Saturday, May 28, 2016


the id of Trump

Donald Trump is the id:
the part of us that just wants,
that brooks no restriction
on how to feel, what to say, how to act,

that infantile part of us
that wants to squirm away from rules,
from the parent, the reality, that tells us “no,”
that maturity that forces us to act
as if the world does not revolve around us,
no matter how much we wish that were so,

maybe Trump is our Las Vegas,
a way to imagine we can forget what we’ve done,
a way to let go and indulge our baser selves,
and not suffer the consequences,

woe be unto us if the child within us
elects to follow the lesser aspects of ourselves,

how much better to follow the child within us
who is open to believe, to grow, to expand,
that child whom Jesus cautioned us
can lead us into the kingdom of heaven,

that other child leads us the other way.

by Henry H. Walker
May 27, ‘16
thanks to Google Images for picture

the ripples of his life

The Old Viking, Heinrich Malling

a great man passes:
a force of nature,
a man so ebullient in spirit,
so positive and forceful in surety of self,
that any of us in contact with him
felt the pull to live life fully,
to give to the other so fully
that we can fill anew the more we give,
with the more that we joy in life,

like a huge rock dropped into a great lake,
the power of his life ripples through many of us,

as his spirit lifts us up, we remember Heinrich,
and we honor him and his life 
with each ripple we spread anew.

by Henry H. Walker
May 27, ‘16

Thursday, May 26, 2016


both dream and nightmare

Gatlinburg is a child’s dream,
and an adult’s nightmare—

I think of Turkish Delight in Narnia:
a delicious treat that ensnares Edmund,
and helps make the evil queen seem nice,
and the problems of the realm not his for worry,

but, oh, for now,
how sweet a treat it is!

by Henry H. Walker,
with thanks to Zoey Martinek and Nancy Kelly for initial concept,
plus, thanks to Google images for Gatlinburg at night.
May 19, ‘16

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

to join with the magic

water. . . wow!

water is everywhere we are,

it shapes us,
we dance with it through mountains 
on trail and road,
up into plants,
up into the air and down again, 
in waterfalls,
through our turbines and water wheels,

water can be at the heart of our play and of our work,

water is us, and we are water,

how wonderful it is to be so joined with such magic.

by Henry H. Walker
May 19, ‘16

optimism vs pessimism

how full the glass?

should we be thrilled by how well people do?
or judgmental about what they can’t yet get to?

it’s a quandary we live as teachers:
what helps the glass to fill?
what can we do to slow the emptying?

I believe in students,
in their inherent drive to be their best,
and I know that each is a work in progress,
and that construction can be messy,

I love it when the way opens,
and they find the way into their power.

by Henry H. Walker
May 19, ‘16

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

rescuing the day

the gray releases color

today rain seeks to gray the world,
clouds lower on the mountain
and drizzle forces me behind rain gear and annoyance,

a friend looks out the car window
and rescues my gloom by a revelation of color—
she points out the vibrant yellow within the early green of the trees,
fresh and young against the brooding dark of the evergreens,
so like my students compared to me,

she also helps me see the art of the contorted rock on the trail,
with palettes of rusty beige and slick smooth gray upon them,
amidst the tough green of moss, dwarfed heath,
and white tufted sand myrtle, all alpine to the feel,

the day opens into vista and bright sun,
and on the way down the mountain 
two young bears forage above the road
and finish filling our spirits.

by Henry H. Walker
May 17, ‘16

Monday, May 23, 2016

hours of work, minutes of result

the mundane can block the sublime

there is a paradox:
after the very efforts of mind and body
to get the soul to a beautiful spot—
a place from which energy can flow back into you,
those efforts can so consume your attention
that they can clog your receptors
and much of what is around you
can be lost in the backwash
of movement over stasis,
the doing over the being,
product over process,
mud in the stream,

after hours of hiking I finally get to Charlies Bunion,
and my sense of the “eureka” swells for a moment
and then diminishes back to the mundane:
annoyance at trash left, at sharing neglected,
so much of me lost in my sandwich,
my camera pulls me back out into the scene
to hold the moments
so that later on 
I can be more fully here in retrospect,

