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© Carl Martin Johnson, All rights reserved

Tasting Life

By Carl Martin Johnson

This is an ordinary breath,
One of many I have taken.
Will it be the last before my death?
Have I been forsaken?

All the others have pulled back.
I’m trapped here alone.
Soon the enemy will attack,
Then I’ll die here on my own.

But this breath is real.
It tells me I’m alive.
Though full circle has turned my wheel.
I will not long survive.

My nostrils inhale deep.
Life filling full each lung.
If I am soon to sleep,
Then let my song be sung.

This breath I will cherish.
I will hold it in with pride.
I will stand now and I will perish.
But my breath will know how well I died.


By Carl Martin Johnson

Sundown paints the clouds with flame
To ward off the creeping dark
That sweeps the light back whence it came
Until a new dawn strikes her spark.

The sun sinks low unwilling,
Leaving the world in dismal gloom.
Soon will come fanged hunters killing,
Bloody sharp-clawed slashing doom.

Nightbirds begin their evensong,
Serenading the twilight’s tide.
Vespers for the coming blackness long
Where evil things can hide.

Now they roam who fear the light.
They with dragon’s eyes.
Stealthy creatures of the night
Who rule ‘til the sun will rise.

But we who live in day
Watch sundown and prepare.
The dark demons who would slay
Should fear us and beware.


By Carl Martin Johnson

Your gown is made of starlight,
To mound and hillocks clinging.
Your charms there in the soft night
Set my ardent loins to singing.

I’ll find a gossamer cloud to bed you,
Smooth and gentle to your skin.
Over its white fleece I will spread you,
And let the angels watch our sin.

My hands are yours to serve,
My fingers fondling slaves,
Exploring every curve,
Preparing your body for what it craves.

I’ll turn you feverish with desire,
Suck the breath between your lips,
Set your sweet-oiled breasts afire,
Spread the flames down to your hips.

I will whisper in your ear
The secrets of my ardor,
Pressing my body near,
Ever closer, ever harder.

Soon we both will glow,
Burning blue-hot in our rapture.
Our lovemaking will grow
Into a beast too wild to capture.

When our lust at last is sated,
We’ll lie contented side by side.
And the love we’ve celebrated
The gods will look upon with pride.


By Carl Martin Johnson

I feel the dead around me.
The ones I left behind.
I smell their cool scent surround me
Seeping slow into my mind.

They smile and call me by my name.
Even dead they are my brothers.
They said I’d be welcome when I came.
I’d have a place there with the others.

I should have been beside them,
When they charged toward the Light.
It was my job to guide them,
Like I did down in the fight.

I asked them to excuse me.
It was my fate to live.
Death did not then choose me.
My brothers will forgive.

Soon we will all embrace.
Earthly battles will be done.
Together see God’s Face.
Our Final Battle won.


By Carl Martin Johnson

The mountain stood and looked at me.
He let me see his face.
He showed me what the world could be.
Stonehard but full of grace.

Lord of all below him.
King high on granite throne.
How few will dare to know him.
So he remains fierce and alone.

I looked into the mountain’s eyes.
They were golden, rimmed with fire.
They held truth, no room for lies.
The mountain will not trust a liar.

His gaze burned deep into my heart
To find if I was true.
Deception never was my art.
He told me what he knew.

He and I were one, he said.
With all we share a soul.
All the living, all the dead,
Make up the Divine Whole.

When we bleed, it is with all others.
Feel together joy and pain.
What we do to help our brothers,
Is also our own gain.

He said the world was growing.
It will evolve as we will guide.
The direction of its flowing
Depends on what we are inside.

I walked away in awe,
Hoping his wisdom I might share.
If I show others what I saw,
Perhaps we can learn to care.


By Carl Martin Johnson

I will not live an easy life,
Or die an easy death.
I want to feel life’s strain and strife,
And earn my every breath.

My pleasures will be well deserved.
I will live my life entire.
All its aspects I’ll have observed.
Known ice as well as fire.

Each event will make me grow,
Those of joy and those of pain.
All of life I want to know.
I’ll not have the chance again.

I’ll dive headfirst into the sea.
Ride fast on the shark’s back.
The fates will not catch up to me,
Will not fend off my attack.

I will not live forever.
No man is immortal.
But I will give my full endeavor,
Before I enter eternity’s portal.


By Carl Martin Johnson

It began as a soft fairy’s touch,
Lips in innocent attraction.
Not meant to lead to much.
Nothing like our fiery reaction.

Before our lips even met.
Something magic passed between us.
An ecstasy I can’t forget,
As if Life had suddenly seen us.

Into my lungs I inhaled deep
Your young breath’s flowered scent.
There I let it sweetly keep
‘Til I could not prevent.

I gave it back mixed with mine.
In sensuous rhythm sharing.
I felt something in us combine
Into a thing alive and caring.

We stopped then in shocked surprise,
Before we let our eager lips meet.
And still we did not close our eyes,
But watched the act complete.

Life’s heartbeat pulsed within us,
Feeding emotions yet unknown.
We could tell that what had been us
Was now greater; we had grown.

Our tongues leaped hungry to explore.
They caressed and intertwined.
Wanting, wanting, more and more.
Excited by what they might find.

You sucked my soul far inside.
We made love there and gave birth.
What we were before had died.
We were now of greater worth.

Our hot lips roamed free and entire.
Not a single part was missed.
We impassioned all with our fire
Until our whole body kissed.

Our fervor increased unrestrained,
Wild upon each other loosed,
Nothing held back, nor contained,
In the ardor we produced.

When at last we pulled apart
We were different, you and I.
We not only shared each other’s heart,
We saw the world through the same eye.


