Monday, November 19, 2018


doubting the self

my student writes of doubt, of despair,
all hidden behind his tight smile,
my student write of living past her own doubts
by letting her love reach out to embrace another,

there is a sweet gentleness,
a belief in the wholeness, 
in the wonder of the other,
that many of us can give,
and give joyously, continuously,
yet it is woefully hard to give
that unconditional love to ourselves,

we need the friend, the partner,
so that the foundation of who we are
finds a footing that can endure
the buffeting, the buffeting, the buffeting,
that self-doubt throws and throws at us.

by Henry H. Walker
November 16, ‘18

hope calls

is the play the thing, or not?

our Upper School hoped to put on a play, 
The Foreigner,
that takes Southern culture to task,
and ridicules the parts of us
that hate the other,
that center self in those like us,

our national culture 
increasingly gives room for hate,
room to deny the other as us, too,

student and staff alike
have been both drawn to and repelled by the play
which forces us to hurt, to think,
to consider how zero-sum our choices can be,

we seek truth,
and we can be lost,
we find truth,
and we open ourselves to grow,

my heart and my hope reach out
to the high school students of the play
who give of their souls
to understand, to move forward,
to see the future, and the past, and the now,
and work their best to be their best,
to call for hope to save us from the least of these within.

by Henry H. Walker
November 16, ‘18

We of the South

we of the South
know loss,
we know tragedy,
for some of our ancestors
bought their family’s future
by enslaving humans into property,
for some of our ancestors
were stolen from their homes
to serve as things, as tools, for others’ dreams,

we of the South
lost a war to continue a Devil’s bargain,
we of the South
won a war so that we could reach to be free,

who we are in the South has incredible diversity about us:
our food, our music, our sports, our childrearing, our relationships,

there can be a wonder in opening to the other,
of expanding who we can be,
there can also be a disaster of losing ourselves,
of burning the Cross rather than living the Sermon on the Mount.

by Henry H. Walker
November 16, ‘18

Friday, November 9, 2018

Ginkgo and the Election

The Ginkgo

it’s early November
and our ginkgo tree is a-flame,
as if a golden-yellow joy suffuses it,
it greets a new day as if it alone knows
how to release the brightness that sleeps within,
even when gray fog holds and frames it
it welcomes the day as if it is a torch

to remind us how much beauty there is within
that silently aches to be released,

on Election Day this year, I feel the hope within,
the better selves that ache to be released,

the maple near the ginkgo seems 
to have forgotten the glory it often flares,
its leaves give up, 
slip quickly to brown, 
then to the ground,

a nearby oak also forgets 
how to do other than to give up,

the election results both hearten and disappoint me,
hope flares bright where the greater of who we are releases itself,
doubt darkens too often where the lesser of who we are
forgets to celebrate that of color that makes us better,
the spirit that feels right and whole.

by Henry H. Walker
November 7, ‘18

Sunday, November 4, 2018


Multi-Tasking or Multi Tasks?

I often think of multi-tasking
as a lazy man’s load,
an attempt to save energy
by getting to two or three things at the same time,
and having trouble with carrying it all,
none of the things worthy of full concentration,
and thus multi-tasking can lead to diminished result,
to shortchanging not only the other but also the one,

yet, multiple tasks increasingly call to me,
I want to give 100% to each,
100% during the time
I focus on a student,
100% during the time 
I focus on a class,
or on my spouse,
or on a person before me for a photo,
or on the idea before me for a poem, 
or on a calling for a project:
these days stewardship calls me and I find a way that can
*monitor electricity usage and photovoltaic power generation at CFS,
*remember, honor, remember those we’ve lost to today,
*remember those still with us in videos
that tell stories of how each has helped us
be, and become, who we are as a school,

I want my life to matter,
and what matters most is to help connection happen,
the tiniest parts reaching to remember the whole,
then we can imagine that autonomy can be illusion,
that our community can be a larger and larger whole.

by Henry H. Walker
November 2, ‘18

Saturday, November 3, 2018

bowling and aging

the kid within, the old impinges

I haven’t bowled for years.
really bowled? not for decades,
my head knows what to do,
but my body won’t move
with the flexibility it used to exhibit,
that loose devil-may-care abandon
my middle school students exhibit, 
most of them don’t live a secret of bowling,
at least my “secret,” 
that economy of movement,
of repetition, of precision,
but they are fluid,
my first two frames are spares,
many frames aren’t that good,
no strikes,
my movements careful, halting, staccato,
my left hand on my left knee
as I release the ball,
the bowling ball often goes close to where I aimed it,
but increasingly I’m off, just a bit,
that the alley makes larger and larger
as the pins come nearer,

I feel so lucky with all I can still do,
wherever my mind and my heart
can find the right opportunity to express themselves,
I can be still fine:
there for my students,
there for my wife,
there for my poetry, 
there for my photography,

bowling today reminds me that the operator within can still feel young
until the body without realizes we’re not in Kansas any more.

by Henry H. Walker
November 2, ‘18

Saturday, October 27, 2018

the tree, the forest, Gaia

Nature’s Holy Book

I love to find myself ignorant,
for then I discover a hole,
and I can fill it with answers to questions 
that have just come to me,
I love to learn,
particularly in areas where I didn’t even realize
I had holes in my understanding,

today I’m wondering
if it might be even better
to embrace my ignorance
and approach some mysteries with a resigned awe,

nature is so far beyond me
that I cannot even really see the trees,
let alone the forest,
Gaia a connected whole we need,
but her holy book cannot yet be translated in full,
just a few lines, enough to shock into awe
anyone who wakes up enough to notice,

how I awoke into awareness,
into consciousness of self and other,
is a mystery like understanding a tree,
each exists,
each is amazing,
and I only glimpse what in creation is going on,

Mary Oliver spoke of valuing mystery,
my wife shared her words,
and I first responded with the scientist within me,
the one who knows there is an answer
and craves to find it,
the person of faith within, elders me,
elders me to seek and appreciate God as the unfathomable,
the best answer to the deepest questions
is the awe the universe deserves.

by Henry H. Walker
October 26, ‘18

Monday, October 22, 2018

the incipient thrusts at its binders

why still teaching?

why am I still teaching?
why does the weight of the burdens
my students feel thrust upon them
not break my spirit when my empathy leaps me to them?
what gives me the energy to be there day after day, for them?
even when impulse and contrariness thwart movement forward?

I really don’t know the answer,
yet I can imagine what might be going on,

somehow I have a gift, 
the gift of seeing the student as whole, intentional,
I see the incipient thrusting at its binders
hoping to break free of diminishment
and finding the power 
that should be its birthright,

our school is structured well enough
that empowerment gains are often within the kids’ grasp,
enough that they are actually able to grasp them,
and thus their victories empower me, too, 
to stay longer as teacher.

by Henry H. Walker
October 19, ‘18