I particularly like to captures images of glory
surrounding my students and friends,

all too soon it’s time to trudge back,
more hours of work that frame minutes of physically being there,

I work so that my psyche might remember that source of energy
and let it flow in shivers down my spine.

by Henry H. Walker
May 17, ‘16

Sunday, May 22, 2016

to breathe in its realness

to smell a bear

“I smell a bear!”

cars slow,
slip off the road
into spaces not designed for them,
people erupt out, 
cameras aim,

so we too join the crowd, the search,

we follow a black furtive shape
as it slips through the woods,
completely in its own world,
just exploring and looking for a snack,

our spirits smell the bear:
we need to breathe in the realness of its existence.

by Henry H. Walker
May 18, ‘16

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Big Creek vs Pigeon River

water wild, water tamed

Big Creek is larger than many rivers in the these mountains—
clear as water gets,
letting loose the green and black of its depths,
the white, where, dropping, it froths after rocks,

just downstream a hydroelectric plant sits
and forces the Pigeon River to flow through its turbines
and transform dropping water into electricity
for our microwaves and electronic tools,

how challenging it is to need water tamed
and to also need water wild,

we struggle to balance those needs.

by Henry H. Walker
May 16, ‘16

Sunday, May 15, 2016

the awful glory within

to see, and know, the other

I see people:
I then know them well enough
to glimpse the awful glory
of who lives within them,

for a moment I see the power of who they are,
a power that needs to be known,
for then we are not alone,
and we are greater for now we know
that we can connect and become large.

by Henry H. Walker
May 13, ‘16

to act from fullness

how to stand, to act well

moments, years, thoughts, worries, buffet at us,
as if to tear us from the moorings,
taking us out to where it’s hard to act,
the anchor’s loose,
there’s no firm surface upon which to stand,

a challenge for the teacher
is both to help enable the leap forward
into what the young adult should know,
then figure out how to act,
and also to help enable that same learner
to remember their foundations of belief, 
maybe in the magic of fairy and unicorn and Santa Claus?
certainly in the rightness they can bring to bear
upon their world, their birthright from their faith,

I seek to remember that I should act
from out of the overflowing fullness of my love for the other,
for the student becoming,
and to not be too hard on myself, 
for, if I do, then I can feel adrift,
and forget where and how to stand 
in order to act from out of my vision
of what can be, what should be, what will be.

by Henry H. Walker
May 13, ‘16

Thursday, May 12, 2016

a Native American prayer: the cardinal points

Once again, I share a meditation I really like.  It's also from Eknath Easwaran's book God Makes the Rivers To Flow: An Anthology of the World's Sacred Poetry and Prose.

Great Life-Giving Spirit

Great Spirit of Love, come to me with the power of the North.
Make me courageous when the cold winds of life fall upon me.

Give me strength and endurance for everything
that is harsh, everything that hurts,
everything that makes me squint.
Make me move through life
ready to take what comes from the North.

Spirit who comes out of the East,
come to me with the power of the rising sun.
Let there be light in my word.
Let there be light on the path that I walk.
Let me remember always that you give the gift of a new day.
Never let me be burdened with sorrow by not starting over.

Great Spirit of creation,
send me the warm and soothing winds from the South.
Comfort me and caress me when I am tired and cold.
Enfold me as your gentle breezes enfold your leaves on the trees.
And as you give to all the earth your warm, moving, wind,
Give to me so that I may grow close to you in warmth.

Great life-giving Spirit,
I face the West,
the direction of the sundown.
Let me remember every day that the moment will come
when my sun will go down.
Never let me forget that I must fade into you.
Give me beautiful color.
Give me a great sky for setting,
and when it is time to meet you, 
I come with glory.

