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© Carl Martin Johnson, All rights reserved

Butterfly Ride
Death's Arms
By Carl Martin Johnson
We trip over Life,
And fall into Death’s arms.
We take Hope for a wife,
Seduced by her charms.

Too late that we see
That the party must end.
And alone then are we,
Only Death as our Friend.



By Carl Martin Johnson


I stand looking from the trees,
Machete in my hand.
They would drive us to our knees,
But it will not go as they have planned.


Los narcotraficantes swooped down.
They attacked us in our sleep.
They want control of our town,
The riches of our forests to keep.


It was our women who hit back first.
Brave in the face of death.
For sweet justice they had thirst,
Willing to fight to the last breath.


Nosotros hombres, they inspired us.
We attacked the evil men.
Yet though our old war gods fired us,
The cartel came back again.


Here only criminals have arms,
So we must fight with our tools.
The Federales ignore our alarms.
To them we are poor fools.


Our government cannot aid us,
Perhaps bribed to look away.
I swear by God Who made us,
My countrymen will rise up one day.


Now the struggle is more simple:
We fight to stay alive.
Against those who take our forest, our temple,
Without them our tribe cannot thrive..


Purepecha is our name.
We are mighty in peace and war.
The ancient Aztecs knew our fame
We were respected wide and far.


Tonight, here with my brothers,
Machetes in our hands,
We will drive out the others.
We will end their greedy plans.


Should I die in this fight,
Should my soul be set free,
Sing my death song at night,
That my people remember me.




By Carl Martin Johnson


Great and holy things are lonely.
Who stands above must stand alone.
Their closest friends are themselves only.
Solitude is all they’ve known.


The eagle soars above all others.
He owns the high zone of the sky.
Other animals are not his brothers.
They flee in awe at the eagle’s cry.


The full moon rules in a robe of white,
Her brilliance inspiring wonder.
She oversees the domain of the night,
And all that basks in her light under.


Her sibling light, the sun,
Is fiery lord of day.
He shares his sky with none,
And burns shadows from all in his way.


Of men, there are they
Who lead in our advance.
But, when Life’s music starts to play,
It is alone they dance.


It may be God once was lonely,
Great Author of the Divine Plan.
Perhaps it was for that only,
That God created Man.




By Carl Martin Johnson

I am a man of violence,
But not a violent man.
I attack those who would harm you,
So their blood is not on your hand.

I police your streets and watch your homes.
Wars against your enemies I fight,
So the rest of my beloved countrymen
May sleep secure at night.

At times you hail my courage.
You say my actions make you proud.
Yet, deep inside I give you thoughts
You will not say out loud.

Very few of us are called to kill
To save what they hold dear.
So, I know beneath your praise
Lies an undertone of fear.

To be a warrior is natural to some,
Those who are born for combat.
We do not condemn those who are not.
Still, we are different, we know that.

When we seem to think away from most,
Please try not to despise.
You see things one way, but we are seeing
Life through a warrior’s eyes.



By Carl Martin Johnson

We fought for years in the hills.
The only moisture our blood and our sweat.
Every day more wounds and more kills.
Carnage that I’ll never forget.

When at last we found we were winning,
We advanced on the capital gate.
Though our ranks had been constantly thinning,
We won the day through courage and hate.

The dictator’s head was our prize,
And we set up a People’s Committee.
We felt we were terribly wise,
Lording over farm, town and city.

It was all too soon that we found
Simpler it was to fight than to rule.
Many who would govern were around.
But hard to find one not a fool.

We chose one “el supremo” after another.
On and on in an endless chain.
Every one sparks of freedom would smother.
And they held we who fought in disdain.

For the people, each time we deposed them.
Shedding blood and spilling our own.
As to the people, we never opposed them,
In spite of the corruption they condoned.

I grew disillusioned, disgusted
Carrying the people’s ungrateful load.
I found my people could not be trusted
With the responsibility I had bestowed.

Makes me sad that my work has been wasted.
Is there any meaning to the life I have led?
If nothing else, much of living I have tasted.
My rest I’ll have earned when I’m dead.

