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© Carl Martin Johnson, All rights reserved

The Coward

By Carl Martin Johnson

I am caught fast in Life’s riptide,
Pulling me from the Light.
I use all the strength I have inside,
But I am struggling in the fight.

I could let the current take me.
Close my eyes and drift along.
But then my honor would forsake me.
I must remember to be strong.

I will stroke hard against the flow,
Toward the glowing on the shore.
What I need is there, I know.
As a man it will make me more.

I may weaken. I may drown.
Never will I stop trying.
Nor will the world hear my soul
In cowardly despair crying.




By Carl Martin Johnson

White moonlight poured over the earth.
I raised my face to drink.
I felt the sweet elixir’s worth
As it taught me how to think.

I cast away old convictions.
I saw that they were wrong.
They came with many restrictions
That were keeping me from my song.

Then a low cloud crossed the moon,
Making a shadow in its light.
And the earth grew a living tune
That wound ‘round me in the night.

It whispered that no words
Would help me find the Way.
The music must be heard
And my soul set free to sway.

My verses are no cure
For the knowing that I seek.
I need something far more pure.
My words are much too weak.

I must feel the angels’ wings.
Hear their song that is not sung.
Find the peace God’s Opera brings,
Composed in a wordless tongue.

The cloud moves, but I have learned.
I am closer to the Knowing.
This lesson has been burned
On a spirit that is growing.



By Carl Martin Johnson


I kiss her in full heat,
Yet, her lips they have your taste.
My swollen loins she’ll soon deplete
Though my passion is misplaced.


You are lying with another man.
Your bodies sweating as they entwine.
Who knew when our affair began,
We would drink vinegar with the wine.


He is making you convulse.
You are human…cannot hold in.
The writhing feeds your racing pulse.
All the stronger for being sin.


The woman I hold makes me move.
Wild beasts, she and I mate.
Like you, it seems I want to prove
As well as love, I can make hate.




By Carl Martin Johnson

In the distant black I see it,
An atom glowing, nothing more.
Far out, beyond my reach.

If there be God, could this be it,
Out on the edge of Infinity’s shore?
Come to learn, or come to teach?



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.


(To the Fort Hood dead of April 2, 2014,

and their families)
by Carl Johnson

Death comes knocking early at my door,
To take me to the ball.
I’ll always want a minute more,
Or perhaps not go at all.



By Carl Martin Johnson

I float within the storm,
Bolts of lightning for my bed.
Not cold, nor am I warm
Between the living and the dead.

I am safe inside the cloud.
Its turbulence is my friend.
Its thunder rocks me loud,
Comforting rhythm without end.

The outside world is soft.
It suits others, but not me.
I stay here high aloft.
The storm’s chaos sets me free.

Soon it will spit me from its maw
Into the bright realm of the sun
Where there rules another law
That may well see me undone.



By Carl Martin Johnson

I have journeyed now for many hot days
And cold nights over desert sand.
I pray the star that leads me stays,
Or I will be lost in this strange land.

My wife woke me when it first appeared.
The sky was near day bright.
The world’s ending is what we feared,
So fiery was the night.

Then it dimmed to a golden coal,
Still far brighter than it’s brothers.
As if it had taken complete control,
Directing all the others.

It was not long before I lost my worry.
I sensed a silent command.
The stars light was bidding me hurry.
Something marvelous was at hand.

I heard rumors of a king
From a merchant passing through.
Therefore a gift of myrrh I bring
To give royalty his due.

Yet, it is more, I feel,
As I travel through the night.
Perhaps this birth will our world heal,
Take the wrong and make it right.

And I, Balthasar by name,
Will witness this event.
I will forever be glad I came
To see the raising of God’s tent.



By Carl Martin Johnson


We are bright starlight
Golden fire
The cosmos is our Mind.


We are souls in angel flight
God’s desire
The highest of our kind.


We have Heaven sight
And with Holy Ghost conspire
To seek that which only Man can find.




By Carl Martin Johnson

Like a whisper across my ear,
Her touch a secret passed.
It said she held me dear,
And prayed our love would last.



By Carl Martin Johnson

My words will not stop evil men,
But my bullets will.
My verses only condemn their sin.
My rifle will the sinners kill.

Shall I leave off foolish verse,
Wasting paper with my rhyme?
With poems too weak to coerce
The villains from their heinous crime?

Rather my sword shall cleave my pen.
More blood than ink shall flow.
I will unsheathe my blade, and then,
I will slay them blow by blow.



By Carl Martin Johnson

I once knew a coward.
Cold fear held him in chains.
What should be man’s blood was soured,
Something weak ran in his veins.

His eyes he kept downcast.
Shame disfigured his face.
He drew disgust from all he passed,
As if he were a subhuman race.

At day’s close he watched the sunset.
He felt safer in the night.
The dark would hide him from threat.
It would protect him from the fight.

Somehow he found a lover.
Better said, she found him.
She thought she could discover
Value, though odds were slim.

He loved her in his way,
As much as a coward could.
He prayed that she would stay.
In his life she was the only good.

Then one day the tyrant came
Seeking sacrifice for his god.
A beauty for the offering flame
While cruel men applaud.

He hid when they came to take her
Despite her despairing cries.
In disbelief she watched him forsake her,
Scurrying away from her accusing eyes.

Slaves dressed her in silk garments
From her head down to her feet.
In this finery she would meet the torments
That her soft skin soon would greet.