And Giver of all life, I pray to you from the earth,
help me to remember as I touch the earth
that I am little and need your pity.
Help me to be thankful for the gift of the earth
and never to walk hurtfully on the world.
Bless me to love what comes from mother earth
and teach me how to love your gifts.

Great Spirit of the heavens,
lift me up to you
that my heart may worship you
and come to you in glory.
Hold in my memory that you are my Creator,
greater than I,
eager for my good life.
Let everything that is in the world
lift my mind,
and my heart, and my life to you
so that we may come always to you 
in truth and in heart.

Native American Tradition

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

a sharing from a great poet, from the Sufi tradition of Islam

here is something different from me, a meditation I am using a lot these days, hope it speaks to you, too

A Garden beyond Paradise

Everything you see has its roots in the Unseen world.
The forms may change, yet the essence remains the same.

Every wondrous sight will vanish.
Every sweet word will fade.
But do not be disheartened,
The Source they come from is eternal—
Growing, branching out, giving new life and new joy.

Why do you weep?—
That Source is within you,
And this whole world is springing up from it.

The Source is full,
Its waters are ever flowing,
Do not grieve, drink your fill!
Don’t think it will ever run dry—
This is the endless Ocean!

From the moment you came into this world
A ladder was placed in front of you 
that you might escape.

From earth you became plant.
From plant you became animal.
Afterwards you became a human being,
Endowed with knowledge, intellect, and faith.

Behold the body, born of dust—
how perfect it has become!

Why should you fear its end?
When were you ever made less by dying?

When you pass beyond this human form, 
No doubt you will become an angel
And soar through the heavens!

But don’t stop there, even heavenly bodies become old.

Pass again from the heavenly realm
and plunge into the vast ocean of Consciousness.
Let the drop of water that is you 
become a hundred mighty seas.

But do not think that the drop alone
Becomes the Ocean—
the Ocean, too, becomes the drop! 

by Jalaluddin Rumi
quoted in God Makes the Rivers To Flow: An Anthology of the World's Sacred Poetry and Prose, by Eknath Easwaran, pp.246-247, available through Amazon

Monday, May 9, 2016

soon can come absence

a slip with age

to step here and there
and expect that muscles and balance
will know just what to do,
know how to compensate for anything irregular on their own,
small tricks of the body that can slip with age,

to start a sentence
and expect that the mind will retrieve
name and word as needed,
the neurons within firing clear,

how wonderful such commonplace abilities are,
though it’s only their absence
that allows us to realize their presence,

on a recent trek in New Zealand
I lightly wrenched a leg
and I had to compensate 
by thinking out each step for days,

let me appreciate all that is present,
for way too soon can come absence.

by Henry H. Walker
May 8, ‘16

Thursday, May 5, 2016

revealing more than feels comfortable

from out of the exuberance of my love?

why not retire?
why not quit making the effort?
why not go gently into denouement?
why not use time and energy still left to me
for callings that do not demand so much of my self?

I remember my mother describing my father
as readily persevering when he was exhausted,
her judgment readily visited upon another
who would quit the effort when he got too tired,

I know I have a mighty super-ego in me,
a driving conscience that brooks no slackness, no lesser, 
that is, to the child in me, a father harsh in expectation,
harsh in demand, harsh like a slap to the slack,

my tentative self needs reassurance,
so I crave acknowledgement, unqualified approval and support,
and I fear to be found lacking, lesser, late,
diminished from what I could and should be,

before I got fully into teaching, 
I wrote of the importance of making teacher self dispensable to the learner,
of not inculcating dependence upon teacher as guide,
now I feel I need to not just be dispensable
but also to be as invisible as I can be,
like an enzyme that allows change, while standing aside,
so that the learner rightly takes credit
and fully owns the emergence into power,

much of me is an introvert, one daunted by the social,
exhausted by the dance
where my moves must find and follow 
the moves of the others,
I am good at the extrovert,
for I care and know well who the others are, and can be,

yet I need to be there for others
from out of the exuberance of my love,
not from a checking-off of duties imposed upon me
by a desperate need for overt approval,

