Wednesday, November 28, 2012

a single oak leaf spirals down

the way down, after the way up   

little depends upon a single oak leaf
spiraling gently down, down, into a stream,

an overwhelming percentage of its fellows
already blurs the forest floor brown
and they pile up wherever wind and water carry them,

oak leaf after oak leaf tarried
and then takes its turn toward the ground,
many lightly caught by interposing branches,

in high Summer a few precocious leaves turn early,

in late Fall a few die-hard leaves wait
to go gently back into the earth,

I love it that I am here to witness
a few of those last graceful spirals,

as the way down can be as heartening as the way up.

by Henry H. Walker
November 23, ’12

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

the stuff of eternity?

life washes over the earth   

moons and seasons wash over the earth,

little and large things
leaf, flower, and seed,
grow tall until the fall calls them,
little and large things
scurry and etch a life
and lose themselves,
and we lose them,

and their passing is like a wind
that we seemed to feel,
and oh-so-quickly becomes but memory,

we humans, too, are not the stuff eternity is made on,
and we, too, can wash over the earth,
and leave but a trace behind,
everything we build seems as mirror to ourselves
so that in grandness and repetition
we count ourselves as enduring,

and maybe it’s so
if who we are furthers life itself
and not just the selfish genes
that are part of who we are.

by Henry H. Walker
November 24, ’12

Monday, November 26, 2012

how DOES a refrigerator work?

to love to learn

the world I am most alive in
is the world open to possibility,

I love it when I realize I am ignorant,
that there is a hole in me
that I can fill with the challenging joy of learning,

I do not feel lesser
when I know I don’t know,
I feel greater for I know
that I can know more, and better,

I am still the child who asked his father
to read to him from the World Book,
the empath who wants to know
how another sees and feels the world,
I am still the one who loves the puzzles
the world can give us,
who knows that answers
can be conditional upon perspective,
upon how the question’s framed,

I know that it’s not the answers that count,
it’s the questions,
and the openness to learn
whatever path to truth the universe reveals,

I am drawn to Hinduism
and how that one’s life should seek the answer of self and desire,
and that the process might take longer than I can yet imagine.

by Henry H. Walker
November 22, ’12

Sunday, November 25, 2012

two seers

goodbye. . . hello?   

Fall can be like the big meal after a funeral:
it celebrates a sadness the sweetness of the year gave us
but no longer gives us,
the cold demands an ending,
trees are starkly somber
after the colorful finery drops away,
the leathery brown rustle of the last oak leaves
have the hue and cry of mourning,

as I plant flower bulbs for Spring,
mad copters of poplar seed attack the ground
and soft yellow ginkgo leaves
whisper in their falling,
 and the artist with me marvels,

my mood walks a knife-edge
as two seers within read the signs differently:

the survivor in me joys
with every meal, every smile,
every morning that breaks open possibility,

the survivor in me sorrows
with every loss, every tear,
every sun that sets upon what can be,

how many “goodbyes” can a person hold
until there’s no room left for new “hellos”?

by Henry H. Walker
November 21, ’12

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

in awe

to be as mirror

some deep part of me
needs to rise up
and be born onto the page:
I feel it when I’m most alive,
that oh-so-human sense
that at our best we are to be the ones
to perceive, to notice, to appreciate, to chronicle,

for the universe seems casual, unconscious,
as the miracle of design unfolds,
and it feels to me that casualness is not indifference,

we humans can wake up, look about,
and be as mirror and judge
so that what is being wrought can be understood
as a marvel, or as an essay forth that needs another effort,

in the absorbing effort of living the moment
we can lose ourselves in the myopic,
the sheer effort it takes to get from here to any there,

and yet I love the shuddering awe we can feel
when we can let ourselves realize the glory,
the transient glory,
of what a flower,
a bird,
a person,
 can live.

by Henry H. Walker
November 16, ’12

an invisible hand

Our International Potluck   

potlucks can be extraordinary:

individuals choose what to make and bring
and a medley of courses
can sing a wholeness upon the table,

with this potluck we first celebrate our differences,
the individual take within a country, within a family,
on ingredients, combinations, preparation,
so that ethnicity, history, culture, individuality
sing their notes and somehow the whole harmonizes together,

when we are most within our differences
we can still connect
and celebrate a wholeness within which
each of us is a treasured voice,
and the song we make together
can be even more amazing,

and today it was delicious,

may we always live the lesson
of how from many we can be one.

by Henry H. Walker
November 20, ’12

Monday, November 12, 2012

the game, fair to all?

politics and sports

politics is like sports
in that we can be drawn to the contest
and fascinate ourselves with who wins and who loses,
and how much it’s the vicarious “us”
doing the winning & losing,

yet politics are not like sports
for the conditions of my life
only change with sports in that
I might have, or not have, a dessert, if my team wins,
or go hungry for a time if my team loses,

in politics the stakes are higher,
the body can live or die
with what we do about war or health care,
in politics the spirit can be empowered, or broken,
as rights and privileges are given, or denied,

I imagine life as a game
with the politicians making the rules,
and each of us is a player,

whether the game is fair to all
is at the heart of politics,
and it deeply matters
 how we structure the game with laws and taxes,
with how much we care for the least to us
as well as we care for ourselves.

by Henry H. Walker
November 8, ’12

the debt

the Peter & Wendy within   

I feel the kid in me as real,
Peter Pan a touch of who I am,
and somehow I keep ending up as the adult,
the one who has to grow up
and hold the truth of all the other selves connected to me,
I treasure the empathic leap
and the binding it gives me,
the binding to neighbors, family, colleagues, students,
each grouping a whole that can work,
and that I can help the working find a way to be,

I was born the youngest
and it’s been a long time since the Pan in me
has been able to forget what the Wendy in me has had to know,

now, in our national politics,
it seems to me that our side, our President,
when we can get one elected,
has had to be the adult, the one who cleans up the messes
that self-indulgence leaves him,
the messy floor of our country
 that the others who messed it up
refuse to deal with, who run up bills
and then refuse to pay them,
so we have to come in and make hard choices,
and get the blame for how much reality costs,

how hard it is to serve as the grownup
and still have ourselves falsely charged,
felt to be the one indulged instead.

by Henry H. Walker
November 7, ’12