why, I thought, and who chose me
Of all these men to alone survive?

Using my rifle as a cane
I rose slowly to my feet.
There was blood, but little pain.
I felt neither victory nor defeat.

I surveyed the killing ground
Filled with torn and dead,
Wondering if the fallen had found
Worth for what they’d bled.

I held my scream inside
Gave my weapon a castoff push,
Thought a prayer for those who’d died,
And limped into the bush.

____________________________________________

 

COMBAT JUMP

By Carl Martin Johnson

 

I feel life coursing through my veins,
My mortality close behind.
Yet this is worth the risk and pains.
Fear weighs but lightly on my mind.

 

Below in the heavy jungle growth,
Hidden well, the enemy waits.
The god of war has claimed us both.
He controls our fates.

 

But now I’m in another place.
Far up, adrenalin high.
I look eternity in the face.
I stare into God’s eye.

 

This is a moment I would not trade,
Though in minutes I may die.
I will throw myself out unafraid
I am a warrior who can fly!

 

____________________________________________

DUST
By Carl Martin Johnson

Dust settled on the butterfly’s wing.
It loved the insect’s beauty.
Though the dust was not a thinking thing,
It felt instinctive lover’s duty.

Perhaps the dust was germ hard sneezed
From a sensitive angel’s face,
To help ensure mankind was pleased
By the world’s symmetry and grace.

Because when the butterfly took flight,
The dust was sprinkled ‘round,
Drawing attention to the sight
From the humans on the ground.

Twinkling powder fell upon their eyes,
Infecting with good taste,
Revealing the beauty in disguise,
That before seemed just a waste.

The people were amazed
To see such wondrous things.
They were laughing as they praised
The dust from butterfly wings.

____________________________________________

MY WORLD
By Carl Martin Johnson

My friends grew up around me.
I was the one who stayed.
The real world never found me
All my life I’ve played.

My days and nights are dreams
I live in myths and surreality
I ride on moondust and sunbeams
On a fool’s quest against brutality.

Dragons lurk in the dark places.
I chase them into light.
I obliterate their evil traces.
Sharper my sword is than their bite.

It may be true I’ve never grown up.
At times that’s how I feel.
I still play “good cowboy” like a pup,
Only now the bullets are real.


____________________________________________

IF I LOVED YOU
By Carl Martin Johnson

If I loved you I would wake
With your smile in my heart.
The first beat it would take
Without you would not start.

When I looked into the dawn,
I would feel you there,
Else I could not carry on.
I would drown in my despair.

When the fragrance of new day
Filled my lungs with your sweet scent,
I would fall willing prey
To my longing’s dear torment.

If I loved you,
All this would be true.
If I loved you,
And I do.

____________________________________________

ECLIPSE
By Carl Martin Johnson

The dark spread slowly over the earth,
Silky, liquid, borrowed night.
Stars peeked out thinking evening’s birth,
Tough there should have been daylight.

The sun drew the moon across
To quench her golden flame.
Was she mourning some great loss,
Or hiding her face in shame?

Confused nightbirds began to sing.
Insects joined the choir.
Squealing bats by hundreds took wing,
All for lack of the sun’s fire.

Then out peeked a tiny flare
From behind the lunar cover.
Just to show a shoulder bare,
Like a coquettish lover.

Her teasing sideways smile
Emerged in golden arc.
Signaling that in a while
Joyous day would wash the dark.

At last the sun, full bright,
Burst forth, reincarnated,
To warm us with her sweet light
And show the beauty God created.

____________________________________________

THE BEATEN AND THE DAMNED
By Carl Martin Johnson

We are the damned, the beaten.
We’ve been stomped into the dirt.
Our hearts Life has half-eaten.
We are too numb to hurt.

You see us on the street.
Our eyes betray our pain.
We share the aroma of defeat.
Our self-regard is pure disdain.

Once we were like you.
We held our heads up high.
That was before we knew
How Life can bleed you dry.

Yet we are living yet,
Beaten, but not done in.
Once a soul has paid its debt,
It can fight to rise again.

____________________________________________

THE FARMER
By Carl Martin Johnson

The farmer watched the setting sun.
His boy sat at his side.
Another hard day’s work was done.
Another night without his bride.

He kept her picture by his bed.
He would touch it before he slept.
But there were no more tears to shed.
It was months since he had wept.

She had been his first and only.
There could never be another.
He and his son would now be lonely.
They had lost a wife and mother.

She was living behind the sunset,
That’s what their boy was told.
He was too young to know the truth yet.
Still too young when he grew old.

She loved another more than them.
So she left one winter night.
But the farmer would not condemn,
Only hope she was all right.

They were a family, he and his son.
They would know love and joy.
They still had living to be done,
The farmer and his boy.

____________________________________________

WHISPERS
By Carl Martin Johnson

Hushed words flit past my ears,
Carried on gentle breezes.
This murmur of love and fears,
Sometimes frightens, sometimes pleases.

Light breathed kisses caress my skin
From memories’ nectared lips,
Reminding me what might have been
Had I sailed different ships.

Unseen wings pass over me,
Scented wisdom in their wake.
I learn more of what will be
With every breath I take.

I wish I knew the whispers’ source.
Should I trust them or beware?
Will they steer me on my soul’s true course?
Will I find my answers there?

____________________________________________

FAIRY SHIPS
By Carl Martin Johnson

Have you seen the fairy ships
That float upon the sky?
They will take you on magic trips
If you catch one passing by.

I have sailed with them before
To lands of charm and wonder.
Far from my home shore,
Over the lightning, behind the thunder.

It always soothes my soul,
Calms my worried mind
Restores the joy life stole
When my fate was unkind.

So fling yourself aboard.
It is not hard to do.
You will be restored,
For you can daydream too.

____________________________________________

 

COWBOY
By Carl Martin Johnson

He wore the hard land on his face.
It’s hot sun had burnt and lined him.
He sat his old mare with some grace,
For one with his best years behind him.

A revolver was holstered at his side.
He used it when there was need.
Cougars, rattlers and men had died,
When they sought to make him bleed.

Now he rested his mount at the canyon rim
Watching the setting sun paint it red.
Like his life, the day was growing dim.
Soon they would both be dead.

But Day would surely be born again.
While the cowboy would not rise.
His body was in a fight it couldn’t win.
He’d had his run…and everyone dies.

He’d seen tough times and good ones, too.
Loved ladies and drank wine.
Not much he’d wanted that he didn’t do.
All in all, things had worked out fine.

So he’d recall the best days and sit awhile
‘Til the stars came out to guide.
He touched his six-gun with a smile.
He had lived until he died.

____________________________________________

 

EMPTY TOMB

By Carl Martin Johnson

There is no one in the tomb.
The stone is rolled away.
From the time he left the womb,
The world waited for this day.

Now Mankind is something more.
He has set our spirits free.
We can be greater than before.
It’s up to you and me.

 

____________________________________________