I will leave this land tomorrow.
Let my people find their own way.
My heart is filled with sorrow,
But it will break in two if I stay.



By Carl Martin Johnson

Anger, come and feed me.
I have Hate, but I need your fire.
These Roman scum will bleed me
Of all I have entire.

They sack our homes and fields.
They kill our children, rape our wives.
Yet their swords and shining shields
We will defeat, though we lose our lives.

Vengeance, Hate’s bloody brother,
Come, ride upon my spear.
I am a warrior like no other.
These Romans will pay dear.

Through the trees I see them.
Red cloaks bright and eagle high.
Spirits from bodies, I will free them,
As, crying to their gods, they die.

We are Arverni, tribe of fame.
Where I stand is Arverni land.
Vercingetorix is my name.
Today Romans die by my hand.





By Carl Martin Johnson

What I thought was laughter
Was the death-rattle in your throat.
There was only silence after
Death’s music final note.

Your eyes are wide,
Yet do not see.

You need no longer hide
In this hole with me.

The shells still burst.
Shrapnel shrieks overhead.
But you have died first.
They can’t kill you any more dead.

I may join you soon.
If they come again, I’m gone.
Now I see the moon.
I doubt I’ll see the dawn.

Don’t hold it against me, brother,
That it was me who took your life.
If not me, would’ve been another.
We’re engaged in mortal strife.

Did you have those who’ll miss you?
I guess you probably did.
Some girl who lately kissed you.
A wife? Maybe a kid?

We don’t look much the same,
But still we are both men.
This war must take the blame
For both our “might have been”.

I wish I had not shot you.
‘Course, then you would’ve shot me.
I guess when war has got you,
It’s just what has to be.

Damn! That burst just played the Devil’s tune!
The shrapnel cut in deep.
Looks like I’ll join you soon.
Then we both can sleep.

I’ll be right behind you.
So, maybe you can wait.
I’ll hurry up and find you,
Just this side of St Pete’s Gate.




By Carl Martin Johnson

I took a ride on a butterfly’s back,
High over land and sea,
In search of all the things I lack
To make a better me.

I first noticed a small brown tortoise
Moving slowly straight ahead.
His determination and purpose
Would stand me in great stead.

On a pebbled northern lakeshore
I saw animal enemies thrive.
Drinking together, bear and boar,
Tolerating each other that both might survive.

There was a squirrel gathering food,
Stocking up against the cold.
That small rodent is very shrewd,
His thrift is wisdom to behold.

In the river floated a crocodile,
Ignoring boyish taunts.
He had a wise, self-disciplined smile,
Not reacting until he wants.

Then I landed on a flower,
That what I’d seen I might digest.
I concentrated hour by hour
On how to absorb these virtues best.

The will required I have lack of
To instill these things in me.
Instead, I’ll just increase my love.
That’s easy as can be.


By Carl Martin Johnson

You will not see me cry.
My sorrows all be damned.
My eyes, though saddened, will be dry,
Despite the trouble with which I’m slammed.

The deep, dark pit of melancholy
Would my poor soul devour.
Should I surrender it would be tragic folly,
Carrying me lower by the hour.

I will not hide in lamentation,
Nor expose my weakness in prayer.
That would be my manhood’s abdication.
God has trusted me with my own care.

Alcohol is a frightened man’s tonic,
And that form of refuge has its price.
The cost it demands is cruelly demonic.
Only a fool would seek its comfort twice.

So, I will bear the gloom with strength,
Find the courage to carry on.
This night will have a finite length,
And, after the darkness, comes the dawn.


By Carl Martin Johnson

The jungle night was silent.
The death smells fresh and strong.
The wet air tasted violent.
The battle had not been over long.

The black paint on his face
Ran sticky with his sweat.
He looked out at the killing place.
The battle was not over yet.

Torn bodies scattered the clearing,
White clown-faced in the platinum light.
No more war sounds would they be hearing,
Wandering ghosts now in the night.

As he slid quietly through the underbrush,
He could feel them passing near.
Fleeing spirits whispering in the hush
Farewells to those held dear.

