WAR SONG  - The poems on these pages are dedicated to the "song" of human combat. The honor, the bravery, the sacrifice.....and the horror, blood and death. It is neither a glorification nor a condemnation of war. It seeks to give some insight into one of the major occupations of Man from the very beginning of humanity.         -Carl Martin Johnson

 

© Carl Martin Johnson, All rights reserved

 
 

FREE FALL
By Carl Martin Johnson

I am slicing through the atmosphere,
Arms held fast at my side.
I feel like a god up here,
But on a demon’s ride

I have a mission in the dark below,
But, for now, it slips my mind.
I’ll recall it before I land, I know.
It’s a recon of some kind.

I’ll wait long to pop my chute,
Near to ground as I dare.
If I’m spotted, they will shoot.
I’d be an easy target in the air.

I won’t think about that yet.
These seconds could be my last.
Better to just forget,
And enjoy this going fast.

This free-fall is my time and place,
Gliding free between Heaven and Earth,
No worries here, a state of grace,
Like I’m having a new birth.

I would hold these seconds if I could.
Make them my world entire.
Then I would always feel this good.
I’d have all that I desire.

Suppose I don’t pull the release,
Just keep flying into night.
My soul would breeze right into peace.
But, I can’t. I don’t have the right.

Other men depend on me,
On what I’ll see and find.
Until that’s done I am not free.
Well, maybe another time.

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THE NIGHT FIGHTER
By Carl Martin Johnson

The night fighter scanned the land ahead
While the moon passed between the clouds.
He thought of all the battle’s dead,
All his comrades wrapped in shrouds.

He saw the moon-drenched empty space.
It sucked him into the past.
He recalled a mother’s fond embrace,
A woman’s love that did not last.

He looked out past the sky,
To where ideas and souls are born.
Where you can look God in the eye.
Where there is no death to mourn.

His mind was free and clean.
His worries washed away.
It was a soul-enticing scene.
He wished that he could stay.

As he swam back to reality,
The line that reeled him snapped.
The cage of his mortality
Was gone, that had held him trapped.

The bullet had passed through him.
He neither heard it, nor felt the pain.
It was a new life now that knew him.
He would start to grow again.

His glow he saw float on,
A being heading for the Light.
He was warrior of new dawn.
No more a fighter in the night.

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WARRIOR SEED
By Carl Martin Johnson

Before the battle, plant your seed.
The best are those who die in war,
Leaving weaker men to breed,
And us a lesser race by far.

Choose a woman who loves a dream,
Who is as strong as you.
Not the skim milk, but the cream,
Though such women may be few.

Then you will be prepared to die
So that those you leave might live.
And they will know, though they may cry,
That you gave all you had to give.

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THE CHAIR
By Carl Martin Johnson

The chair rolled down the hill,
Travelling fast, but controlled.
Almost a military drill,
Or some maniac paroled.

He bent forward to add speed.
His scarf streamed back behind him.
He seemed fleeing some heinous deed.
Vengeful demons sent to find him.

Thoughts in the young man’s brain
Were speeding faster than the chair.
Bad memories will always remain
From what had happened there.

Yet happy images were winning,
Drowning those of blood and screams.
He was laughing, he was grinning.
Overcoming cruel dreams.

At the bottom of the slope
He turned a perfect pirouette.
He called up all his hope,
And yelled “I ain’t dead yet!”

“Bastards got my legs and feet,
Tore ‘em all apart.
But they ain’t got me beat!
‘Cause I still got my heart!”

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THE HERO
By Carl Martin Johnson

The medal gleamed so proudly,
Centered high on his left breast.
Fellow soldiers “hooah”-ed loudly.
The hero’s ego was caressed.

His sweetheart and mom kissed him
He glowed in their admiration.
Those who had once dismissed him,
Now joined in adulation.

Then the memory raised its head.
It bled his smile away.
Gave him visions of the dead
Who had fought with him that day.

He saw the blood and heard the screams.
He felt terror, not this glory.
Saw the killing that owned his dreams.
But he would tell no one that story.

He knew it is not for those that fight
That they give the decoration,
Rather for those who cheer despite
Sacrificing their children for the nation.

A tear escaped his eye
For all his fallen brothers.
Bad they had to die.
Sad for fathers and mothers.

To their memory and for their sake,
He would act proud of what he’d done.
Though inside his heart would ache.
He’d learned no war is ever won.

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THE PEACEFUL NIGHT
By Carl Martin Johnson

I lay in perfect silence,
My face toward the stars.
No thoughts of mankind’s violence,
No dreams of blood and wars.

I gazed up through the cactus
At the moon, pure white above
Decrying war skills I practice,
Wishing I could trade for love.

The enemy moved around me.
Searching to do me ill.
I know, had they found me
It would have been an easy kill.

But I asked the moon to blind them
To let them pass this night
That peace might for a time find them
And save tomorrow for our fight.

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MERCENARY, TREASURE SEEKER

By Carl Martin Johnson

 

Mercenary, treasure seeker,
Fighting small wars, hunting gold.
Growing weary, growing weaker.
I'll be dead before I'm old.

 

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CAEDES JULIUS
By Carl Martin Johnson

I conquered Gaul without a wound.
My blood remained inside.
Now I lie where I have swooned,
From daggers in my side.

I did not heed the omens.
They warned me of the ides.
But I, like all we Romans
Sail my affairs with fate’s tides.

My life is spreading red
On the Senate stone.
I know I am soon dead,
Adored in life, in death, alone.

