top of page

© Carl Martin Johnson, All rights reserved

In A Dream
The Idea

By Carl Martin Johnson

It exploded in my mind
Like the birth of a universe.
A burst of light where I was blind,
As if I’d shed some demon’s curse.

It soaked my brain in nurturing dew,
Causing growth in dormant thought.
I could distinguish false from true,
More certainty in what I sought.

It was too grand for words to fit.
I was hypnotized by its glowing.
Then it released me bit by bit
To absorb slowly its knowing.

A transfusion for my being,
The Idea bade me awake.
At long last I was seeing
The path that I would take.

Something deep within me bloomed.
What I had been was increasing.
My old self was being consumed
A finer thing in its place releasing.

At last the panacea!
At last I was set free.
I became the Idea.
The Idea became me.


By Carl Martin Johnson

Will you not join with us, friends?
Must we stand alone?
We are pursuing the same ends,
Our histories have shown.

Will you be behind us?
Or is that where you’ll hide?
When in danger you will find us,
So now fight at our side.

We share noble aspirations.
We must save them from attack.
If we are to protect our nations,
We must have each other’s back.

I know you have the heart.
You have been brave before.
Let us all now do our part,
Because the enemy’s at the door.


By Carl Martin Johnson

I am Pilate of the Samnite clan,
Of the noble family Pontii,
Wasting time judging a man
Who it seems wants to die.

He is accused of being bad.
In truth, his misdeeds are minor.
Though I grant the fool is mad,
A charlatan diviner.

Yet he has an air about him,
This scruffy Nazarene.
While I surely doubt him,
He faces me serene.

Well, I cannot waste my time.
On this Jew king of the meek.
I’ll rule him guilty of some crime,
And give everyone what they seek.

Strange how one of such low caste
Can seek such respect and fame.
Before his last breath is passed
There’ll be no memory of his name..


By Carl Martin Johnson

Ivan Slovak was a humble man,
With an unobtrusive way.
He was in bed as soon as night began,
And worked quietly by day.

His neighbors hardly knew him,
Though he’d lived there fifty years.
They’d give a polite “Good morning” to him,
Ivan would nod his “Cheers”.

It was said he once had a wife
No one was really certain.
Like all else about his life,
This was hidden behind a curtain.

For years I watched him come and go.
I lived across the street.
I never said more than “hello”
In a lukewarm passing greet.

I felt pangs of guilt at last.
Ivan seemed so much alone.
I felt I should do more than just walk past,
If only a friendly gesture shown.

I determined to knock on his door next day,
As soon as I got up,
To ask if he could see his way
To join me for a cup.

So I woke early and got dressed,
In a slightly self-righteous mood.
Certain that I would be blessed
For the inspiration I’d pursued.

I had reached my front yard gate
When I halted in mid-stride.
A black hearse said I was too late.
During the night Ivan had died.

I was the only mourner at the end,
Save the priest who said the prayer.
I promised Ivan I’d be his friend,
If he’d forgive me from up there.


By Carl Martin Johnson

Wichita Bill was a man of the law.
He roamed the West Texas plains.
Those who had ever faced his quick draw
Swore he’d rattler’s blood in his veins.

His brother was young, fierce and wild.
Like Bill, he was fast with his gun.
Bill had raised him since he was a child.
He was really more like a son.

But his brother killed a man in Fort Worth.
Shot him down in front of his bride.
From the moment of the young brother’s birth,
This fate could not be denied.

He ambushed the sheriff who chased him,
Left him in the desert to die.
Shot the two deputies who faced him
In the pueblo where he’d holed up nearby.

If he made it down to the border,
Where Texas and Mexico changed hands,
He’d escape all law and order,
In the lawless and wicked badlands.

Wichita Bill had prayed he’d be spared
His having to hunt down the kid.
It would be hard for a brother who cared,
To seek justice for what the boy did.

Death he was certain would come,
No holding back for their ties.
He would hear the executioner’s drum
When he looked into the guilty youth’s eyes.

