WAR SONG  - The poems on these pages are dedicated to the "song" of human combat. The honor, the bravery, the sacrifice.....and the horror, blood and death. It is neither a glorification nor a condemnation of war. It seeks to give some insight into one of the major occupations of Man from the very beginning of humanity.         -Carl Martin Johnson

 

© Carl Martin Johnson, All rights reserved

 
 

SAME SOLDIER
By Carl Martin Johnson

Same soldier, different war,
Although the dead are just as dead,
All the killing we abhor,
Ground just as soaked from those who bled.

Same soldier, different face,
Millions of them, with recycled souls,
Brought back from a special place,
Called forth from dead veterans’ rolls.

Same soldier, different scar,
New weapons to tear him apart,
He returns to bear a war,
Because only warriors have the heart.

Same soldiers, different survivors,
Loved ones of those who died,
Following the black hearses’ drivers,
Crying softly at graveside.

Same soldier, wars never-ending,
Forever he fights and dies,
Warrior soul created for defending,
His prayers are battle cries.

______________________________________________

HONOR THE WARRIOR
By Carl Martin Johnson

It is Warrior’s blood that waters the seeds
Of freedom for the rest.
Pay homage to the Warrior’s deeds
When you put him to the test.

If you send him in harm’s way,
Be sure the cause is just.
He is the one who’ll pay,
Should you betray his trust.

Politicians, you take care.
Do not use him for selfish ends.
I caution you….beware.
Make not enemies of your friends.

On ideas are great nations founded.
Ideas are the roots that nourish.
But only when by brave men surrounded
Do civilizations flourish.

Therefore, honor your Warrior’s worth.
With him your fortune lies.
He allowed your country birth.
Without him your nation dies.

______________________________________________

MY GHOSTS
By Carl Martin Johnson

I flung my daydreams into the night.
They have grown too haunting.
I am weary of the fight.
The images are too daunting.

My memories have their own lives.
I’ve lost all control.
They dwell in a place where horror thrives,
In a dark part of my soul.

The sad songs of war,
The shouts, the screams,
Have driven me too far,
Have hijacked all my dreams.

Visions of maimed and dying
Fly by in crimson red.
My grief is beyond crying.
I long for peace among the dead.

Ghosts swirl all around me,
Of those I loved and those I killed.
Their emptiness has found me,
And it never can be filled.

______________________________________________

 

THE LAST SPARK
By Carl Johnson

I saw the last spark in your eyes,
Your last bit of living.
I knew in a moment you would die,
Your wound was unforgiving.

That spark was a gathering of your soul,
Getting ready to move on,
Bringing all your pieces together whole,
Insuring none of you was gone.

I saw your being in that spark,
All of you that was unique.
What you would carry into the dark,
What we who follow you will seek.

Then I saw it slowly fade,
Like an ember losing heat,
Falling back into the shade,
Where Man and God will meet.

And I hugged your lifeless form,
Though your spark of life had flown,
Knowing I could not keep you warm,
Where Death’s cold shadow has grown.

You will go now to the Light,
Where your spark becomes a flame.
For you there is no more night.
You are back from whence you came.

I will come close behind you.
Save a place for me.
I promise I will find you
In that great Eternity.

______________________________________________

THE OLD MAN
By Carl Martin Johnson

His walk was a little slow,
From a bullet that clipped his shin
In a battle long ago.
A fight he did not win.

The leaves had begun to fall.
Their colors pleased his eyes.
And the thought that, after all,
There can be beauty when a living thing dies.

He gazed outward, but focused in
On the memory movies in his mind,
Watching his life begin,
And continue to unwind.

There was sadness, not a lot.
Joy had mostly ruled his years.
He himself had called every shot
That had brought him smiles or tears.

A fine woman had come his way.
Now gone on before him.
He was amazed to this day
Why she did so adore him.

“The past is not really gone,” he said.
“It’s not even past.
It hovers right above our head.
Its tentacles tie us fast.”

This was his final autumn stroll.
He would sleep soon, long and deep.
He had not reached every goal.
Still, he had no cause to weep.

Life had been an adventure sweet.
Each risk had made him grow.
Made him strong enough to meet
The new adventure he would soon know.

______________________________________________

MACHETE
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.

______________________________________________

EL CID
By Carl Martin Johnson

Ride, great warrior of Castile,
Roderigo of noble birth,
Let the Muslim horde taste your steel.
Sweep the foul foe from the earth.

Viva la Reconquista, Campeador!
Long live the new Christian Spain!
Drive out the curse of the Moor,
And let the Cross once again reign.

The barbarians are at the gate.
You, Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar,
Must strike before it’s too late.
Show, even dead, how brave you are.

You have fought for the Prophet’s kings,
As well as those of Christ Lord.
But now your seraphim sings,
Calling you to Heaven’s reward.

In shining armor you ride.
Your hero corpse mounted full well.
Sending the Almoravids running to hide,
And those who remain straight to Hell.

Spain will remember your name.
El Cid, El Campeador.
Live forever in glorious fame,
Great conqueror of the Moor.

______________________________________________

BADLANDS
By Carl Martin Johnson

The badlands suck dry a human soul.
They are barren, unforgiving.
Those men who escape whole
Are no longer full of living

He had run until he dropped
His pursuers far behind, he thought
This was the first time he had stopped
Since the battle had been fought.

His canteen was dry
After two days on the run.
He knew he would soon die
Under this infernal sun.

The night came and he slept
Until awakened by a warning sound.
He grabbed the rifle that he’d kept,
Rising quietly to look around.

The stars gave reluctant light,
Yet enough for him to see
That he was in a desperate plight.
Over the rock camped three enemy.

