Monday, August 24, 2015

CFS and Circles

circles unbroken

at the campfire circle
the fire centers the space, and us,
the dark pushed back by 
flickers of flame, 
smart phone intrusive beams,
and distant stars in the heavens,
connections facilitated by darkness
decreasing the radius of each of our worlds,
libations decreasing distance from others and reticence,

as a school the fire of each student centers us,
each unit, each teacher, each support person
as if each of us forms together circle after circle
to hold the light of each child,
to hold in a way to give it air
and allow it to know itself well enough to flame brightly,

the genius we can be as a school
is to know that each connection is vital,
the learner needs to not be alone,
the teacher needs to realize
that each of us is important
and that each of us is but a piece,
a piece of circles that have held the student before now
and will hold the student after us,

when we get together as a staff,
we must work to keep the circles unbroken.

by Henry H. Walker
August 22, ‘15

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

of rock, of water, of life

the ocean is an introverted friend

plate tectonics create the upthrust of California
and allow the rock of the land
to butt up against the sea as boulder and mountain,
the Pacific is a great ocean
whose heat inertia moderates the temperature
and whose moisture slips over the land
to, in good times, settle onto the mountains as snow,
whose melting flows enough to keep cities and farms going,

like an introverted friend, we can like the ocean and yet miss its depths,
we find a beach where seals slip around the jettying rocks and drifting kelp,
feasting on the fish we can’t see,
one seal rises up out of the salt water enough
to look us square in the eye,

and my camera’s ready to hold that moment,

another day low tide comes early 
so we rise in the dark 
and make our way to Endert’s Beach outside Crescent City, CA,
(gateway to Jedediah Smith State Park, home of giant coastal redwoods),

tidal pools!  where enduring rock allows some marine life to hold fast and anchor,
and survive the short time each day the ocean retreats:
a lot of sea anemone, whose green open tendrils draw us,

sea stars who mold themselves to the stone
and excite the artist within us who loves the shapes life creates
upon the strata it is given,

too many sea stars obviously succumb to parasites
and their corpses plague our hopefulness,
birds love the opportunity here:
the oystercatcher,

sea gulls who pose on the rock
and wait for an incautious hunting crab to reveal itself,

two gray herons likewise hope for a treat,
and leave, with some attitude, as we come near,
a heron into flight lifts the spirits.

by Henry H. Walker
August 15, ‘15

Saturday, August 15, 2015

coming home to the deep, distant woods

in the stillness of a redwood morning

the Cherokee knew the plant kingdom and humans as allies,
a relationship we can deny when we clear cut,
and particularly when we bind bushes and trees into unnatural forms:
on the way up the California coast
we saw Western Red Cedar
clipped into boxes, like boxwoods at Williamsburg, VA,
those from a time when nature free seemed of the Devil,
so its spirit needed to be broken for our psychic comfort,

today in the great coastal redwood groves in far Northern California,
roads and trails are of the minimum and adapt themselves to the trees,

huge pillars of old to ancient trees just stand there,

sometimes in the sun, sometimes in the shade,
and we slip around them in awe,
few animals live here in such shaded old growth,
the silence profound and still--expectant,
like what I know of a good Quaker meeting
when the world quiets, the soul quiets,
and God can sometimes be heard,

there is a grandeur of scale here,
the trees so huge they dwarf our cocksureness,

ferns grass and grace the understory,
with the forest looking close to what it was to the dinosaurs,

stellar jays, their descendants, fuss at us with a caw-cophony,
I don’t need to come here too often, or to stay too long,
I just need to know these woods are there, and treasured,

still, we need to come home to such a forest at times,
for only then do we remember the family we knew
in the deep, distant woods. 

by Henry H. Walker
August 12, ’15

as a hobbit with an ent

at the foot of redwoods

I like to be shaken:
by a sunset, a flower, a bear, a view,
it’s as if I’ve opened a present,
and it is so perfect for me
it’s as if the giver knows me better than I know myself,

Smith River, Stout Grove at the right, Jedediah Smith State Park, CA

that’s how I am with the great coastal redwoods
whose height, added to their breadth, scares me,
they put me in my place,
I am a little kid at the foot of the first mother and father,

in Stout Grove

I am Merry and Pippin with Treebeard,
an entity, a consciousness from before time,
one who speaks for the forest not axed into subservience,
complete into itself and with whom we can visit
if we are open to stillness and reverence,

we humans are talented at learning the way of things,
particularly if the things are “things,”
objects with no soul to confuse our mechanistic reduction,
a tree as the subject of its own story can come hard to us,

now research gives us the first inklings of a community within the soil,
of roots from related trees intertwining with each other
and actually sharing enough consciousness to share nutrients,

I wonder at the magnificence of the groves before me
and I wonder what it is I should learn from trees older than our country,
some as old as the millennium itself.

by Henry H. Walker
August 11, ’15

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Gualala Musings

Pattern and the Pacific

we are creatures of pattern, 
from the DNA that is us at the designer level,
to the seasons, to the day, to our roads and buildings,
to what we see with our eyes as familiar,
and what sticks out, different, to be learned form,

at first we can passively receive input,
our brains awash in color and shifting form,
till we slowly learn to differentiate, to individuate,
and we can become actors within the drama of our lives,

all of this comes to me 
as I sit at the coast in Northern California,
shaded by Western Red Cedar
with the great Pacific Ocean a hundred yards away:
a leaden green to slate blue,
all flecked out with white caps from the wind,
like a plenitude of small sailboats all over its surface,

a finger of rock holds against the crashing surf before me,

I sit where Gualala Bluff reminds the ocean it can be resisted,
and the ocean reminds the Bluff that it can not and will not endure,
sea gulls cut into the wind and use Bernoulli’s principle for their own ends,

a bank of fog lines the horizon 
as the brilliant sun slips toward the edge of our world,

one reason I write poetry is that I want to listen to the world
until I can hear the songs it is singing,
see the patterns it is revealing,

