The Saga of the Gods of Mars
John "Bridge" Martin
Beset by bleak despair and 'neath the skies of ever gloom,
John Carter for a decade trod the pathways of Jasoom,
Until, at last, in misery, he found his final room,
As friends laid him to rest inside a strangely fitted
The iron door was closed; the special latch was notched
While inside cold and still he was presumed in death's
The lock would only work within that lonely, silent space,
And dead men do not twist a latch nor stir from out their
Before that day he'd often stand, his armed raised in
And then they found him, still and cold, the end of his
And while that body soon was laid inside the stone and
The real John Carter wore a body that could move and
He'd climbed the stellar stairway through the space beyond
By some strange paradox, John Carter didn't really die.
He went back to the planet where his loyalties did lie,
And sought to find the one who'd captured more than just
Her name was Dejah Thoris, princess of the Martian race,
Whom he had found when he was drawn to Mars through outer
He'd fought to save her life, and won a victory in that
But unexpected doom had torn him from her sweet embrace.
The Martian atmosphere, controlled by one remote device,
Had failed, and all Barsoomians soon would be as cold
John Carter had the key to set things right in just a
And saved Barsoom, but in the process had to pay a price.
The lack of air had triggered something strange within
And as he gasped for breath the Cosmos played a little
It sent him back to planet Earth, his earlier domain,
And there for ten long years he'd been required to remain.
But now he's back on Mars -- but what an odd place he
The lawn was neatly trimmed; it seemed a place of some
But then he saw some green men who had little chance
When suddenly attacked by beings hideous in sight.
There were white apes and the Plant Men of the mystic
Who leaped upon the green men who had reached the Korus
And as those brave ones realized they were walking through
The Earthman grabbed a slain one's sword; John Carter
went to war:
His battle lust was flaming; he lit'rally saw red,
He swung his sword arm back and forth and Plant Men's
blood was shed
One green man fought beside him; the others now lay dead,
And as some more attackers charged, that last green warrior
"We may at least die fighting, and as great warriors should."
He spoke the name "John Carter;" the earthman understood.
'Twas his old friend Tars Tarkas who now, beside him,
Make this last battle to the death go down as something
Then moved they to the nearby cliff to make their final
Discovering there a hollow tree from whence to wield
But lo, they found within an unexpected saving sight:
A ladder set inside the tree went up the giant's height.
Ascending up the ladder in the tree which stood so tall
They came unto an opening and there they didn't stall;
Taking greatest care lest they should step awry and fall,
They went out on a limb to find what lurked beyond the
"Where are we?" asked John Carter. Tars replied, "The
"Where pilgrims float the River Iss to live forevermore.
"But now we know the truth behind the legend and the
"This isn't quite the heaven that those folks were hoping
Down a darkened passage, then into a spacious den,
A mocking voice came, laughing, saying they'd soon be
From out of nowhere banths attacked, they slew one, two,
And finally Carter realized they came from a hidden pen.
The portal opened; Carter saw a sinister tableau
And quickly stepped within to face an all-too-human foe
"Now you die," the villain said; they battled to and
Until John Carter swung his sword and laid the Martian
"Look out behind you," cried a maiden shackled to the
Another charged to battle him; John won, and watched
He grabbed the key and freed the lass, who had the wherewithal
To get them back into the place where Tars was in a brawl.
Within the outer cavern, Tars Tarkas stood his ground;
His flesh was cut to ribbons as more banths were circling
He smiled as John Carter, rejoined him with a bound;
As they prepared to kill some banths, the girl let out
A single Martian word she uttered peremptorily;
The banths all turned toward her, and then, implausibly,
They slunk in mass submission to her strange authority,
And she led them 'cross the chamber and through a cavity.
The girl returned and asked the Earthman just who he might
"I'm John Carter," he replied. "Perhaps you've heard
She recalled that Therns had weighed the Martian mystery,
Of where he was for ten long years since setting Barsoom
The Therns, who were her captors, were a cruel and hateful
Who lived above the Valley Dor, and to their great disgrace,
Those who escaped the Plant Men found the Holy Therns'
And they would soon be slaves, or worse, within that
They came upon a Thern who had a higher-ranking gig;
'Ere he could holler an alarm, sweet Thuvia said, "Die,
So saying, she aimed true her gun and quickly pressed
John stripped the body of its gear and donned the yellow
To flee the mountain citadel, the trio had the will;
Freedom drew them on although their struggle was uphill;
Thuvia, John Carter and Tars Tarkas had the skill,
But odds were stacked against them and they had no time
With help of Thuvia's pets, the banths, they finally saw
But Thuvia looked above and uttered out a mournful cry!