I am only a man,
Quite mortal it would seem.
This was not my plan.
To be a god was my dream.

Cassius ended that.
It was he whose blade bit first.
And vicious words he spat
To lubricate his murderous thirst.

My head I covered with my robe
To hide my anguished face.
How hard the darts might probe
I would preserve dignity’s good place.

Three and twenty cuts I bore
From the assassins wild bloodlust.
While I fell silent to the floor.
Dying well, since die I must.

Only once did my lips part
“Et tu, Brute” with last breath done.
Love’s shaft sliced my heart,
For to me he was a son.

Of Caesars I have most renown,
Greatest Roman of them all.
Yet my enemies have pulled me down,
Gathering near to watch my fall.

The light is draining from my sight.
My end is here to greet me.
Will mankind celebrate my plight?
At the gods’ table will they seat me?
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THE WARRIOR’S LIVES
By Carl Martin Johnson

I was first slain in honest battle
Many centuries ago.
I heard my own death rattle
As my spirit was let go.

But no Heaven opened to me,
No place for my soul to rest.
Only a knowing that came to me
That I had been charged with a Divine quest.

I move from life to life.
Each time I die, reborn.
Enduring pain and strife,
My body ripped and torn.

I choose the side, but not the fight.
That is dictated by Fate,
But if there be a clear-cut right
To that I will dedicate.

Blood I see in rivers.
I hear men’s dying screams.
Bodies in death throe shivers,
While awake or in my dreams.

This is my Purgatory.
My purpose is to be learning
To end Man’s awful story
Of butchery, pillage, burning.

I am to find why my fellow man
Has need of those like me.
Then we can make a plan
Which will set my specter free.

We will make a way to live
So the bravest fight no wars
Rather use what they have to give
Leading Mankind to the stars.

When my blood flows again, vermillion,
Spilled by the very men I slay,
When the dead are near a billion,
I will beg God for that day.

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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 FOG
By Carl Martin Johnson

The rolling fog swept in to hold me.
Wrap me closely in its foam.
Like my mother-made quilt did enfold me
In my good warm bed at home.

The wool-wisp soaked up the sound.
Soft silence, and sweet peace.
The quiet fleece spread all around,
Covering the hill in God-sent peace.

I turn eighteen tomorrow.
“God willing” as they say.
But that’s time I cannot borrow.
Best to just enjoy today.

Soon they will come back to fight.
I will kill or die.
So I hold my weapon tight,
And let the time pass by.

I thank the fog for what it gave me,
If only for a while.
I know it cannot save me.
But at least it made me smile.

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HOPE
By Carl Martin Johnson

He looked up at the sky
Pale blue overhead.
Maybe he was not to die.
At least he was not dead.

The blow that had felled him
Left him shocked and in pain.
His wits would return, his agony dim.
He would rise to fight again.

He was down, not defeated.
Hope swelled his heart.
The day was not completed.
He could yet do his part.

As he rose to his feet,
His antagonist frowned.
This bruised man could meet
His best, he had found.

The man’s head held high.
Yes, bloody, but unbowed.
Not today would he die
For the ravenous crowd.

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BROTHER
By Carl Martin Johnson

He was ten, I was three.
He was a giant in my eyes.
A golden angel sent for me.
A hero, strong and wise.

On school days I would wait
For his bright yellow bus.
I’d run to meet him at the gate.
There never was a team like us.

He read me books and threw the ball.
He taught me how to bat.
He made me get up when I would fall.
I am grateful to him for that.

We hiked the woods when summer came
He would carry me on his back.
We searched for animals, wild and tame
And tried to find a dinosaur track.

Then he went off to war.
I waited, worried, for his return.
He was very far,
And I still had much to learn.

Now we’re lowering him into the ground.
Just his body, not his soul.
But without my brother being around
My world will not be whole.

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THE PALADIN
By Carl Martin Johnson

The Paladin comes lonely,
Arriving dark in summer night.
He is here for one thing only.
It is Evil he will fight.

He knows the One he seeks
Can take any form.
But he will protect the weak
Against the demon’s harm.

Paladin brings the Fire.
He also brings the Ice.
Lest you awaken his ire,
Think once, think twice.

Satan and his legions
Quake at Paladin’s name.
In all Hades regions,
They cringe in coward’s shame.

For he is God’s knight.
Dubbed so in His name.
And archangels aid his fight,
When he carries Justice’ flame.

Now his face turned to the sky
Silhouetted in the dawn.
He prays he will not die
So God’s battle can go on.

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THE SENTINEL
By Carl Martin Johnson

Outlined crisp against the sunset,
The sentinel stood his post.
Sharp eyes searching for a threat,
A tall, unmoving ghost.

He holds close his flint-tipped spear.
Clenches buffalo robe against the cold.
In the camp below all he holds dear
Lies in the valley’s fold.

The enemy comes in the night,
Burning, killing, raping.
His tribe had learned to fight,
Because there was no escaping.

This night there would be a moon.
The raiders would be prowling.
They might be coming soon.
Were those wolves in the distance howling?

He raised his nose to sniff for scent,
But the wind blew clear and clean.
Still, he would not become content.
They could come unsmelled, unseen.

As dark fell he spied a light.
One only keen eyes could see.
Just as quick it passed from sight
Like a flame that had jumped free.

He felt his lean muscles tense
Yet he held back the alarm.
His mind alerted every sense.
Out there rode those who’d harm.

He would hold and watch for now.
Might be another camp their prey.
But he knew there would be blood somehow
Before this night turned to day.
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