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© Carl Martin Johnson, All rights reserved

The Empty Cave
Wake Me

By Carl Martin Johnson

Wake me when this life is done.
It’s been good, but now I’m bored.
Existence used to be great fun.
I need the adventure restored.

I hope Heaven is exciting,
Not just singing in some choir.
Or myself I’ll be inviting
To check out the Devil’s fire.

When I’ll die, they’ll wish me “Rest in Peace”.
I know they will mean well,
But I don’t want to sleep after I decease,
I’d rather go to Hell.

God is sympathetic to men like me.
He likes a challenge, too.
He know His Paradise I’d flee
If there’s nothing thrilling to do.




By Carl Martin Johnson

I saw the eagle falling,
Golden feathers from the sky.
Once graceful wings now sprawling.
Sad to see such a creature die.

There were no clouds…no lightning.
No obvious reason for his death.
The scene was eerie…frightening.
The sight turned cold my breath.

Then the grand bird hit the ground,
And the world burst into silent awe.
In that instant there was no sound.
Not a click of tooth or claw.

He was the emperor of the sky.
The proud master of it all.
But even great things die.
Even the mighty fall.




By Carl Martin Johnson


No one could tell where he slept,
Or took shelter on a rainy day.
But a punctual schedule he kept
When the weather was not in the way.


His clothing was tattered and worn.
Face and hands spattered with dirt.
His expression unchanging, forlorn,
As if frozen by unbearable hurt.


Foul odor announced he drew near.
Those near would give wider room.
He held not cleanliness dear
Which added to his aura of gloom


Until noons under the park’s old oak trees,
When his mouth opened and angels flowed out.
Then no one waiting for him to please
That he was by God favored had any doubt.


Arias, gold-toned and pure,
Enchanted the mesmerized throng.
Though they remained completely unsure
How such a man could sing such a song.


But while the ragged man sang,
The world was a happier place.
In the air his silver notes rang,
Painting joy on everyone’s face.


When he stopped the silence brief hung.
No one moved for a while.
It had reached their souls, what he’d sung.
All who had heard had a smile.


They only noticed he’d gone
After he’d limped on down the street.
Yet the music seemed to play on
In air perfumed and sweet.


‘Til one day he failed to come.
Left the people all waiting sadly.
Their expectant hearts grew numb.
They needed the singing man badly.


They moaned and they prayed and they cried.
Many went down on their knees.
Until they found that the song had not died.
Only now it came from the trees.




By Carl Martin Johnson


In the twilight glow I spied you
As you with your lover lay.
The bedsheets did not hide you
While you writhed in lovers’ play.


Once I was your desire.
You said I drove you wild.
We lit the night with passion’s fire.
We were both beguiled.


It was my fault you left.
I was the one untrue.
My sin was a terrible theft.
It stole the love in you.


Now I watch though it gives me pain.
I listen to your love screams.
I stand here in the rain,
Tears washing away my dreams.




By Carl Martin Johnson

They’ll come again before morning.
So, I’d better stay awake.
If I sleep, there’ll be no warning.
The lives of my platoon are at stake.

Still, it looks like we won’t make it.
The enemy are too damn many.
I’m not happy, but I’ll fake it.
Give my men hope when I don’t have any.

Tomorrow I’ll likely die.
I’m too tired to give a damn.
I’ll probably laugh instead of cry.
That’s just how I am.

I’ve got an hour or two.
I know I should be praying,
But that’s not what I’ll do,
In this short time I’ll be staying.

I’ll think up a happy day,
A lost sweetheart that I kissed,
A life before I went away,
Those to whom I’ll be missed.

Well, I left that a little late.
I see bad guys coming fast.
God give me courage without hate.
This thought will be my last.




By Carl Martin Johnson

I kept my poems in my heart,
Until you came along.
I was only guarding them on your part.
Your soul’s where they belong.

There each verse, a tender seed,
Will bloom into a dream.
Our sweet love is all they need
To both our lives redeem.




By Carl Martin Johnson


The vulture circled slow,
Waiting patiently for my end.
I waved to let him know
I had yet life to spend.


But my advice went unheeded.
I could see he’d stay around.
Sooner or later he’d be needed.
That was always true, he’d found.





By Carl Martin Johnson


Once the bell rings, it’s rung.
It cannot be unheard.
Once you sing your song, it’s sung.
Can’t call back a single word.


If you leap out of the plane,
Best hope your ‘chute deploys.
You can’t climb back in again.
Screams for help are only noise.


If you will enter the lion’s cave,
See you have a loaded gun.
Or you’ll be a meal, though brave,
Never mind how fast you run.


A loving heart, when it breaks,
Cannot be unbroken.
So do whatever it takes
To leave false promises unspoken.




By Carl Martin Johnson

At last I see you, soul of mine.
‘Til now you have been hiding.
You’re my part that nears divine.
Your time you have been biding.

I must have passed the test
To join the human race.
So, I will do my best
To keep you from disgrace.

I hope I won’t lose the animal charm,
Which I had before you came.
Let me keep it and I’ll do no harm.
If I do, I’ll take the blame.




By Carl Martin Johnson


What makes a simple man like me
A prisoner to the word.
I beg Heaven to set me free,
But my prayers go unheard.


Out and away they tumble and spill,
From open veins in my soul.
I shout “stop”…but they never will.
I have no control.


I can only try to guide,
Try to form them into meaning,
Find what the letters are trying to hide,
And that takes arduous gleaning.


But now and then I manage a smile,
Having made a thing of beauty.
In some small way, I am worthwhile.
I am a fool blessed with a duty.