The fierce Black Pirates of Barsoom had come like Samurai
To grab some female fodder for cruel Issus' slave supply.
The Pirates battled Therns across the fort-like mountain
Their flashing swords caught moonlight in the bloody
While here and there a pirate from the Therns a female'd
And take her to a flier as they worked to fill their
The fliers! Carter spotted them and led his Martian pair
To a handy Martian flier which could scoot them through
But only two could ride it so John Carter, with a flair,
Sent Tars and Thuvia off while he did battle, solitaire.
The Pirates circled Carter with intent to drop him dead;
But John espied an airship as it passed by overhead;
With earthly muscles Carter leaped and saved, as by a
He clung unto the anchor rope suspended from its bed.
Hand over hand he climbed the rope until he reached the
A pirate there took aim at him but Carter got a grip;
He flung the pirate off the craft to take a fatal dip,
And then he saw a captive girl, a pretty little slip.
He freed the girl; she grabbed a gun to help him kill
'Cause others left on board the ship would try to kill
But Carter's sword and Phaidor's gun soon proved that
they would do,
And only one was left, whom Carter quickly did subdue.
Phaidor was a beauty but possessed an evil tang;
She certainly embodied both the yin gene and the yang;
A little like a vampire, without an obvious fang,
No wonder! She's the daughter of the chief Thern, Matai
The captive's name was Xodar; his rank was prince, or
He had the build and prowess of a Roman gladiator;
He said his race was best on Mars, there were no people
And they were called the First-Born of their Tree of
While he talked, John Carter listened with an open mind,
But Xodar saw his pirate friends approaching from behind;
At last the silent airship was strategically aligned;
John Carter tried to get away but soon he was confined.
Aboard the Pirate battleship, they headed to the pole
The mountains and the valley of the Otz were down below,
And as they journeyed south, the land was whitened by
And then at length the ship into a darkened gulf did
It seemed at least a thousand feet across that giant vent;
The blackness soon engulfed them as they started their
The ship turned on its running lights, its vision to
And then at last they saw an ocean vast in its extent.
But Phaidor had one other thing that occupied her mind,
She fancied this John Carter, and for his love soon pined;
But John told her that Dejah was the one his heart enshrined;
Phaidor, angered, seethed with rage; she’d now an ax
Nor Phaidor nor John Carter, had thought that there could
A hidden land of people, let alone a mighty sea;
As it dropped, the aircraft's fittings were adjusted,
So it could float the water like a basking manatee.,
Across the bay the craft did speed where other ships were
At last they docked and got a ride on a little submarine;
Xodar marched them to the court of Issus, wicked queen,
Who called herself a Goddess, but was a thing obscene.
Those allowed to look upon her "holy, radiant face,"
Saw as many wrinkles as a doily made of lace
Her yellow fangs and hawklike nose were nothing commonplace,
Her sunken eyes made it appear she'd cuddled with a mace.
Then Issus learned that Xodar had been bested by John
And even though that state existed temporarily,
She busted him to private and decreed from now on he,
Would be the slave of Carter -- a virtual nobody.
And what of pretty Phaidor? Issus thought she had some
That could serve her as a chamber slave, but only for
Issue kept slaves just a year, but then -- the bitter
They were condemned to suffer with a death that was so
Though made into a lowly slave, proud Xodar stood erect,
As fellow pirates, former friends now showed him disrespect
One, named Thurid, Carter with a right hook did connect,
And in the twinkling of an eye the mocking black was
Xodar and John Carter were then taken for a sail
To the isle of Shador, and imprisoned in a jail.
Carter checked the structure out, missing no detail,
And found asleep in another cell a stalwart Martian male
Soon awake, the young man told the saga of his fate,
And of the boldness in his genes from his father, late.
The young man's looks and manners did somehow indicate
Something so familiar that made John contemplate.
Then guards showed up and told the prisoners it was time
Issus had decreed it was the day to have a show.
John Carter and the younger man were taken then in tow,
They soon would be in combat against foemen after foe
It was the big arena where the games of death were played;
And first John Carter saw some lovely ladies were displayed;
They were the ones who served a year and on whom Issus
Unless some mighty hero could arise and give them aid.
John Carter was that hero; this couldn't be allowed;
He downed his guard and grabbed a sword and shouted right
"To arms! Arise you servants, and be no longer cowed.
"Let's make them pay for what they've done; do all your
The pris'ners shouted out and charged, while slaves up
in the stands,
Knew it was now or never for them, too, to make a stand.
