© Carl Martin Johnson, All rights reserved

 

MEXICAN RELEASE
By Carl Martin Johnson

They threw me out at dawn,
Beat up, but still alive,
Kick to my head and they were gone,
I was damned lucky to survive.

The early sun was in my eyes,
As I climbed up from the street,
Hearing the sidewalk vendors’ cries
While I struggled to my feet.

They did not call the federales.
I knew what that could mean.
I’d be found in the back alleys,
Or I’d never again be seen.

I could try for the village,
See if anyone’s returned
But after that kind of pillage,
Not much left that isn’t burned.

The border’s too damn far.
Besides, the narcos would like that.
I’d get shot by some two-bit czar,
Or torn up by a jungle cat.

I’d better start heading out of town.
They’ll be coming for me soon.
No sense feeling down.
Or falling into a goddam swoon.

I think I’ll try to hitch a ride
Then I may just have a chance.
No place ‘round here to hide.
Can see that at a glance.

Now I see two coming down the road.
They won’t try to do me here.
They won’t risk being showed
Killing a gringo out in the clear.

When they get close enough,
I’ll take them, at least one.
Shouldn’t be all that tough.
I’m pretty good, it could be done

Meantime, I’ll have a smoke
And curse the mercenary life I’ve led.
It’s left me all scarred up and broke..
Ha ha…no matter, I’ll soon be dead.

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ALONE
By Carl Martin Johnson

Is there only me?
Am I in this world alone?
Am I all there will ever be?
Only me and the unknown?

I cry out, but no one hears me.
I am frightened, but no one sees.
No one there who fears me.
Dear God, won’t you answer, please?

Who put me in this isolation?
Was it punishment for some crime?
Is it spiritual castration?
No soul-mate for all time?

Dark emptiness around me.
How I do I choose direction?
With no guiding aura to surround me,
How do I seek perfection?

Yet, I will not permit despair.
I will make my reason.
Should the universe be bare,
I will create a growing season.

There must be a God somewhere.
Or perhaps I‘ll have to be.
If so, I’ll take the dare,
And create eternity.

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I LOST SOMEONE
By Carl Martin Johnson

I lost someone today.
Someone I held quite dear.
We’ve each gone our separate way.
What we had is dead I fear.

Not all love lasts forever.
Some loves crash, some burn out.
Angry words heart bonds sever,
With a whimper or a shout.

Now I must endure the sorrow,
As many have before me.
Hoping that tomorrow
Will send another to adore me.

The memories will fade,
Though I hope they fade out slow.
The life together we would have made
We will with others know.

Our days together I will treasure,
The good moments and the bad.
Times of pain and times of pleasure
Leave me grateful, and a little sad.

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THE HEARTBEAT OF THE UNIVERSE
By Carl Martin Johnson


There is a throbbing in the world,
A heartbeat very strong.
Primal life force swirled,.
A chorus to God’s song.

The vibrations tune my soul,
Make it an instrument of its own.
My own music to control,
Triumphant trumpet to be blown.

The stars twirl to the orchestration,
Dazzling in the black night skies.
Spinning past in wild gyration.
Sparkling angels in disguise.

I am aware of my belonging.
The heartbeat is mine, too.
It fills me with a longing
To shout my song of birth anew.

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MY ONLY DAY
By Carl Martin Johnson


Today may be my only day.
I may have no more.
Tomorrow may not come my way.
Only dreams all the days before.

Yesterdays could be fantasies.
Time no straight line at all.
Rather a conjuring of my mind’s breeze.
Into a single moment of recall.

I will savor every minute.
Find experiences to taste.
Enjoy life and all that’s in it.
Let nothing go to waste.

Should in this one day trapped I be,
I will make it be complete.
It is still a whole life for me,
And its living still as sweet.

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LIFE WOKE ME THIS MORNING
By Carl Martin Johnson

Life woke me this morning.
I felt her warm caress.
She gave me gentle warning
Of the blessings I possess.

The sun above to warm me.
The rain to cool my face.
An angel so nothing will harm me.
God’s sweet eternal grace.

