Friday, January 29, 2016

Siri can disempower

technology can diminish us

there’s a deep irony
in how disempowering technology can be,
Google can answer most any question
but I fear we have fewer questions
than we did when we had to work for the answer,
the trivial online can seduce us away from thinking and work
as we surf the net with no more redeeming value
than surfing channels on television,

we can know where we are,
we can know what’s happening anywhere,
we can now just click for a quick answer,
and we then forget 
to use our own minds, guesses, decisions,
our autonomy diminishes, atrophies,
we follow Siri and not our own reckoning,

we send out our evaluations from our school
in electronic rather than paper form, we save paper!
and I fear each document has less value
because anything we get online
is tarnished by its ease
and by being kissing cousin to spam,

I fear we are diminished by our servants,
lessened when we forget to venture forth
in the audacious courage to believe that yes, we can.

by Henry H. Walker
January 25, ‘16

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

mother water, and the phase change

the ice cometh, and stayeth

nature pulls me out into it,

when I’m in a building
my eyes are pulled out the window
to the tree, then to the sky,
liberated from the box around me,

I like to watch it snow while I’m inside:
soft white crystals crowding down
through the empty spaces of the air,
transforming the mundane into the magic,

this winter storm, though, 
has had little of such friendliness,
sleet and freezing rain have pelleted the view
and whitened the ground into a slick solid uniformity,
rather than wonderland, the outside has a stasis about it,
frozen into immobility,
more like what the white witch did to Narnia
than Bing Crosby’s White Christmas,

inside it’s warm and comfortable,
the power still on, necessities and luxuries right at hand,
we have time to get to neglected items
on our lists of what needs doing,
some house maintenance, some cooking, school work,
computer projects, even movies and naps,

I like to watch the birds at our feeder:
the bright flash of the cardinal,
the junco living its name of snow bird,
the intensity of the chickadee, the goldfinch,
the titmouse, the wren, the sparrow,
even a downy woodpecker,

and the second day snow does flurry outside the window,
between glimpses of sun,
all of us subject to the whim of a few degrees,
subject to a phase change of mother water.

by Henry H. Walker
January 22, ‘16

Friday, January 22, 2016

the geometry beneath

to be right with the world

the box can be who we are,
with right angles as human 
as a room, as a book,
as in the way we build,
as in the way we see,
as in the way we think:
look around the house and see the rectangles
within which we live our stories,

I have long felt we pull ourselves 
out of the world with those right angles,
for much of what we see in nature
feels more free form than tightly-disciplined,
I have feared that we can cage 
and thus domesticate ourselves,
now, though, I wonder,
for the natural world has such lines, too,
every growing shoot, every tree, 
is at right angle to the level earth,
all that falls obeys gravity’s demand 
to go straight down at right angle to the level earth,
even when aerodynamics confuses the issue,

even more, the cardinal points at the heart 
are 90 degrees from each other,
the 360 degree circle quartered into North, East, South, West,

we live our lives in the concrete of the moment,
and how wonderful those moments can be!
how even more wonderful 
when the geometry of existence reveals itself to us,
and we start to realize the blueprints beneath it all.

by Henry H. Walker
January 17, ‘16

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

in genes and nurture

for rightness to endure

the genes in me
want to seed themselves across the world,
I can feel their imperative to be, to endure,
as the vessel of my body, within which they live for now, 
that body is past the mountain top and on the downhill slide,
how far down the slide? who knows. . .

in the night I feel the genes within ache to endure,
for long minutes I only feel an anxiousness,
then when I realize that I am driven to fear death
because I crave for who I am to endure, for nature to copy itself anew,
yet old enough to remember  the genes who built the template
I have lived and expanded upon,
when I realize that I feel better,

as in the night I remember my children
who express the best of who I am,
my grandchildren who carry the genes,
and both children and grandchildren honor me and my genes,
while doubling and tripling my gifts
with the gifts of those who have been drawn to come together
in the love that hope must find to endure,
as each expresses the best of who each is and can be,

in the night I realize that we humans also can endure
in the nurture of our culture,
in the parenting, in the teaching, in the witnessing,
and it does not matter much how I endure—
whether I endure in my genes
or in the gifts I readily bestow upon my students,
my colleagues, my friends, on any who read my poetry
and thus travel with me in the journey to understand 
for we are as a species needs the software as much as the hardware,
I work to get past needing my work to be cited
as long as it can help potential to realize itself in the world,
I can endure whenever rightness endures.