Many First-Born died that hour as slaves their fervor
But pirates finally won the day; the prisoners were outmanned.
Issus fled a secret way but John saw where she went,
And he with his young friend both had the same exact
They quickly followed after her, as Issus made descent,
But found themselves inside a darkened dungeon of cement!
Then heard they Issus cackle; she'd locked them in a cell.
"You're going to die right there," she said, inside a
But John's companion said to him, "This isn't our death
"They had me work here as a slave; I know this setup
He found a secret trap door and they soon were on their
Down the darkened corridors unto the light of day;
They figured out a bluff to keep entanglements at bay,
And joined back up with Xodar now to plot their getaway.
They jumped the prison bulwarks while the guard was out
And swam to Xodar’s flier which was a crackerjack;
John had pilot duties as they started their skyjack,
And then a sentry noticed and he called for an attack.
The sleeping pirates came to life and chased them up the
John Carter pulled a daring move and made that flier
But clouds were low that night and so they shot into
‘Til Carter took the craft so high they had some flying
And as they took a little break a stunning moment came:
Xodar gave a High-Five, calling out John Carter’s name.
That lit a spark within the youth; it fanned into a flame.
“John Carter? You must be my dad!” The young man did
Anon John realized ‘twas his son, who hadn’t cleared the
Before the time the Cosmos sent John Carter back to dwell
Upon the Earth for ten long years; now Carter said, “Please
“Me how’s my Dejah doing?” The youth said: "She is well.”
"She hasn’t changed a bit except her beauty has increased,
"But longing for her missing lover she has never ceased.
"Her anguish and her loneliness have never been
"She greatly fears you might, in Martian terms, now be
Although the little flier was their succor up 'til now,
The ship had taken shrapnel and was damaged in its prow,
At last no more momentum would the crippled craft allow,
And as it drifted downward, they clung unto the bow.
Once on the ground they found some food that grew on the
Then slept, but lo a lass approached the spot where they
"My ancestors rewarded me! I have not lived in vain,"
Then all that happened up 'til then, dear Thuvia did
"After you so nobly sent us off, things went awry;
"I don't know how to man a craft and Tharks, 'tis said,
"The flier drifted aimlessly; we thought we both might
"So we decided we would land and on our feet rely."
The duo found a city that appeared as though deserted,
But to their presence several fierce Warhoons were soon
Tars hid the girl, making sure the Warhoons were diverted,
And drew attention to himself; his sword arm he exerted.
They captured him but 'twas a chance the green man was
So John set off to see if he could free him from that
He searched the darkened pits, where many loathsome beasts
He rescued Tars and soon they swiped some thoats, numbering
It wasn't long before the Warhoon horde was giving chase,
And Thuvia's mount was tiring, moving at a slower pace;
She thought to sacrifice herself so it might be the case,
That the others could ride faster to a more secure place.
But at his own great peril, John Carter turned to her,
And Carthoris, his son, by his own actions did concur,
And set her up on his own mount and gave the beast a
Then four turned toward the Warhoons, their onslaught
The red man from the city, the green man known as Thark,
The white from distant Jasoom, the man whose skin was
They thought that they'd die fighting, but in each was
That told them all before they fell they'd leave an awesome
Then on their ears there fell a sound as of a mighty blast
And Warhoons knew quite quickly that their strength had
For Martian warships from the sky were closing on them
And Helium's device was flying from the flagship's mast.
The warhoons fled and Carthoris his friends in arms
And when they saw John Carter, their joy was made complete.
Hor Vastus, showing loyalty, lay weapons at John's feet,
And then came Kantos Kan, commanding admiral of the fleet.
Though Hor and Kan were glad to see John Carter once again,
An inner dread was gnawing as they wondered, with chagrin,
If he had sailed the Iss and then returned from where
For if he had, in Martian law, it'd be a mortal sin.
Aboard the ship, the admiral gave John Carter troubling
When Carthoris had disappeared all Helium sought for
And Tardos Mors and Mors Kajak pursued all avenues,
But those two rulers disappeared while on a rescue cruise.
And now by sheer default there was a government morass,
For mighty Helium was now controlled by Zat Arrras.
He had an eye for Dejah Thoris; her he did harass,
Until the princess disappeared, for she had too much
In fact these very ships that saved them from the Warhoon
Were searching for the Princess lest she fall to someone's
Then as they talked there came a message from the overlord:
Zat Arrras said "Bring the 'pris'ners' you have brought
An officer took on the role of Martian diplomat,
And sought to make the jed aware of just one caveat:
That John was not a prisoner, but an aristocrat.