By Carl Martin Johnson


The rainbow curved into the earth,
Brightly-hued arteries from God’s soul
Giving our grace-thirsty planet rebirth,
Making the parched land whole.



By Carl Martin Johnson


The man who lay here I saw die,
Yet, somehow, he is gone.
I heard the crowd shout “Crucify!”
I watched that cross ‘til dawn.


Some say he was a mystic,
Perhaps misunderstood.
Though it may sound simplistic,
I think he was just good.


I was passing by this cave
To tell his soul goodbye.
He was very brave.
Through all the pain he did not cry.


In case what some say is true,
That he was God as well as man,
I wanted to ask what I should do
To fit into his plan.


I wish him well, alive or dead.
Very wise were the words he preached.
They were good things that he said.
And me, at least, he reached.



By Carl Martin Johnson


I am haunted by a face.
Soft lips pressed on mine.
A passionate embrace,
Fueled by love and wine.


I can’t remember where.
I’m unsure of her name.
Yet something, I know, was there.
Sometimes I still feel the flame.


On stormy nights in my bed
She enters my mind unbidden.
A memory I thought dead
Remaining in my heart hidden.


But I lost her in the dawn.
I let her slip away.
I was sad when she had gone.
I should have begged her stay.




By Carl Martin Johnson


It is the journey gives delight,
More than the destination.
I enjoy the fight
More than the victory celebration.


It is the road that makes me strong,
Makes me fight for every breath.
Be my journey short or long,
I will not end with death.


The odyssey will endure
Beyond this mortal plane.
More exciting and more pure
Entering the Divine domain.


With both my body and my soul,
I’ll make the road a friend.
Because the voyage is the goal.
The journey is its own end.


By Carl Martin Johnson


I am a dream.
I am not real.
I am not what you see.


I only seem.
Not touch or feel.
I cannot truly be.


I am a mist.
I cannot hold.
I do not control.


I have been kissed.
But love was cold.
I do not have a soul.


One day he’ll wake.
The one who dreams me.
That will be my end.


I am fake.
Nothing redeems me.
I am just pretend.




By Carl Martin Johnson

The sound that came had a fiery taste.
It burnt my tongue to hear it.
But too soon the flavor was erased
Before I knew whether to fear it.

The vibration was around me,
Maybe warning, perhaps greeting.
It seemed to have searched for and found me
On a mission it was completing.

I think it was a word,
But I could not translate it.
Although I clearly heard,
I did not love or hate it.

The sound will come again.
I believe it has no choice.
I may understand it then.
It could be an angel’s voice.




By Carl Martin Johnson

In the long run Life may beat me.
May get mad and chase me down.
But I won’t let it cheat me.
Won’t let it make me frown.

My tongue Life will not still.
I will speak when words are needed.
Nothing will that freedom kill,
Though my thoughts may not be heeded.

I will muddle my way through,
Finding happiness where I can.
And love….I’d like that, too.
After all, I am a man.

In the long run I may fall,
But not without a fight.
In the short run I’ll have it all,
Before I slip into that good night.




By Carl Martin Johnson

She calls me in the night,
Tempts me with her ghostly charms.
I try, but cannot fight.
I must have her in my arms.

Her dark beauty resurrects me,
Fires my loins and heats my soul.
She sensually perfects me,
Makes my desires whole.

I pray dawn will never come.
For then my love will leave me.
Vanishing back where she came from.
More than death will sorely grieve me.

To other women I am lost.
Her seduction is complete.
For loving a phantom there is a cost.
Only for her will my heart beat.

So I go early to my dreams,
To await her siren song.
She comes clothed only in moonbeams.
She never stays for long.




By Carl Martin Johnson

The stranger walked into the town.
No one saw his face.
It wore neither smile nor frown,
Nor kindness or cruelty any trace.

He watched the people pass him by.
They all looked right through him.
But none escaped his searching eye,
Looking for what was due him.

Those he found burdened he relieved,
Took on their sorrow as his own.
Their sad weight of guilt he thieved,
Returning the innocence they had known.

In the night, he goes.
With Life’s hard wages being paid.
He’ll have collected what each soul owes,
Offering forgiveness back in trade.





By Carl Martin Johnson

I write the words that bring the tears,
Bring the laughter and the smiles.
Words that ignite our joys and fears.
Our celebrations and our trials.

Sometimes the words come like a friend
Whose love for me is real.
But that sweet caring flow can end.
Then I must hunt and steal.

I must seduce them, never rape,
If the words and I will breed.
Or our child-thought will escape.
I will have wasted my heart’s seed.

To that end, I’ll lie in wait
‘Til loving syllables come ‘round.
Then I’ll embrace them and we’ll mate,
Giving birth to a work profound.




By Carl Martin Johnson

The summer rain falls soft and warm,
Washing my hurt away.
I feel my wounded soul transform.
She brings me to life each day.

I am still in love with you.
That will never change.
At last, I love another, too.
Although that may seem strange.

She found me crying in the Spring.
Her kisses soothed my pain.
Now she wears my wedding ring
In the warm, soft summer rain.




By Carl Martin Johnson

She was perched on the barstool in a killer blue dress.
The sight blew my mind apart.
I felt sure I would die right then unless
She offered me her body and heart.

She rose with her hand raised to meet me.
She must have noticed my glance,
Because she smiled and whispered so sweetly:
“Buddy, you ain’t got a chance.”



The Eagle Falling
Haunted By A Face
The Joy Of The Journey
And Then He Sang
I Am A Dream
I Saw You
The Sound
In The Long Run
For You
The Vulture Circles
The Stranger
The Rung Bell
I Write The Words
Soul Of Mine
Summer Rain
Blue Dress
Prisoner Of Words
Rainbow I
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