That night he lay in wonder
That could exist such scum as he.
Was he some horrid blunder
That the gods did not foresee?

He could not be so weak, he thought.
Surely, he was, in part, a man.
There must be a way redemption bought.
A decent part in this life’s plan.

He slunk guiltily to her cell door,
With no thought in mind at all.
The guard slapped him to the floor,
Laughing as he watched him fall.

He whimpered, begging on his knees
To give his wife a last embrace.
The jailer spat and found his keys,
With repulsion on his face.

In her cell alone, they made no sound
Until time came for her to flame.
When the guards seized her arms they found
The coward’s face hidden in his shame.

Slipping past them, flew the coward’s hood,
Unworthy face still hid.
The veiled sacrifice now understood
That she must do as she was bid.

The figure stood tall, bound to the pyre.
Dark eyes all that could be seen.
They showed no terror as acolytes lit the fire.
In fact they wore a prideful sheen.

Those closest to the altar,
To the human offering blazing
Heard their sadistic cheering falter
At a sight they thought amazing.

The silk wrap burned, leaving a rift
Revealing a smoldering beard.
The lovely woman wrapped as a god’s gift
Was something else they feared.

The coward smiled and felt no pain.
His love had made him brave.
He thought of the life his wife would gain.
And the memory of him she would save.

Inside the heart of every man
Lies a hero buried deep.
With love’s touch he always can
Be awakened from his sleep.



By Carl Martin Johnson

In a moment, on this gallows we will die.
Our lives ended, save for tales they tell.
We have always been like brothers, you and I.
Now together we will face the gates of Hell.

You send a crooked smile my way.
You do not lose your courage at the end.
We always knew might come this day.
I’m glad we go together, my good friend.

It is not for our crimes we are hung,
Although of those there have been many.
If ever our song is sung,
It will not celebrate our villainy.

For we found a thing at last,
Maybe late, though we’re not yet twenty,
That saved us from our evil past,
And filled our empty souls with plenty.

Bad luck the redcoats caught us.
Tried us both as spies.
It’s where our fate has brought us,
For being General Washington’s eyes.

We will win this war, I know.
These colonies will be free.
A strong nation will grow.
Ha, friend! Too late for you and me.

We are trading our sorry lives
For a life we hold more dear.
A land where freedom thrives,
And only tyrants need have fear.

So, I smile back, my trusted friend,
While the noose slips o’er my head.
Today our story will end,
But our nation will never be dead.



By Carl Martin Johnson

At first it was only a dim glow.
A corona behind dark hills.
As he moved nearer it seemed to grow,
And it gave the traveler chills.

Beyond the rocks his village spread,
The lands that held his farm.
Frightening thoughts entered his head.
Had his family come to harm?

Exhausted from his hard, long hunt,
He still found energy to run.
Unslinging the deer carcass with a grunt,
He readied his long gun.

The hill he conquered with giant strides,
Until he stood atop the mound.
Reaching deep within where hope abides,
He sought to bear what he had found.

Below him stretched, like coals of Hell,
Burning embers, shooting flame.
What dragon had laid such fiery spell
Over the place from whence he came?

He cried out in forlorn despair,
Fell, crying, to his knees.
Silence answered in the death-filled air,
And the horror of what he sees.

All are dead, his wife and son,
His village and his clan.
There is nothing to be done,
But seek vengeance when he can.

Now he stands and shouts an oath
To his gods and to his kin.
He will avenge, he swears to both,
And build his tribe again.

But first he will bury his dead.
He will give them their last rite.
Then he will take each enemy head,
And make them curse this night.



By Carl Martin Johnson

Kiss me, Death, but soft.
You have waited for me long.
I have thought of you, and oft.
The love we share is strong.

You are the key to the locked door
Which I must soon pass through.
There a fresh life to explore,
An existence bright and new.

I stand ready for your embrace.
Come, find me in the night.
Let me gaze upon your face
As you take me from the fight.




By Carl Martin Johnson

I am studying all the parts of me
To see which I like best.
I’m going to keep a few, you see,
And dispense with all the rest.

Why feed me all, head to toe,
When I’m mostly just a waste?
It’s not smart ecology, you know,
As well as in poor taste.

Okay, let me start:
I guess the ears can go.
Most things I hear these days
I really don’t want to know.

If I lose my nose, I won’t smell
The politicians odor.
Then by my smile you can tell
I’ll be the happiest American voter.

My big mouth next, and my tongue.
The way I use them is rarely wise.
They’ve caused me grief since I was young,
And will lead to my early demise.

I think I’ll keep the eyes.
I like looking at the ladies.
Though their effect on a private part I prize
Is a certain ticket to Hades.

My legs carry me to things that harm.
I could be better off without.
To pick up bad things I use my arm.
Both those should go, no doubt.

My brain is full of silly dreams.
For thinking I hardly use it.
The best thing to me it seems,
Is to take steps to defuse it.

With all this paring down, you see,
My “carbon footprint” will be less.
Sure, there’ll be little left of me.
No matter, I’m a mess.

But then, there is the pain involved.
Hmm..I just had an inspiration:
My whole problem could be solved
If I just wait for reincarnation.



Under A Moon Cloud
The Night Fighter
The Gallows
The Raid
Death Comes Knocking (To The Ft. Hood...)
Inside The Storm Cloud
The Magus
The Parts Of Me
Kiss Me Softly, Death
My Words Will Not Stop Evil Men
We Are Starlight
Her Touch
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