He lay still until the dawn,
Praying they would go,
Afraid to risk moving on.
Any sound would let them know.

Suddenly he jerked upright,
Eyes wide at fiery pangs.
Twisting off in the soft twilight
Was the wielder of the fangs.

He had no time to nurse it.
The enemy had weapons drawn.
He could only curse it,
Knowing that his life was gone.

A bullet tore into him
As he raised his rifle to fire.
The hot lead burned right through him.
Mortal wound had it been higher.

He squeezed the trigger as he fell.
There was one enemy less.
The other two let out a yell,
Charging at him in distress.

Over the rocks the others flew.
They tore the rifle from his hand.
Then the pistol that he drew
Blew another of them to the sand.

The last knocked the gun away
And kicked the runner in the face.
But when he poised his bayonet to slay,
A knife had taken the pistol’s place.

The long blade slid past the short,
Steel kissing steel, promising death.
The dagger slipped under the enemy’s heart.
The runner smelled pain on his breath.

The attacker slid to the ground,
Propped against the boulder at his back.
His look of horror was profound,
His vision growing black.

The runner found his gun
And aimed it at his foe.
But he saw the killing had been done.
There was no need for another blow.

One horse was tethered still.
The runner limped over to its reins.
He thought to ride away until
He recalled the venom in his veins.

He circled back around the rock,
Looked at the young enemy’s wound.
For a moment he took stock.
The boy might survive if helped soon.

The horse was lame and the badlands deep.
The rattler’s poison surging to his heart.
One of them his life would keep
One of their souls would sure depart.

They did not speak, no common tongue.
Yet they both understood.
The runner was old, his enemy young.
Who would have time to do most good?

For an eternity their eyes embraced.
They were closer then than brothers.
A changed future now both men faced.
Fate both their father, but spawn of different mothers.

The runner lifted the younger man,
Secured him on the mount
Sent him off to find God’s plan,
To keep drinking from Life’s fount.

Then he sat and watched the rising sun.
The last that would ever warm him.
Soon, when the serpent’s poison won,
Nothing in this life could harm him.

The badlands would claim a kill today,
But no victory complete.
One life had ridden on its way.
Man was too hard to beat.

______________________________________________

 

STAND
By Carl Martin Johnson

Stand….let no man move you,
If you are in the right.
Unless they can disprove you,
Stand, and bear the fight.

We know evil often wins
Because the righteous are too weak
To condemn atrocious sins
That afflict those who are meek.

Fight those who would destroy
What you know is good and just,
Or your children will not enjoy
That which you hold in trust.

Far easier to move aside,
Avoiding battle’s pain,
To have so little pride
That the tyrant keeps his reign.

Cowards are by man and God abhorred.
Be not so despised.
A brave man is by all adored,
His courage highly prized.

Be of the brave…of that bold guard
Who serve as Paladins.
Keep enemies of truth forever barred.
Shield your people from the despot’s win.

Stand with your brothers, arm in arm.
Phalanx against Satan’s whim.
And if the Father tells you to disarm,
By God, stand up to Him.

______________________________________________

QUIET VILLAGE
By Carl Martin Johnson

The village slept in the early dawn.
Only dogs and chickens stirred.
The night’s ghosts were up and gone.
New day sounds could just be heard.

Old cook smells and morning scents
Blended in a life perfume.
The villagers had no presentiments
Of the day’s impending doom.

The soldier lay concealed.
The jungle hid him well
From that leafy shield
He would unleash the hounds of Hell.

The enemy was sleeping in those huts.
They were bad and must be killed.
There would be enough spilled blood and guts
To keep Satan’s stewpots filled.

He wished that he could learn to hate.
The slaughter would be less painful.
But he was a warrior and it was too late.
Such weakness he found disdainful.

He and the others on the jungle fringe
Readied their weapons to fire.
They were about to begin a deathly binge
And risk all Heaven’s ire.

He heard an infant laugh awake.
Or maybe he was dreaming.
He prayed the guns would make the earth quake,
So he would not hear the screaming.

______________________________________________

 

GUN RUN
By Carl Martin Johnson

No moon tonight…that’s good.
Just got to worry about the noise,
Even in this coyote neighborhood,
‘Cause these four-wheelers aren’t quiet toys.

I’ve got her packed real tight.
No chance the weapons will come loose.
If I lose this load tonight,
My neck’s in a goddamn noose.

I always worry on the border.
Not so bad when I get across.
This side has got some order.
In Mexico the gun is boss.

I waited too long in that bar,
Shipment ran late from San Antone.
My contact point’s too far
To arrive with me alone.

We’ll need these guns to fight.
The federales let us down.
The cartel owns the night
In the forest ‘round our town.

With these guns, we’ll have a chance.
No more machetes alone.
Now when the bastards want to dance,
The music will have a balanced tone.

Got wet at the river ford.
Don’t think it hurt the ammunition.
Said a prayer to the Lord
It’d get across in good condition.

I see headlights up ahead.
Nobody uses this dirt track.
If it’s the bad guys, I am dead,
But I’m sure not turning back.

I’ll pull off, turn out my lights.
There’s a chance they haven’t seen.
This kind of night these desert fights
Can be messy, hard and mean.

They stopped, but come again.
I think they might’ve found me.
I could run, maybe I’d win.
But there’s open desert all around me.

Hell, my weapons are brand new.
Might just put one to the test.
Show these punks what I can do.
See which of us is best.

Too bad there’s not a moon.
I’d like to see it, just in case.
Anyway, I’ll know real soon
If tonight is my last race.

______________________________________________