But sneering Zat Arrras replied, "I'll be the judge of
The haughty Zat Arrras inquired where John Carter'd been
"I've come from Valley Dor," he said, and told the truth
Arrras called him a blasphemer, who'd done the greatest
And said he surely rated a punishment condign.
Back again at Helium the trial did commence,
Though justice in Zat Arrras's mind was only a pretense;
But Kantos Kan made sure there was a case for the defense,
And yet, the biased jury ordered death for John's offense
But many loyal men were in the palace hall that day,
And they demanded justice, insisting on fair play.
So any punishment was ordered to be held at bay
Until at least a year had passed; so Carter walked away.
And with him walked Hor Vastus, Tars Tarkas, Kantos Kan,
Carthoris and Xodar, each one a loyal man.
One hundred other Martians, made up this instant clan.
They went to John's old palace, to come up with a plan.
Then came a message that throughout the building did resound.
Someone said that Dejah Thoris had, at last, been found.
Sola, who had disappeared with Dejah, was inbound,
And on arrival Dejah's story Sola did expound:
Zat's continuing suit had placed the Princess in a plight,
So she stole from out the palace in the darkness of the
But faithful Sola followed with some troops to guard
And all went well 'til morning when there came a fearful
From Southern Skies they spotted first just one, then
two, then more
Martian flyers fitted with accoutrements of war,
Whose warriors seized the ladies after slaying all their
Then heading south, these Pirates back to Omean did soar.
Thuvia, as well, had been ensnared by these dragoons,
After John and Carthoris had saved her from Warhoons,
"He lives," she told the Princess, who barely staved
On learning that her man once more did roam 'neath Martian
The Pirates realized Sola didn't really make their grade,
And tossed her off the airship with the callousness of
But they were just above some hills, and so this Tharkian
Landed easily on the sward and death did thus evade.
When Sola finished telling them this saga of great woe,
John Carter swore a solemn oath: "To Omean I go!
"To rescue Dejah Thoris from that monstrous Issus foe!"
His loyal men joined in his vow to deal this quid pro
With all their skill and power and acumen of their wits,
They started to prepare a plan to launch a battle blitz,
But Zat Arrras had spies who gave him news that caused
And in the dead of night he had John cast into the pits.
For months John Carter lay within the darkness of that
Never knowing if, above, his plan would soar, or fail,
At last he found a way to smuggle out some special "mail,"
And Carthoris responded with a foreceful kind of "bail."
Now free, John found his faithful men had followed through
A mighty fleet of warships now awaited his command.
With time a deadly factor they launched fliers with elan,
Steering south to Omean their aerial caravan.
At last the polar portal to the First-Born lair had neared,
But just as luck would have it, lo, a new foe had appeared.
The vengeful Therns had formed a fleet and toward John's
But his ships formed a fighting "V" and for the foemen
John Carter's plan worked perfectly; the "V" cut through
Allowing transports filled with Tharks to safely forward
The green men swarmed the temple of the Therns which
While Carter's airmen dealt the airborne Therns a heavy
But just as it appeared the Therns had failed in their
There came on the horizon a lengthy line of black:
The fleet of Zat Arrras, that megalomaniac,
His gunships started firing; the air was filled with
The Therns, with reinforcements, resumed the battle fray,
Then, from the south, there quickly came a new cause
For from the bowels of Omean there swarmed a vast array
Of Pirate battle cruisers seeking out convenient prey.
John Carter was a warrior, a fighter through and through,
And even, faced with hopeless odds, he to his cause stayed
A Thern craft now approached them, close combat to renew,
John Carter fought with gusto, heartening his crew.
Then Admiral Kantos Kan was fired up with inspiration
And ordered all his ships to show a certain con-"flag"-ration
The Prince of Helium's colors flew; this changed the
Imbuing Barsoom patriots with new determination.
Yes, Carter's men were cheering as his banners flew with
But Zat Arrras's ship was just then pulling alongside;
John led his men to board Zat's ship; the fight intensified,
And Zat confirmed his cowardice, committing suicide.
The swordsmen in Zat's army either went down to
Or saw the writing on the wall and joined John Carter's
They left the Pirates and the Therns each other to defeat,
And slipped away to Omean to seek a victory sweet.
Down the polar opening, unto the sea below,
John Carter and his mighty ships quite handily did go.
The blacks had left a token guard in their presidio
And it was element’ry that small force to overthrow
He captured Captain Yersted, skipper of the submarine,
And from the man he easily learned that Issus the unclean,
Had Dejah Thoris as a slave to humble and demean;
John Carter's sword was itching to depose this evil queen.