And with me all day long
Good thoughts and memories to keep,
Until night begins her song,
Rocking me softly back to sleep.

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THE PASSERBY
By Carl Martin Johnson

There was no great emotion
That burned inside his heart.
There was no cause or movement
Of which he was a part.

He followed simple rules.
No reason for introspection.
Deep thinking was for fools.
Life required no real selection.

Thus he passed his days.
No ecstasy, no sorrow.
He maintained dispassionate ways.
No thought about tomorrow.

Life swirled and swept around him.
But he avoided the strong pull.
No real passions found him.
Heart never broken, never full.

He viewed others with mild scorn
For risking strong emotion,
Consenting to be torn
Between detestation and devotion.

From time to time he felt the knawing
Of something hungry in his heart.
Yet he would not risk thawing
The frozen blood that set him apart.

He grew old and began his dying.
Small regrets began to form.
A thing deep inside was crying
For what would make his coldness warm.

One day the man died.
Leaving no one to miss him.
There were no friends who cried,
No loving widow to kiss him.

His soul hovered above the grave,
Unsure of its direction.
He had taken, while others gave.
It was too late for correction.

A passerby at Life’s celebration.
Never gave heartache a chance.
He avoided all negative sensation.
But he never had a dance.

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WHISTLE ALONG THIS WALK WITH ME
By Carl Martin Johnson

Whistle along this walk with me.
Let’s travel as a pair.
If you laugh and talk with me,
Where we’re going I won’t care.

I’ll brew a drink from happiness.
We’ll stay drunk on its wine.
Run naked in the sun’s caress,
And on moondrops dine.

At night we’ll find a star,
Make friends and talk ‘til dawn.
We’ll find out who we are.
Who we’ll be when night is gone.

Come on….time to go.
We have lots of things to do..
What exactly I don’t know.
I don’t care if I’m with you.
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A KISS GOODBYE
By Carl Martin Johnson

It was a simple funeral rite,
Quiet and sedate.
Her body lay open to the sight
Of those who chose to wait.

The priest finished with his prayer,
And blessed the soul departed,
Drawing a holy cross in the air
As the viewers’ exit started.

Those who farewelled were few
Nor were there any tears.
She was a recluse they barely knew
For all these many years.

There was a beauty in her face
That death had only enhanced,
A residue of feminine grace
Which once held men entranced.

Alone as she had been in life,
None who were there had seen inside.
Had she been someone’s loving wife,
Been a strong man’s beloved bride?

She and her story would be buried.
She would never be brought to mind,
Nor would the name she carried.
All her history left behind.

The church had emptied the small crowd
When a man entered, old and bent.
His gentle footsteps were not loud,
As quietly up the aisle he went.

He had removed his battered hat
To kneel and sign the cross.
Then he stood and gazed sadly at
His life’s greatest loss.

A tear rolled through the beard
Of his scarred, unshaven face.
All the sadness he’d ever feared
Was now centered in this place.

He reached out his calloused hand
To touch her fragile skin,
Wondering why life had not gone as planned,
Begging God to start again.

He bent his stiff back to kiss her.
They had loved and that was good.
Until he joined her he would miss her.
With God’s grace, she understood.

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THE MARBLE
By Carl Martin Johnson

The boy held it carefully in his hand,
As if it were free and living,
But it was completely at his command,
Obeying any order he was giving.

It would roll fast its clear glass sphere
If he shot it with his thumb,
Like a tiny crystal goddess’ tear
Dripped from wherever she came from.

If he brought it before his eye,
The world was upside down and small,
Like where people go when they die,
‘Cause souls don’t need much room at all.

But the magic about this crystal orb,
That his grandpa left to him,
Was that at a touch he could absorb
The love Grandpa left within.

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DREAM LOVER
By Carl Martin Johnson

You stand naked here before me,
Dripping moondrops from the sea.
You promise ever to adore me,
Long past eternity.

I have seen you in my dreams,
Here on the ocean shore,
But this night is so real it seems
That I have entered a new world’s door.