On a dusty-hot Laredo street,
Hard destiny took life command.
They both knew the fate one would meet
By the quicker brother’s gun hand.

Wichita Bill was sure he would win.
He was swifter….had surer aim.
There was no doubt that he’d been
Justified in his gunfighter fame.

Bill was steel-eyed and grim.
The young brother risked a bright smile.
He was sure that it would be him
Who would be lying dead in a while.

Their pistols flashed like storm lightning.
Through the gunsmoke no one could see.
When it cleared, the sight was frightening.
The boy stood and Bill fell to a knee.

The kid grinned a cocky salute
Then he turned and mounted his horse.
Bill aimed, but he could not shoot.
It was a killing he just could not force.

The young brother waved one last goodbye,
Riding off to the edge of the town.
It looked like neither brother would die,
‘Til at the end of the street he went down.

Wichita Bill was a lawman.
He roamed the West Texas plains.
Now the legend of his fast draw, man,
Is all of Bill that remains.


By Carl Martin Johnson

I’ve reached a fork in life’s jungled way.
I must choose left or right.
One trail leads to joy and day.
The other to darkest night.

Which direction should I take?
I cannot wait much longer.
The decision that I make
Will make me weak or stronger.

One path does seem well-worn.
The other appears much less.
Since we are with some instincts born,
The well-traveled is the better guess.

I’m angry that I must decide.
The options are too few.
It truly does offend my pride
That life is telling me what to do.

I won’t be herded into a pen,
Even for my own good.
Nor told where to go or when.
I’ll blaze my own trail into the wood.


By Carl Martin Johnson

I swallowed the sun this morning.
I should not have yawned so wide.
It just jumped in without warning.
Now I’ve got Day inside.

It’s not pitch dark outside, though.
The moon and stars are bright.
What a truly wondrous show,
The magnificence of the night.

I’m busy digesting the sun’s rays,
Sending joy throughout my being.
My smile will last for days and days,
From all the happiness they’re freeing

Soon I’ll burp the sun back to the air.
I do not mean to steal it.
But you will see I kept a share,
Because my eyes cannot conceal it.


By Carl Martin Johnson

I met you in a dream last night
You never told your name.
Yet you made my heart take flight,
And set my soul aflame.

Your eyes were full of laughter.
Their joy near made me cry.
I was immune to hurt thereafter.
We were in Heaven, you and I.

I am writing this to find you,
Hoping you’ll see and come again.
I’ll be there, right behind you.
We’ll open the dreamdoor and go in.

This time we will not wake.
We’ll make the dreamworld real.
You’ll come alive for our love’s sake.
I know with you again I’ll feel.


By Carl Martin Johnson

Come, ye gods! Confront a man!
One that you created.
I will show you that my clan
Is what Life has awaited.

It was you who made me wise and strong
To overcome all odds.
I know now where I belong.
I am equal to you gods.

If you play with me, beware!
I am not your harmless toy.
If you challenge, I will dare.
I, too, can destroy.

I am the New World born,
Though bred of you, the Old.
First of many, I forewarn.
The New Men the stars foretold.


By Carl Martin Johnson

The artist is creating me,
Giving life with loving strokes..
He thinks that he’s translating me
From the passion his lover evokes.

Dutifully she poses,
Sitting still with half a smile,
As her paramour composes
In his trademark flowing style.

He is finishing my piercing eyes.
Look into them and see.
You will find to your surprise,
He is conceiving a real me.

He has more power than he knows.
I am become a living being.
I feel my own mind as it grows.
I feel the soul his brush is freeing.

In future some admirer
Will find our gazes meeting.
I will set his heart on fire
With love, though it be fleeting.

Untold numbers will feel desire,
Wondering at its start,
That a simple painting could inspire
Such response from the human heart.


By Carl Martin Johnson

Hello, Cloud. Don’t pass me by.
Let me dream on you awhile.
From your perch high in the sky,
Look down and help me smile.