I need to feel where I am is new,
even if I’ve been here before,
I want to be awake and to notice,
for way too soon we will not be in the moment
that will easily go on without us. 

by Henry H. Walker
August 9, ’15

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

San Francisco is us at our best

the heart loves San Francisco

of land and water,
of heights and depths,
of past and future,

here in San Francisco Bay
tectonics, geology, and erosion 
carved out one of the world’s great harbors,
we perch on the side of a hill, 
buffered by the Marin Headlands,
against which waves and wind break,
Pacific moisture slips up and over
to shape large pine trees to point east
the way the wind is going,
and to the rising sun,

the bay is big to us 
and tiny compared to the immensity of the Pacific,
which stretches from here halfway around the world,

here in this amazing city
East and West meet and mingle
like the air currents and the clouds above,

the spirit of our country at its best anchors here--
a natural beauty to hold and not spoil,
a cultural beauty with which to embrace possibility
and help it come to be,
anchored in the bedrock of the old
and reaching out to the new,
like each boat the harbor releases into the Pacific
and each boat it welcomes from all over the globs,

no wonder the heart loves San Francisco. 

by Henry H. Walker
August 7, ’15

Sunday, August 9, 2015

that which was asunder, comes together

Katherine and Bryan

I have known you, Katherine, since you were born,
and I know of the challenges you’ve faced,
your victories coming into the power of your self
even more impressive, given the thwarting buffets
you’ve had to deal with,
I’ll bet the same is true of you, Bryan,
for there is power in you now
and it takes a forge to bring out metal true,

Plato had a “fantastic hypothesis” 
that we were before time two as one,
that we were wrenched asunder,
and that we seek our other half, the complement,
the one that completes us,

may you be that for each other,

at our most basic we can be lonely--
a stranger in a strange land--
may everyone be able to find the path out of that loneliness
to the significant other who grounds us and then lets us soar,

may you be the one for each other,
and may that which was broken be whole again.

by Henry H. Walker
August 8, ’15

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

sunrise and sunset, on Mt. LeConte

open to revelation and balance


the Anasazi a thousand years ago,
in what we now call the Four Corners area,
celebrated noon on the Equinoxes 
with countless markers on a butte for the Sun to play with,
as if each were a celebratory firework
to remind them to hold the opposing and different as one,
the middle of the day in the middle of the year,
with night and day of equal weight,

I’ll bet they would have loved Mt LeConte in the Smokies,
whose heights stretch east to west,
and at each end, rock promontories serve for us as balconies
from which to celebrate the drama of the Sun in transition,
as it drops and rises through the horizon each day:
endings and beginnings, 
sometimes clarity and color,
sometimes shifts through gray to black, or black to gray,

Sunset from Cliff Top, Mt. LeConte 8/1/15

Sunset from Cliff Top, Mt. LeConte 8/1/15

Sunrise from Myrtle Point, Mt. LeConte 8/2/15

Sunrise from Myrtle Point, Mt. LeConte 8/2/15

Sunrise from Myrtle Point, Mt. LeConte 8/2/15

I want to hold the truth and rightness within dusk and dawn,
so when I’m on top of the mountain
I end the day at Cliff Top
and start the day at Myrtle Point,
I want to hold the balance as in Ecclesiastes:
“a time for every purpose under heaven,”

I cannot understand those who deny the power of daybreak
and who cannot and will not consider a rise to honor the dawn
and deny themselves a few hours of common sleep,

to be as great as the universe hopes us to be,
we need to open ourselves to be shaken to our core,
only then can we find balance,
as the universe elders us with reality.

by Henry H. Walker
August 2, ‘15

of turkeys and mushrooms

early morning mood swings

early morning on a trail can be of mood swings:

bright dappled sunlight can lift the spirit,
as if nature smiles back at you,
then around a ridge direct light is blocked,
the mood switches to somber, muted,

in the light, on a favorite part of the trail, open with big trees,
I flush over 20 wild turkeys into flight,
my spirit lifts with them into the air,

around a bend not even wind seems to lighten the mood,
and mushroom after mushroom seem completely at home.

by Henry H. Walker
July 31, ‘15

a flashlight and our focus

the flashlight can create our world

a flashlight is a necessary evil:
it can allow you to walk on a dark path without tripping,
yet at the same time it forces your attention
to only the small, immediate to the feet,
and the rest of the tapestry of the gestalt is missed,

as we get older we learn the consequences of a mistake in footing,
and we get cautious,
our challenge is to give in to the self-centered small  
as little as we can,
and find enough pauses to hold as large a whole
as our hearts can circle.

by Henry H. Walker
August 2, ‘15

Sunday, August 2, 2015

a phase change in development

a new sureness

it feels like a phase change,
as when ice turns to water,
or water to gas,
our two granddaughters, aged 7 and 10 (going on 15),
have developed into an independence, a sureness of self,
that feels awesome, and sometimes troubling,
as each is more captain of her ship
than apprentice to the wisdom within me,

we cook together, and, for the first time,
they don’t cut my time to double,
yet rather do exactly what I’d wish
and I become almost sous-chef to help them,

we are heading toward when
we are important in their world 
as “a” source, not “the” source,
 just one of an expanding number of sources
that each will use as needed, and desired,
to help who they know themselves to be
to come more fully into her power.

by Henry H. Walker
June 24, ’15