by Henry H. Walker
January 15, ‘16

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

the sundering

the one left behind

any death is a loss,
as someone who was loved,
and who did the best she could,
who did the best he was able,
leaves us for a beyond we can’t fathom,

what I can touch is the one who is left behind,
I can feel for the sundering
as one is still here
and hurts for the one who isn’t,

we make our way as best we can
in a wood that can seem trackless,
until we, too, are the one who leaves for the beyond,
and those left behind are another’s worry.

by Henry H. Walker
January 8, ‘16

Monday, January 11, 2016

a level playing field?

diversity and inclusivity

each of us is a product of gene and culture and choice,
nature and nurture give us a playing field,
and we throw ourselves across it, as best we can,
to do our best at the shifting game, at play, at work,

as a school, the individual of the teacher
confronts the individuality of the student,
and we search for commonality for comfort and possibility,
and for difference for opening self into broadening possibility,

diversity is reality, for each of us is a new model
who shares only some traits with other models,

what aspects of self challenge the other the most?

I would contend that 
gender is the surest difference,
then developmental age,
then learning needs, learning style, and personality tendencies,
Howard Gardiner and Myers-Briggs give us keys to self and other,

how well can we interact with others
if we feel alone, though?
how much do we need others like us, 
at least like us in how we look,
in the ways we are judged by how we look,
to be comfortable enough to release ourselves into excellence?
the lock on our potential demands a key that works,
how can we know just what that key is?
and how much does bias in the culture
unlevel the playing field for each of us?

by Henry H. Walker
January 11, ‘16

an openness to revelation

toward the “Tao”

in Taoism we are warned that
“those who know do not speak,
those who speak do not know,”

there’s a recognition in those words
that a rush to judgment, opinions, advice
can come freely 
in an inverse relationship to wisdom,

I have learned in my life
to listen before I speak,
to think before I act,
to consider once, twice, thrice,
an idea or a feeling before I give it voice,

to be open to a contrary view
that may fit reality better than my own.

by Henry H. Walker
January 8, ‘16

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

into coherence!

the mighty pen

I love to make sense with my pen,
to have my fingers lead my soul
into thought,
into feeling,
into coherence.

by Henry H. Walker
January 1, ‘16

Monday, January 4, 2016

an emotional charge

sleep and the psyche

sleep is my canary 
in the coal mine of my psyche,

I drop below the surface
and, after a time, can emerge back into consciousness
gasping in doubt and darkness,

or I can’t seem to close the gate and drop below,
with a nameless fear of what I will find just below,

my psyche emotionally charged
and ready to be hijacked,

thank God my hijackers are often joyfully friendly.

by Henry H. Walker
January 1, ‘16

imagination has power

power of light, power of dark

imagination is a double-edged sword,
it can ruthlessly cut through humdrum complacency,
and doors can then open:
doors into wonder and magic,
doors into possibility,

without imagination there could be no empathy,
no leaving of the calloused comfort of the atomized self,
yet the edge that is so empowering
on its downside can make me bleed beyond control,
to feel another’s effort and sorrow can wrench me,
to imagine all the darknesses
inherent in the cusp of every moment, fearsome,

imagination can destroy compartmentalization,
the being able to hold reality in little controllable boxes
that can help you survive trying times,

sometimes I see another persevering 
beyond what I imagine could be so,
I wonder if a lack of imagination
can be the little helper
that can keep the sword from cutting either way.

by Henry H. Walker
January 1, ‘16