By Carl Martin Johnson

Life has different flavors,
Depending upon the day,
And the manner in which one savors
The events which come one’s way.

Vanilla is most normal
For day-to-day affairs.
Anything that’s informal,
With no need to put on airs.

If you feel a lover’s passion,
You’ll find chocolate on your tongue.
Mixed with strawberry is the fashion,
If it’s first love and you’re young.

Cinnamon a soldier senses
As he marches off to war.
As he angers in the trenches,
A tinge of mustard isn’t far.

And when you have arrived
At the end of life’s long stint,
In Heaven you’ll be revived
By the angelic tang of mint.


By Carl Martin Johnson

I am a mercenary soldier.
I hire out my gun for pay.
But I am getting older.
I must find another way.

No country gives me haven,
Though I have fought their wars,
Under leaders great and craven,
Under northern and southern stars.

There was a time when men like me
Were held in high esteem.
In ancient times of chivalry,
Would our silver armor gleam.

In the royal court of Charlemagne
We were called the Paladin.
It is sad to see what became
Of Knights-errant and our kin.

We were dragon slayers,
Searchers for the Grail.
Fair ladies mentioned us in prayer.
And swooned at our chain mail.

Now we fight in savage lands,
For whomever meets our fee.
We roam and kill in lawless bands
Like wolves who’ve been set free.

While in my dreams I am a knight,
On horse with shield and lance.
In the real world I’m damned to fight
In an endless, bloody dance.

I am waning now, bled out my youth
Crimson streams on foreign dirt
My many scars bear out the truth
Of all my pain and hurt.

This fight must be my last one,
For more I have no strength.
And the only fortune I have won
Is a grave just past my length.

So I will drink to ease my care,
While I toast a warrior’s prayer:
“Vive la morte! Vive la guerre!
Vive le sacre mercenaire!”

By Carl Martin Johnson

When I called, you came.
You stood with me ‘til the end.
Loyal should have been your name.
You were a faithful friend.

I watched your body grow weak,
But never your strong heart.
There was never a thought so bleak
As knowing we would part.

Those who say dogs speak no word
Have never looked into your eyes,
Or there they would have heard
Words of love without disguise.

Today I walk our trail alone.
Memories keeping my sad heart whole.
You were the dearest friend I’ve known.
May God take your gentle soul.



By Carl Martin Johnson

I looked out at the world today.
It was all fresh and new.
I want to run away and play.
But only if you’ll come too.


By Carl Martin Johnson

None of my sins are original.
The best I can do is copy.
Even when I try hard,
The results are usually sloppy.

Lust has always been my favorite.
At least since I turned thirteen.
I was the most sex-obsessed kid
The world has ever seen.

My problem is the women.
Those willing are hard to find.
Some say they wouldn’t sleep with me
If I were the last of all mankind.

Gluttony is tasty.
I love to eat my fill.
I cannot resist chocolate,
And I know I never will.

Greed is good, they tell me.
I like to have more than my share.
But if I have to sweat to get it,
That’s a price I will not bear.

Sloth, I believe, is my forte.
At this I am the best.
I would like to tell you more,
But first I need to rest.

Wrath? Yes, I lose my temper.
The reason is not always clear.
Except when I open the refrigerator
To find I’m completely out of beer.

Envy? Sure I got some.
‘Specially against Brad Pitt.
He’s rich and married to Jolie.
You can’t blame me a bit.

Pride might be my biggest sin.
Maybe even more than lust.
In fact, compared to other folks,
I leave them in the dust.

‘Course, for me, pride’s natural.
Probably not even a sin.
‘Cause I am a Texan.
And we’re the best that’s ever been.




By Carl Martin Johnson

I stand frozen here in history,
Bloody dagger in my hand.
How fate has worked this mystery
Only the gods can understand.

Caesar was my friend.
To him I was a son.
Now I have caused his end.
A great sin have I done.

My treason teared his eyes,
As his life leaked swift away.
The sounds of his surprise
Will haunt me every day.

My act I believed just.
He would call himself divine.
He had betrayed Rome’s sacred trust.
He should have heeded the oracle’s sign.

Caesar must, as must all men,
On some day fall and die.
But I would not do this thing again.
I’ve killed a better man than I.



By Carl Martin Johnson

It was the cross that caught my eye,
Broken and askew.
I would have passed on by
Had that not held my view.

Someone lay beneath the mound,
Under the rocks and dirt.
A desolate resting place he’d found
To escape this vale of hurt.

A man’s body fills this hole.
Perhaps a man like me.
A human mind, a human soul,
Now fled to eternity.

Days past he trekked this hard land,
Sweated under this hot sun.
This was not the end he planned,
For his life to come undone.

I think he did not suffer long.
He was blessed with going quick.
A friend was there to help him along
And scrape this tomb out with a stick.

Now held forfeit all he had in life.
Like most men, his deeds unsung.
All his pleasures, all his strife,
Unremembered into the cosmos flung.

I can almost feel his dying.
Feel his freed soul passing through.
It’s as if it’s me in that crypt lying,
To understand him like I do.

How do I know this man so well?
How do my thoughts and his combine?
How did I hear ring this man’s death knell?
I think this grave is mine.



By Carl Martin Johnson

In some green frogs there lives a prince.
Cinderella’s pumpkin masked a coach.
There are old, bent wizards with a special sense
That warns when dragons approach.

Many things there are that hide.
Don’t judge only by what you see..
There could be magic things inside,
Perhaps in you and me.


The Mercenary Soldier
Starlight Love
Death Of My Dog
I Feel The Dead
I Looked Out At The World Today
The Amateur Sinner
My Mountain
What Hides Inside
A Grave In The Wilderness
A Kiss
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