Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Where the "Gatlinburg" Fire started, 8 months later

I hiked Mt. LeConte the last of July, 2017.  In this picture are the "Chimneys," the place where teenage arsonists started a fire before Thanksgiving last year, a fire that exploded when climate change led to extreme drought and extreme winds, devastating major parts of the Smokies Park and neighboring homes and businesses.

The trail to the top of the "Chimneys" is still closed and access to the top probably will never be allowed again.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

where middle school students are

in search of meaning

“disrupt one’s thinking. . .”
an argument in a provocative book,
Disrupting Things: Why How We Read Matters,

the authors seem to make 
an assumption that the student
is too secure in world-view,
too allied with conventionality,
too complacent,
too allied with the way others say 
to think, to feel,

rather, I think the student
feels too alone, too different,
feels that the world of the classroom
often doesn’t speak to the truth
of what the student thinks, feels,

rather than “disrupting,”
it seems to me that the student
needs empowering the lonely self within
to find allies in its basic reach toward wholeness
in a book, a class, an expression 
of idea, feeling, insight,

I contend that students are not too secure
and need disruption of that security,
but rather that they know 
the world outside them
needs to be disrupted,
so that who they are
can express itself, become itself.

by Henry H. Walker

September 24, ‘17

Sunday, September 24, 2017

a harmony?

Autumnal Equinox ‘17

the air is still, at peace,
as if it pauses between summer and fall,
feels both the swelter of August
and the brace of October,
and thus feels neither,

the ginkgo, dogwood,  and maple foreshadow fall,

some of their leaves return home
as they bleach toward yellow and red,
dead dry leaves start to pepper the ground

in premonition of the exuberance
that will let go in about six weeks,

the garden is cleared of beans and squash and tomatoes,
the okra still exuberant,

 fall lettuce just sprouted,

the Indian pumpkin makes a final push
to set more fruit 

and sweeten what is already set,

my late gourds also rush to be,

we are halfway through a year that starts and ends with Solstice,
Persephone back in Hades today for six months,
this is a time of bounty, and incipient loss,
at school today we chanted:
“Equi, Equi, Equinox,
Day and night, half and half. . .”
we celebrated with cookies, half vanilla and half chocolate,

celestially we are in balance,
a balance we only hope at
in the tempestuous reality of how we live our days.

by Henry H. Walker

September 22, ‘17

Sunday, September 17, 2017

a willful self-centeredness

sixteen years ago, today,
our sureness as a country
collapsed with the Twin Towers
of the World Trade Center,
it was as if God hated our hubris
and brought down our own Tower of Babel
in hope that we would learn
we only pretend to be master,
to learn that the love of power, of money,
can lead us away from fitting into a world
in which we are but one of many,
or rather that the many is us, too,
what many seem to have learned is hate,
that we should meet the terrorists’ hate with our own,

a huge hurricane just became its full self
by using the excess of discarded heat
from our wanton use of fossil energy
to blossom darkly into a disaster
made worse by our willful selfishness,

I do what I can to reduce my own impact,

as a species, though, we are as heedless
as a child with no parent nearby or within us.

by Henry H. Walker

September 11, ‘17

at the edge

we ricochet back and forth

in Our Town
the protagonist, Emily, dies,
and, after death, is shocked
as she realizes that everyday life can stupefy us,
we ricochet back and forth
as we deal with the moment, the other,
we live at the edge of where we bounce off each other,
it’s all like a pendulum before our eyes
that hypnotizes us to not quite notice
how evanescent the moment can be,
a taste of sugar that moves fast through us,
and we forget we had it,

Emily tries to go back, and appreciate the moment,
but it doesn’t work,
she is devastated by the tragedy of how easily
we all live the surface,
and how easily we forget the depths,

after my father’s untimely death,
I have worked hard to notice the depths,
to see the chasm into which we will fall,
the timing is all that eludes us,
I sorrow easily, feeling the nearness of the chasm,
while I also feel the joy
that can easily envelope me,
as I thrill in the glory that can live at the edge,
that thrills me almost as much as it scares me,

waking up to the levels within which we live our days
is worth the sorrow that tugs at the soul,
in the night I wake to the wrench of a reality
I can deny in the joy of my waking moments,
I work hard to hold all the truths that buffet me.

by Henry H. Walker

September 8, ‘17

Friday, September 8, 2017

middle school is a gauntlet

My Dear Advisees

middle school is a gauntlet:
as you push yourself to move forward,
you seem to remember how much easier
it was just yesterday,
you feel how hard it is
to keep your eye on the future coming at you,
to keep true to the best of who you are,
while doubts and mistakes and exhaustion
hit at you, work to hold you back,
the gauntlet does its best to deny you
the rightness and the power
that is your birthright,

as your advisor, I hope to help you
persevere, to find your way forward,
to help you deny the deniers,
to break through to the best within you
that is who you are
when you will not be denied.

by Henry H. Walker

September 7, ‘17