Wednesday, December 31, 2014

potential inherent, and lost

Winter Solstice ’14

the rocks and poplar trunks, straight as plumb lines,
are gray as the clouds that keep hanging around,

this morning I climb out of one valley
and, as I come up the ridge, the sun comes up the other side,
and brings out the beige in the beech leaves still on the trees,

witch hazel is a-bloom:
pale yellow flat tendrils of flower
incongruous as all else retreats to assert some other day,

I can’t tell if it remembers summer or anticipates spring,
or is just contrary, as it celebrates the sun at its weakest,
when devotion is least to be expected,
and most needed if hope is to become real,

yesterday, I marveled at a deep green pool up Big Creek
where great sandstone boulders joined together
so that the flooding stream would deepen the hole every time,

and here, too, witch hazel bloomed, just above the hole,

the witch hazel reminds me to hope,
the forest asleep reminds to to remember
and to anticipate when potential remembers to release life anew,
the story repeats but it can forget
who starred in the prequel,

at this time, I feel potential open to release in the spring,
and potential cut off, the way forward lost,
and I feel lesser in this world as the next world gains so many,
I hope to still be here more and more tomorrows
within which the losses I feel today will still be with me.

by Henry H. Walker
December 21, ’14

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

which the master? which the servant?

technology can cut my time to double

my mother used to say that cooking with a child
cut her time cooking to double,
that’s how I feel about each new computer-born system,
there’s always the hope that this program will be the tool
that helps teaching and learning become easier,
maybe that can be so--quicker, surer,
for me, though, each helpful software system
cuts my time to double,
as the screen calls me more than the child,
as the system can glitch
and I have to juggle more and more,

I dread to hear “the server is down. . . the internet is down,”

I work to juggle what I hope to teach 
and how my students learn,
and I fear to drop them
when the technology balls I hope to also juggle
drop too often to the floor. 

by Henry H. Walker
December 5, ’14

Monday, December 29, 2014

and we are free

where God is

where a ginger flower blooms, 

God is,

where an eagle soars

 or a heron erupts into flight,

God is,

where the sun ablaze drops off into the welcoming ocean,

God is,

where the sun rises freshly new above Smoky Mountain,

God is,

where bears endure,

where the peregrine falcon returns,

where we welcome wolves back to a shared world,

God is,

where we remember to leave room for trees to remember,

God is,

wherever water dances with rock to gravity’s song,

God is,

wherever water meets land,

or land meets sky,

wherever DNA provides melody 
within the planet’s dance with our star,
God is,

we should beware the siren call of our technology
which can pull us away from the primal,

we should beware the beguile of the reflection of ourselves
that tricks us away from the primary, the source,
where God is,
and we only feel we live in iMoments,
for Siri often does answer a prayer
and Google can tell us where we are and where to go,

while beguiled, we can dream away the too few years
we are given to make a difference,

only when we apprentice ourselves to the Source,

can we learn to be true to the gift of God within us,
for God is also there,

and needs to live within the rightness that we do,

wherever one connects with another,

God is. . .

and we are free. . .

by Henry H. Walker
November 14, ’14

Thursday, December 25, 2014

the theater and the full glass

lifting the blockages

I love the theater as a stage for students to shine,
to succeed as individuals while building a whole
within a collective larger than the sum of its parts,
kids there can succeed in lifting blockages that obscure their lights
in ways I can notice, and celebrate,
each can give evidence
that my belief in possibility is right,
that my belief in inherent good has support in reality,

I teach because I believe in my students
and time after time they achieve even more
than what the optimist in me thinks can happen,
yet even that is not beyond my expectations,
for my heart never really believes 
there’s a limit to how full the glass can be. 

by Henry H. Walker
December 20, ’14

Friday, December 19, 2014

we are not in control

the darkness impinges

my emotions are so close to my surface
I feel like I’m on the Ring of Fire
with great plates moving against each other
and plumes of feeling ready to erupt
and surprise me on the calm surface on which I appear to live,

as the year winds down, the dark crowds the day
and slows down dawn and speeds up dusk,

consciously we moderns can ignore that underlying truth
with electric lights, fossil-fueled heat, and denial,
nevertheless, we get irritable, we are tired,
we feel a darkness impinge upon us,

we don’t realize how much 
we are driven by that underlying darkness we cannot control,
yet what we can understand if we open ourselves
to realize the depths that are so much who we are,

dark and light are one, so are we,
particularly when our earth trembles
and plumes of feelings remind us we are not in control. 