They crossed the sea and into nether tunnels did stampede,
John maintained the rear guard, while Carthoris took
The enemy tried floods and flames their progress to impede,
And John was finally cut off and unable to proceed.
So he tried another tunnel (there was nothing else to
It ended in a portal which he opened and went through;
And there he saw a woman of the Issus retinue,
And realized he was seeing Dejah Thoris! Deja Vu!
From the banks that hug the Hudson to the Martian troposphere,
John Carter had at last encountered she whom he called
She scarce believed her eyes that her lost love at last
As he sped across the room her heart again to comandeer.
A decade disappeared in that one moment of delight,
As Dejah and John Carter for a flash did reunite;
Yet, only for an instant could she clasp her shining
For well she knew he must return unto the raging fight.
The sounds of clashing swords were coming down the palace
And Martian blood was flowing for her cause beyond those
They lingered just a moment 'til she said, "Go! Duty
"I'll be brave and wait right here no matter what befalls."
John quickly charged through chambers to where forces
His men had backed up Issus' guards as he the scene surveyed,
Then straight into the enemy did Carter quickly wade;
His actions fortified his men as Carter slashed his blade.
When chroniclers write ballads of the fight within that
They'll speak of grim ferocity that sparkled in the gloom,
Five hundred men were fighting for deliverance or doom,
It was the finest hour of the warriors of Barsoom.
Then into Issus' private grounds the mighty Tharks did
Tars Tarkas' lance was leveled from the thoat he was
The flashing steel and mighty roars rose from that greenish
The Pirates they were fighting fled the battle, terrified.
And now 'twas time to go to Dejah, where she'd hid away,
So John and Carth’ris rushed to her but noticed straightaway,
She was not there; her silks and bracelets spread in
"Where's Issus," said John Carter, "now it's time for
her to pay."
Deep into the temple where, surrounded by her own,
The ugly goddess sat upon her carved sorapus throne;
John Carter shoved her guards aside to reach the loathsome
And suddenly the one whose word was law was all alone.
John Carter grabbed the wretched witch; his grip was like
He asked her Pirate guards if they would like to roll
"Put one foot on the platform and I'll give her heart
Then Issus' high priest thought to give his regent some
"Oh Issus our Goddess, 'tis you we all esteem;
"Your supernatural power on Barsoom is supreme;
"These vile interlopers are daring to blaspheme!
"Now wave your hand and strike them dead and end their
When Issus didn't act, her minions knew they'd been beguiled,
And Issus, knowing all was lost, quite suddenly went
"Where's Dejah," shouted Carter to the one whom he reviled
She wiped the froth from off her lips and sinisterly
"Your Dejah I've imprisoned in the Temple of the Sun,
"Her cell just opens once a year; before then she'll
" 'Cause locked with her are Thuvia and Phaidor; oh,
"I've fixed it so there won't be enough food for everyone!"
John Carter shook the goddess as a terrier shakes a rat,
And moved to strike her dead but then thought better
of doing that;
He said he would not taint his hand with blood from that
And threw her to her subjects who could give her tit
Then Carter and his loyal men made haste to find the cell,
To see if they could somehow stop its round-trip course
They found the three imprisoned in that monstrous carousel,
Which soon would move their cubicle within a rock-like
With iron bars between them Dejah and John Carter knew
They each had only moments for a bittersweet adieu;
To stop the Temple of the Sun there was no avenue,
And there might never be, for them, another rendezvous.
Xodar brought more food he hoped would last them in their
And as the opening narrowed there was naught that could
Then jealous Phaidor, with a dagger, struck like Earth's
Her blade was aimed at Dejah, John Carter's love to slay.
The last John saw was Thuvia, who tried to stop the deed,
Moving her own body Phaidor's knife-thrust to impede,
But then the cell moved out of sight. Did Thuvia intercede?
He heard a scream -- then nothing! What had the fates
Had wicked Phaidor struck John Carter's Dejah with her
Or came the scream from Thuvia, who sought to render
Six-hundred eighty-seven days -- the price that must
Until the gnawing myst’ry of events would be allayed
What happened next? Another annal clearly would explain
How Issus died and Xodar took command of her domain;
John Carter near the Temple of the Sun swore to remain
Until his Princess re-emerged and there could meet the
And so, beset by bleak despair and nagging sense of doom,
John Carter vowed to spend a year 'longside that would-be
Until the door would open on that dreadful prison room,
And they'd at last walk hand in hand again upon Barsoom.