Sunday, December 29, 2013

the way out becomes the way in


how ironic that just as our modern technology
connects us all with tools that span the earth,
and with which we can access centuries of data,
and with which we can reach others across the globe
with the touch of a few buttons or keys,

that just then the tribal calls us even more
to define ourselves as narrower and narrower,
like to like in blood, friendships, opinions,

it’s cultural atomization, 
the breaking down into the smallest possible units,

just when communities have the most potential to become larger,
we fall back from the march forward and become smaller,

we went into space and then decided
to be more Narcissus than Magellan.

by Henry H. Walker
December 26, ’13

Saturday, December 28, 2013

a stairstep of becoming

our grandchildren, our joy

there should always be wonder
in the coming into the power of the self
that every child deserves to be able to release,

with our grandchildren it’s almost a stairstep of the stages of becoming,

our older granddaughter is eight going on adolescent,
as the consumes books, remembers everything,
notices and celebrates process after process,
all the while coming into the power of her will,

our five year old granddaughter can devastate us and herself
with the joy she can find in a moment,
and the sorrow that can envelope her the next,
heart and head hold each moment close to her,
and her will hates to be thwarted, too,

our youngest grandchild, one year old Max,
is as perfect a new child 
as one could hope for,
solid in body and self,
intense in eye and consideration,
beautiful in countenance 
and how his spirit animates 
face and head to express that self,
loving pattern in vocalization, 
and in the drumming of hands and feet,

his will wants to take on the world,
and he’s most successful now in pulling us all to him
to be whoever he might find most pleasing.

by Henry H. Walker
December 25, ’13

Friday, December 27, 2013

shifting perspective

first to third person narration

we live life in the first person
and events can subsume us
in the acting, into just being,

it’s when the narrator of our life
shifts to third person
that the larger context of it all
impinges on our consciousness,

in the first person 
I can feel myself intensely,
yet I need to step out,
to make the empathic leaps
into larger and larger contexts,
they can then overwhelm me with realization
that both centers me
and helps me realize the circles within circles
of which I am part,
and which also truly define who I am.

by Henry H. Walker
December 23, ’13

fire of feeling and the water of just being

from fire and water

this fall I have felt like a crucible
flamed by the fire of feeling
and, from the forging, 
new poems have appeared
as if etched in fire on the page,

water is often my philosopher’s stone,
as it falls and pools around me
experience, thoughts, and feelings 
can transform into poetry,

and sometimes I just need 
to sink into the moment
and just let it be. 

by Henry H. Walker
December 21, ’13

Monday, December 16, 2013

hurt and joy are brother and sister

a raw wound

this morning I feel that thought and word
cannot possibly express the loss
that hovers just behind routine and conversation,
the absence is and will be a raw wound,
never to be gotten over,
but one with which we will have to live,
angry scream after scream barely approaches the power
of the blows upon the psyche,

I can still laugh,
still get things done,
excuse myself from the sorrow for awhile,

and still I will again close the circle
and come face-to-face with a truth I’d love to deny,

I know of people who seem able to compartmentalize:
to wall off areas they don’t want to touch,
I fear for them, for darkness, walled-off,
finds a way to slip into the other rooms
to short-circuit the power that can make us who we can be,

hurt and joy are brother and sister,
and who we are needs both
to rise to our fullness.

by Henry H. Walker
December 15, ’13

Friday, December 13, 2013

trees are illusionists

a green dream

here in the east, a green dream 
wraps itself around us most of the year,
trees are illusionists who reach high and stretch wide
and build on the misdirections of the other trees--

all of whom want to keep us 
from seeing the clear shape of the land
and the sheer sure revelation 
of sun and moon’s dance with us,

yet I love their offer 
of the embrace and the sweetness of a flower,
the companionship of a great old beech,
and the eldering of a great old poplar,

there are stories of faerie,
of parallel life-forms who live beyond calendar and clock
and with whom we can lose ourselves for a time, 
or a timeless,

I love to live in the dream,
and I also miss the clarity
with which earth and sky can shock me awake.

by Henry H. Walker
December 6, ’13

organizing meaning into reality

the dance

early on, as we feel potential meaning swirling within us,
we learn that sounds can be trained to be words,
and an order within the meaning learn to be itself,

with music a whole other order finds how to be,
and the swirl within reveals understanding
as rhythm and melody organize together
at our depths and reach to our heights,

today, though, I feel the power of dance
to allow vision, technique, and work
to take and organize the swirling meaning within us
to places for which I have no words but only appreciation,

within me I hold the virtuosity and power 
of vision and presentation,
of movement, light and darkness, and music--
all of which combine together to compel the audience into meaning
for which words are but inarticulate sound,

the dance itself organizes meaning into reality.