by Henry H. Walker
December 12, ’14

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

all one can do is do

the view in front, and back

when I get right down to it,
I realize that the view out my rear-view mirror
is so much longer than the view in front of me,

I do what I can to better my odds
at getting around the next curve,
at being here to see what’s over the next hill,
around the next bend,

today I pushed myself miles up a mountain
and miles back,
lungs and legs protested,
and I worried about it all,
yet I made it up,
and back down,

like my mother said about walking the neighborhood,
once you stop, you will never be able to do it again,

all I can do is do
and hope that exercise and diet,
meditation, and medication,
honesty and hope, will help me
travel further than I fear is anything I can deserve. 

by Henry H. Walker
December 5, ’14

Monday, December 8, 2014

permanence? ridiculous concept

not written in stone

what a ridiculous concept,
within even a human lifetime
stores come and go,
neighborhoods transform
and forget the lives that played out there before,

we talk of change and how a present convention
is “not written in stone,”

so I look for artifacts from previous people
written in stone points and tools,
in the sculpting of the land,

I’m proud of the walls and steps of stone I have made,
and I reach toward the future
with my students, my children, my grandchildren,
and with my words,

today I am proud of how I’ve understood the creek
and what high water can do to its bed,
and how we moved rocks to help channel the way
for water to clear a place to dip,
and now a small waterfall exists where, without our touch,
the world would have lost a small grace,

storms come, the creek floods,
and the bed is remade,

even stone can rewrite itself. 

by Henry H. Walker
November 29, ’14

Sunday, December 7, 2014

to be right enough

a day, like a poem

my last poem is a catalogue of how I spent my day,
how wonderful it is to feel
that the actions and presence one can live
can be right enough to be like a poem.

by Henry H. Walker
December 4, ’14

being there, and there, helps me be "here"

a full day

I begin the day before dawn
here high on granite-thrust Pinnacle Mountain,
I look out toward South Carolina, low and flat from here,
like the ocean as seen from California’s hills who crowd the shore,

trees are stark and bare against the lightening sky,

the sun rises into half-awake clouds
and brings clarity and a blaze of beauty back into the world,
the roads I follow through the mountains
seem bound and determined to vary from the straight
as much as they can,

down in the valley where elk and the Smokies
are getting to know each other again,
I marvel at the bulls, racked with testosterone,
the alpha who endures beta and gamma’s awkward testing,

then I’m off to reconnect with my brother, my uncle, and my cousins,
who are fighting battles I know enough about to feel some of their efforts,

the sun I watched rise sets in a display I can barely notice
as my errands keep me on the roads until after dark,

now it’s early evening 
and the trees above me are back-lit by the full moon,

I’m almost here--
how ironic that my feeling fully there for so many others
helps me to be ready to be here, now. 

by Henry H. Walker
December 4, ’14

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

they help me be my best

who they were is still with me

they say that schizophrenia activates one’s mind
to populate the surroundings with people no one else sees,
so can death,

when people die, they can still be in our universe
as phantoms who can seem to be with us, still,
though they do fade,
part of me lives in multiple time-lines
as I bring forward the memories of those now lost,
and I relive our interactions with each other
that continue to make me much of who I am,

some attempt to clear up such mental clutter
by denying any place in the present for those spirits, 
except as caged in memory or whispering at us like the wind,

while I can, I want to pull those gone along with me into new moments,
within which each reminds me to remember and honor
how well who they were helps me be who I can be. 

by Henry H. Walker
November 27, ’14

Monday, December 1, 2014

a quandary for the teacher

who is at the switch?

if only what I think I’m saying
would be just what you are hearing,

if only what I seek to teach,
would be just what works for you to learn,

it pains me to fear
that it is the quality of what I give that is the problem,
and not the other’s inability to receive,
how much does the horse by the water
bear responsibility for not drinking?

or, expressed in another way,
when the light won’t go on, I always fear
that I am the one at the switch. 

by Henry H. Walker
November 26, ’14