I am who I am,
and I need to work more to get right
with whom I feel God to be
than to get right with the super-ego within me
who feels itself to be the voice of a judging God,
and drives me to clutch at affirmations
to balance how diminished I can feel myself to be.

by Henry H. Walker
May 1, ’16

the pleasant, and the smart


I love to be there for upper school theater,

I particularly savor performances of young adults
whom I’ve known in early versions of themselves as actor,
and now tonight coming even more fully into their power,
I also savor actors whose past was elsewhere
and who bring their present fully, masterfully, here,

the vehicle? Harvey,
a tight flame of hope amidst the darkness
with which the tyranny of the materially real
works to supplant the flame of the imaginatively real,

as we grow up we are empowered by the tools of doing,
by the adult breadth of knowing,
and we can too easily forget the child’s tools of being,
the depth that a moment of the seemingly commonplace can have,

Harvey reminds us to hold on to the best 
that the childlike can perceive and act upon,

how to be “so pleasant” and not just “so smart.”

by Henry H. Walker
May 4, '16

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

a deficit disorder

reordered by nature

sometimes when I’ve found the way
to work myself up into unbridled nature,
I’ve brought within me concerns
that pull my attention away
from the spirited cacophony
of mazing forest and fluidly live stream,
that bridle me as some worldly anxiousness rides me,

I remember well a gorgeously wintry snowfall up here 
when I could only think of needing a car
and figuring what monthly payments we might manage,
visions of figures dancing in my head
when a wonderland presented itself before my eyes,

today I wrench myself away from all the “doing”
that defines me and gives me self-worth,
all the connections I work so hard to build and maintain:
students, colleagues, wife, the needs of household and garden,
all those important ties that help tell me
who I am and that give me worth,

as I drive across North Carolina by myself,
I find myself alone and scared,
I question who I am and who I could be
without the ever-present definition
of me in connection to the other,
I love other people,
I see them, feel the effort of their being,
and applaud every step forward each can make,

yet I also get tired,

most important to me? my wife,
together we make a one,
even there, though, I need an absence
so that I can reboot
and find myself more present to each moment,

on the drive I feel lost for a time
until my systems start waking up anew
and I find wildflowers on mountain top and within the valley,
until I follow through on logistics
for bringing my students up into the mountains
from whence can cometh their own rebooting,

all of us can be disordered
when we suffer from the absence of nature,

as I start to write this poem,
five kids start up the creek:
exploring, yelling, discovering, rebooting their own selves,

now I need more to hear the silence of the woods
and the self-contained murmuring of the stream
than the exuberance of kids, now healing in nature,
so I wander up into the woods, deeper than usual,
and I almost realize the center before me,
the grounding I need,
until a multitude of bugs 
distracts me into annoyance.

by Henry H. Walker
April 29, ’16

Monday, May 2, 2016

the queen of wildflowers

lady slippers

today, my feet return me
to where I hoped to find
lady-slippers, a gorgeous pink wildflower,
so exuberant and perfect in its beauty
it is as an indulged queen to other flowers,

I come around a bend in the trail,
and there it is!
I am touched,
and my camera touches it,
and then its sisters, again and again,
so that I can remember this moment of glory,

high up on the mountain earlier today,
I found “sarvis” a-bloom:
a tree exuberant,

one who rushes to be and flower
when winter slips away enough to allow it,

two days pass, and in another part of the forest,
I reprise discovery with two perfect yellow lady slippers,
who have even ruled human feet
to make a side trail to find them,

if a flower blooms in the forest,
and someone is there to see it, and appreciate it,
we are richer. . .

is it? 

by Henry H. Walker
April 29, ’16