Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Ken Burns is a visionary

if you aren't watching the national park series on PBS, start tonight!

a great American idea

a national park, what a revolutionary idea!
that a country can have a collective will!
that the interests of the people as a whole
can outweigh the desires of a person but a part,
the selfless over the selfish,
the lasting over the fleeting,
what nature births over what artifice makes,

each of us is not our “own master, total and absolute,”
except when we realize that who we are
contains both us and the other,
we then interweave with plant, animal, and rock,

and the spirit which infuses all,
who many of us call God,

when I wander where nature with original energy
lifts up my heart and gives me strength,
I realize again how much of who I am
depends on a waterfall, a bear, a flower,

who must still be there when I am not,
and even their just being there makes me more whole,

we diminish ourselves when we reduce our consciousness to selfish whim.

by Henry Walker
September 28, ‘09

the seasons turn

Autumnal Equinox ’09

the air, warm and as full of water as at high summer,
rolls shower after shower over us,
the clouds hang on and only release the Sun
for moments midday today,
just enough to let us see the Sol Pole’s shadow at noon,
standard time,
we gather around our marker of the seasons’ change
and chant loudly together of “day & night, half & half,”

and somehow the clouds part enough so that
the Sun shadows the pole onto the chiseled mark,

each year has two middles with day & night equal,
and noon is the middle of each day,
and we work today to notice that underlying truth,

yet what Sun & Earth dance can be but a frame
within which we live lives with their own dynamic
that can be at odds with
the stately, courtly turns of the heavens,

our school year has just begun and is full of energy & promise,
and the effort of getting inertia to work for us and not against us,

the trees are still mostly green and race
to make and store the most of this year that they can,
yellow, red, and gold just start to show themselves in the woods,
acorns drop like gunfire onto the metal of my woodpiles
and through the foliage in the woods,
my first chestnuts drop and the muscadine grapes finish,
their taste sweet & sour like the Equinox itself,
in the garden okra and tomato decide
to go gently into the night that comes,
the lettuce germinated and seems to pause
and even reverse in its growing
until the days & nights remember to cool,
the day lightens later and later
and the dark comes earlier and earlier,

I feel ready to shake myself awake
when the growing year decides to let itself finish
and to celebrate what it has accomplished
with a final harvest and a flaring of autumnal color,

I am ready to chill
and to then feel comfortable enough
to let the color of myself blaze brighter
than summer’s heat lets me.

by Henry Walker
September 24, ‘09

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

mono vs poly

Here is a letter I sent to the Raleigh News & Observer. Below it are more details as to my feelings about where we are now as a country:

To the Editor:

Steve Ford journeys from Joe Wilson’s “You lie!” to Gettysburg (Where we celebrate what we share, Sept. 13), a reminder that our country struggled then to define itself, and still does.
How monocultural or how diverse should we be? White bread or whole wheat? or rye? How exhilarated or how scared to be when a white man is no longer President?
Many of us contend that we reach further into greatness as a country when we open ourselves to diversity and become one from many, like a stew in which each ingredient both adds itself to the larger and yet remembers where it came from.
A civil war still rages in our country and each side wants to define who we are. Like Lincoln after Gettysburg, may we choose the greater and not the lesser, hope over fear, love over hate, the open heart over the closed mind.

Henry Walker
5701 Old Stony Way
Durham, NC 27705
(919) 489-6685

are we white bread, or whole wheat?

at the heart of who we are as a country
opposing impulses struggle with each other and to express themselves,
and in the knowing we choose
we shape and define who we are,

are we white bread or whole wheat? or maybe even rye?
one nation under one God
or one nation with many paths toward God,
or otherwise?

our past has been dominated by the white and the male,
and I understand the fear of losing a familiar father,
in Congress Assembled, and Dissembled,
one party cannot keep itself from trumpeting that fear,
their own countenances, demeanors, all WASPy and angry,

I want us as a country to hold on to the wisdom of the white and the male
and feel not diminished, but grander,
when we add the wisdom of all of our assets:
each gender, each race, ethnicity,
when we can value the quality of character
whatever the gender, the skin, the way they know their God,

how much more we can be as a country
when we use all of the gifts of all of us
and not just hearken back to a partial self,

the best in us knows we can do better than that,

may we win the struggle with our selves
and rise as a wholeness that will not be denied.

by Henry Walker
September 10, ’09