Pass briefly over that bright sun.
Wash me in your cooling shade.
I’ll pretend my life has just begun,
No bad decisions made.

I’ll jump up to your soft white fleece,
Make a bed among your strands,
Rest my soul in your silent peace,
While you take me to magic lands.

Then gently float me back to earth,
Rested and renewed,
My mind cleared from the rebirth,
My worries all subdued.

After, you will drift away.
Clouds have things to do.
But I’ll be grateful for your help this day.
I’d have given up if not for you.


By Carl Martin Johnson

I am a tiger in the night.
Deadly here I lie in wait.
The enemy will soon feel my bite,
To flee my claws will be too late.

I lurk beside this jungle trail,
Face striped in darkening hues.
If my mission I am not to fail,
I must blend in and confuse.

I concentrate to slow my breath.
My loud heart they cannot hear.
I smell the sick-sweet scent of death.
He is standing very near.

My eyes are opened fully wide.
I dare not even blink.
I cast conscious thought aside.
A time for reflex, not to think.

I can hear them coming,
Whispers, boots on dirt.
My heart speeds up its drumming.
I’ll quick wreak grievous hurt.

Rivers of sweat flow down my face.
Mosquitos stab for blood.
What I’m about to do may God erase.
I would leave it, if I could.

To heaven a quick prayer
To be forgiven for my sin.
An ambush is not fighting fair.
But let the fight begin.


By Carl Martin Johnson

Where have all the cowboys gone?
They who gave our boyhood dreams.
The ones we saw with six-gun drawn
To thwart evildoers’ schemes.

Long and strong and kind,
Protectors of the weak.
Sort of men you could stand behind,
To fight those with an evil streak.

They talked when there was need,
Acted fast when words ran cold.
They had a cowboy creed
That made them honorable and bold.

Those cowboys, they were manly men.
Where are their like today?
Maybe they will come again.
Next time I hope they stay.


By Carl Martin Johnson

The fool believes in magic.
He feels beings he cannot see
Oh, how very tragic.
He’s not like you and me.

At night he watches fireflies.
He thinks that they are fairies.
What is seen by the poor fool’s eyes
And our sane eyes often varies.

The sun wakes him for a morning chat.
The moon tells him tales at night.
Of course, we don’t believe all that.
His head’s not on quite right.

Still, I envy him the smile he wears.
The fool’s world has no sorrow.
He ignores a sane man’s foolish cares.
I think I’ll be a fool tomorrow.


By Carl Martin Johnson

Dawn is knocking, golden red,
Chasing blue into the sky.
The sun will bloom when the moon has fled,
And the stars have blinked goodbye.

Out the window life begins
I feel its throbbing heart,
All its virtues, all its sins,
Every vibrant part.

The breeze carries in the morning songs
From early rising birds.
Music that to us all belongs,
Though we all hear different words.

I see all the changes,
From morning through the night.
The outside rearranges
From the darkness to the light.

One day I will get up from this bed.
I will join the world outside.
For now the window will serve instead
To make me glad I have not died.



By Carl Martin Johnson

She gazed into the light up high,
Sad her grandfather was gone.
He had told her she could cry,
Then to smile and carry on.

He would come to her if she got frightened.
He promised God would let him.
For a moment her child’s heart brightened.
She never would forget him.

She loved the wrinkles ‘round his eyes,
His smiles made them run together
To her he always looked so wise
With his face of manly leather.

When he threw her up into the air.
She felt that she could soar.
As long as he was always there,
She would ask for nothing more.

Forever just the two of them
Was all the family she’d known.
She would not let his memory dim
Now she was alone.

He’d prepared her for his leaving,¬¬
Though she couldn’t understand why
He was the one left grieving,
And she was the first to die.


I Am A Portrait
The Ballad Of Wichita Bill
Where Are The Cowboys?
Poor Fool
The Window
The Fork In The Trail
I Swallowed The Sun
Her Grandfather
bottom of page