Let me stay here, never waking.
Let me touch your glowing skin,
My real life forsaking.
If this be evil, let me sin.

I will lay you on the sand,
Cover your nakedness with mine.
Dream Lover, take my hand.
We will create a world divine.

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THE LAGGARD
By Carl Martin Johnson

He was a day behind his brothers,
His pace as hurried as the pain allowed.
He was not a seasoned fighter like the others,
But he would make his mother proud.

The injured foot dragged along behind.
By the rock it was deeply split.
He banished the agony from his mind.
No Spartan boy would quit.

The heavy weight of his sword and shield
Slowed his forward plans,
But he could not arrive at the battlefield
With only his bare hands.

This would be the boy’s first fight.
He was determined to do well,
To put the Persian horde to flight.
To send Sparta’s enemies to Hell.

At last he reached the bordering crest.
He gazed into the pass below.
The heart sank in his warrior’s breast
When he saw the gruesome tableau.

His brothers lay foully slaughtered
A ragged circle on the ground
In the red mud their swords had watered
From felled Persians all around.

Tears filled the young hoplite’s eyes
As he bellowed a war cry,
Raised his face up to the skies,
Calling Aries as his ally.

Charging like a mad bull down the hill
At Xerxe’s milling horde,
He struck hard and made many a kill
Before himself put to the sword.

And he knew as he lay dying
That he was immortalized that day,
His warrior bravery complying
With Spartan honor at Thermopylae.

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TEMPTRESS NIGHT
By Carl Martin Johnson

Night folds her dark blanket ‘round me,
Strokes my forehead with her soft hand,
Calling her creatures to surround me,
Witness to her plea they stand.

She tells me of her desire,
Her fervor to make us one,
To pull me into her cold black fire,
Hide me forever from the sun.

We are alike, she tells me.
Down deep I am like her.
It is her darkness that compels me.
With her demons I confer.

“Be my lover”, she implores me.
“Stay with me forever.”
She swears that she adores me
Until the twelfth of never.

I resist, but it is sweet temptation.
There will come a time when I give in,
Even though I know it means damnation,
And retribution for my sin.

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THE SHIP OF LIFE
By Carl Martin Johnson

I saw her sails, brilliant white
Against the deep blue sky.
To me it was a troubling sight,
Though I could not determine why.

I stood at the very end of the pier,
Watching her move to sea.
Inside I shed a shameful tear
That I let her go without me.

I spied silver dolphins in her wake,
Curling high as she sped away.
Although the water was smooth as a lake,
And there was no wind that day.

I should have been aboard, I knew.
I let her sail without me.
There were others feeling the same way too
Among the sad souls standing around me.

But I held great terror of that sea,
While admiring those who braved her.
Yet in spite of the fear she held for me,
Deep in my heart I craved her.

The ship was out past my swimming range.
The risk beyond my daring.
My timid heart would not change,
In spite of my despairing.

So the Ship of Life sailed away
On Being’s Endless Sea,
Leaving weak souls like mine to stay
On the shore of Eternity.

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THE PAST
By Carl Martin Johnson

The Past comes looking for us.
We seek escape, but cannot hide.
The walls we rush behind are porous.
The Past can see what is inside.

He forces us to bear him,
Though he can be a heavy load.
And our guilt makes us wear him,
Adding struggle to Life’s road.

Our sins are in his keeping.
He has our failures stored away.
He will drive us oft to weeping
On an otherwise happy day.

He hurts our friends and lovers,
Revealing actions we regret.
Constantly threatening, he uncovers
Secrets they had not discovered yet.

Sleep gives us no respite.
The Past infiltrates our dreams.
He is a cruel and wily despot,
Dulling the shine of all that gleams.

Only with the Future can we defeat him.
We must arm ourselves with Hope.
Then charge out to meet him,
Bind him with Forgiveness’ rope.

Then allow the Past to teach us,
But his prisoners refuse to be.
Let Tomorrow in to reach us.
The new day’s promise will set us free.

All the days that we have bled,
Keep their memories, but hold them fast,
For the Past is never dead;
It’s not even really past.

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