by Henry H. Walker
December 12, ’13

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

to be with Claudia was to feel right


what a gentle good soul:
the twinkle in her eyes,
the easy smile on her lips,
the steel in her sense of self,
the softness in her care for others,
the sureness in her love 
for her children and for her partner,

would that everyone could live life like Claudia,
of both determined will for her self
and determined will for others,
could anyone take better care of a parent
than she did with her mother,
or of children as she did with Alexis and Jessica,
or of a partner as she did with Kathy, the love of her life?

how fitting that she taught organizational behavior and management,
though the way she was treated at NCCU
illustrated that bureaucracy’s need of her courses,
her students loved her,
her children loved her,
her partner loved her,
just to learn to know her was to know to love her,

she knew how to organize money and things
and always had a workable plan to make sure
contingencies were prepared for:
she probably never paid a dime of interest,
she also pursued art and music with a passion,
nothing more real than the brilliant rightness
of the music she helped play, 
a professional oboe player for six months,
a Pennsylvania choir a means for Kathy to find her,
at 60 learning and then playing the violin,
for years with the Durham Symphony,

still, when Jessica gave up the violin and chose dance instead,
Claudia fully supported her 
and lived adventure after adventure with her,

Kathy and she “got” each other,
and what a treat it was for any of us to “get” her,

to be with Claudia was to feel right,
the universe and us aligned,
blocks building together rather than falling apart,

we can escape the fullness of who we can be
by being either too tough or too soft,
Claudia found how to live the assertion of will
and also the responsiveness of love.

to be with Claudia was to feel right.

by Henry H. Walker
December 7, ’13

Monday, December 9, 2013

a wrenching loss


a chasm opens deep and wide,
and the wonderful person I treasured
is now on the other side,
I cannot quite believe that 
this vibrant funny man is not here any more
to share the air,
to share a joke,
to share a story, a moment,
that our path together came to a fork
and now we’re on opposite sides of the chasm,

my brain and my heart work to deal with it,
but the despair of the new reality 
repulses my attention,
and my thoughts skitter off and away
into any distracting harbor they can find,
for the storm of loss can buffet me beyond bearing,
when I hold to moments with the new truth,
tears shake me and I feel the despair just below,

we remember Jonathan as a beautiful newborn
at the hospital in Greensboro,
as an energetic rambunctious child who leaped into things,
as a tender sweet child through teenager
playing improvised games of football in the backyard at Glasgow
and being my partner in being outrageous in knock rummy card games,

he grew up well and found a partner who meant the world to him,

depth upon depth to the self he’d let us see,
and far more depth upon depth to the self he wouldn’t let us see,

time with Jonathan made me smile with delight,
as who he was was of the light,
and the world will be darker without that brightness,

may we learn from him 
to flare our own brightness
as fully as we can.

with love,
from Henry H. Walker
December 8, ’13

Monday, December 2, 2013

rightness and loss bound perfectly together

Thanksgiving ’13

I feel the absence of those we’ve lost to this moment:

of parent and brother, and friend who have died,
of family whose own journeys take them 
somewhere else other than here for now,
those today at the Thanksgiving table
find joy in each other and the food,
and still within me flash after-images of earlier Thanksgivings,
and I remember, and I wish I knew even more of the forbearers,

I ache to remember the best of those who have gone before,
the struggles, the will, the doubts, the hopes:
how they found answers to all the great questions
that must be dealt with just to endure,
life is a game with only hints of directions,
we’re alone, and maybe we find another,
and maybe the other is who we need,
and, if we’re even luckier, that who we are is who the other needs,

we have a child and we must intuit how to parent,
driven by love and guided by the heart’s and the intellect’s best guesses,
we have to act and find the paths that are best
with only hints as to how and where to go in trackless woods,

and when we’re home at Thanksgiving,
we can feel rightness and loss bound up perfectly together.

by Henry H. Walker
November 28, ’13
Images courtesy of Google Images

Sunday, December 1, 2013

I want to BE there

the mountain’s moods

I need to feel fresh
every time I go outside in the Smokies
so that however the forest feels
I can wear that mood, too,

so that I can hear whatever leaf of story
floats down the creek,

so that I can know the quickly fleeting and the slowly changing,

so that I can know the constancy of being an instrument
upon which the mountain plays,

I was last here in high summer
when I sought to escape the heavy humid heat
and the forest was full of frenzy to make, to do,

now winter is upon us--
trees bare but for a light snow lining them
and a fire draws me in rather than pushes me away,

I missed the fall up here
as instead I fell and broke a bone
and I missed the golden moods between green and bare,

familiarity isn’t all that can dull me:
rather I must leave all the needs of my lowland life
which callous how I can feel with nerves already used elsewhere.    

by Henry H. Walker
November 28, ’13