On the far side of the field
There was movement, half-hid light.
The enemy did not yield,
But they would fight no more tonight.

Tomorrow he would be killing.
Tonight he wanted peace.
Come day it could be his blood spilling,
But tonight the bleeding would cease.


By Carl Martin Johnson

I will kiss you soft and deep.
I will make you moan.
I will find the lust you keep,
And mix it with my own.

We will rise on Passion’s wings,
Arch our backs and touch the sky.
Feast on all that Eros brings
In answer to our cry.

And when at last we are gorged,
All our energies so willingly spent,
The amorous chains our loving has forged
Will bind us close in sweet torment.

For we will never quench our fire.
The undying spark soon grows to flame.
A raging bonfire of desire,
Hot as the love from whence it came.


By Carl Martin Johnson

He was a man of gentle temper
Until they took his wife away.
They said she stole a loaf of bread
On the eve of Crispin’s Day.

The constables came and beat her.
He fought, but to no avail.
Then they put her on a prison ship
Bound for New South Wales.

He watched the vessel sail.
He saw his love in chains.
Had he owned a pistol,
He would have blown out his brains.

He walked slowly back to London,
Keeping all his pain inside.
He had lost the will to live.
The spark within had died.

He lay for days on his pauper’s bed,
Seeing dreams that had now gone bad.
Children in a home that would never be.
And he went slowly mad.

Then he slept a dreamless sleep.
When he awoke he had a plan.
It was hard, but short of murder,
He was not a violent man.

He ate a hearty breakfast.
Soon only gruel he would be fed.
And marched down to the criminal court,
Where he hit the magistrate in the head.

He was whipped ‘til death was close.
Incarcerated without bail.
And sentenced to a term of life
In the colony of New South Wales.

The captain thought him quite insane,
For he smiled the long, hard trip.
But the convict was heading for his love
Aboard that dreadful ship.

He would find her in the antipodes,
Where they would build a life,
There, in the sunburnt country,
The convicts, man and wife.


By Carl Martin Johnson

All endings have beginnings.
All beginnings have their end.
Sometimes our cards bring us winnings,
Sometimes the dealer’s not our friend.

Time can bring us sadness.
Time can bring us joy.
But let it not bring madness.
Never be Time’s toy.

Now the year has gone.
It cannot be redone.
At least we carried on.
Regrets? Let us have none.

A glorious New Year beckons,
Seducing with its hope.
Its day, its hours, its seconds,
All have happiness within their scope.

Be glad for what Life dealt,
Cards of joy, or cards of pain.
You were alive and felt.
You may not pass this way again.


By Carl Martin Johnson

A little child sailed off one night,
Sailed off in a wooden shoe.
Away on the River of Crystal Light,
Into the Sea of Dew.

She set the sails for angels’ breath,
And steered her course by the sun.
She would outrun the gale of death.
Life would be the prize she won.

Night fell, and white whales cleared her way
Illumed by the moon’s silver glow.
Sleek happy dolphins by the hundreds at play
Kept a guard in the sapphire-blue water below.

Then the little eyes closed and she slept,
But she yet travelled safe and secure.
A careful watch the angels kept
Over this creature so loving and pure.

When the child awoke and opened her eyes,
She was embraced by a perfumed gold mist.
Her ship floated softly on a cloud in the skies,
And God’s lips were those that she kissed.




By Carl Martin Johnson

There is no one to catch me if I fall.
I am free, but my freedom has a cost.
There is no one to heed my call,
If I cry out that I am lost.

I pay this price to be a Man.
These are my dues for being free.
I have my say in this Life’s plan.
For mistakes I blame only me.

On the highwire I walk Life.
Both wins and losses are my call.
The thrill of danger is my wife.
There is no one to catch me if I fall.





By Carl Martin Johnson

I sing the body human.
The chalice of my soul.
For every man and woman,
Lifewine sparkles in its bowl.



After The Darkness
Night Recon
The Loneliness of Holy Things
Man Of Violence
A Man Of Gentle Temper
The Endless Revolution
New Year
A Gaul's Anger
A Child's Voyage
Death's Laugh
No One To Catch Me
The Body Human
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