Saturday, May 25, 2019

both adding and subtracting

to live rightly

“You know we all hate ourselves. . .”
declared a young teenager in my class
in her essay on the meaning of life,

another student announced:
“What do I know?  I’m only 13.”

none of us easily know it all,
or even a large percentage of “it all,”

age and experience can add to understanding, 
but they can also subtract,
as we forget the wonder of the new, the small,
as we forget how to see a fairy,
or how to build a world with LEGOS,

age and experience can help us with science, 
with common sense,
but they can also dull the sharp edge of our emotions,
so we can forget how to value what’s important,

what good is power 
if we don’t know how 
to use it rightly?

by Henry H. Walker
May 22, ‘19

doubt on the trail

the test of a hike

every hard hike makes me question myself:
is this, finally, too much for me?
I question whether body or will will fail,
while each victory feels good,
I know it is also only a temporary truce
in a war I will not finally win.

by Henry H. Walker
May 21, ‘19

Tolkien: the movie, the man, and words

Language As Doors

story can mesmerize:

for me, the last few years
have pulled me into the Game of Thrones,
first as books who unveiled character and plot
that challenged me to imagine, to empathize,
to feel fiction as real to what I know of the potential of reality,
to intrigue me, and make me larger,
the production values of the tv series
pulled me even more into the people and situations
so that story became Story,

The Lord of the Rings
enveloped me even more,
as this whole world of Middle Earth
throbbed with compelling logic, 
personality, conflict, and resolution,
the truth of the hobbits’ quests
truer than I can easily feel my life to be,
my every day battles to let my best self be and act,
a resonance, I hope, 
with the archetypal struggles in the story,

I watch a movie of J.R.R. Tolkien:
the greatest magic in it
is to watch the man create first a language,
then to follow, inexorably, the Word,
and to realize the world and the story 
cascading from the Word,

those of us who write, who seek to wed ourselves to words,
and, together, hold power and meaning with our scribbles,
we work to build structure
that can, maybe, hold the currents around us enough 
to let us touch the transcendence that calls to us.

by Henry H. Walker
May 19, ‘19

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

let us turn round right

to see with 40/40 vision

What a concept!

to imagine life as a spiral
with soon-to-be 40 turnings,
each turn another year,
each self within you different,
yet also somehow the same,
the view changes,
but the eyes open into a continuity
who has a stubborn sureness of identity,
one who knows and judges
according to its sense of past, 
of present, of its possible futures,

we are made up of an assemblage of developmental selves
who increasingly can see from higher, broader, deeper perspectives,
yet also can forget how sure and deep our earlier selves got it
more than our newer versions might remember,
an 11 year old’s points about love
so sharp they cut true to my 71 year old values,

I hear touches of those revelations of truth
in the recounting of interview after interview,
somehow the multitudes within
combine into who we are, each 
needs to be remembered,
needs to be treasured,
needs to be heard so that we turn round right,
and act with gratitude and love for our moments
and for the self that lives them.

by Henry H. Walker
May 14, ‘19

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Arts Eve at CFS

art, triumphant

art is when we rise out of the mundane,
when we add dimensions to the plane
upon which we feel ourselves to live,
it is art when we add
the personal
the creative
who can come within us
as if a muse and 
then can act upon the world,

art can let us see possibility,
the way a next moment can transcend the last moment,
the way imagination can spring full-blown from our head
as if Athena becomes real, and helps us become real,

then a story births itself,
a photograph, a painting, a performance,
I have heard of a sculptor 
who can actually hear the call
of the shape within the stone,
that’s how I see the photos
inherent within the possibilities
of the view before me,
a photo can call to me
and I can precipitate it within my lens,

art is the calling that pulls us out of the mundane
to live a time where the fantastic
begs to be born into story,
where the gifts of voice, 
and instrument, 
of the body kinesthetic,
will not be hidden,

tonight is Arts Eve, within which 
the dancers, singers, musicians, painters,
the artists, the shapers,
claim a night to shine, 
and they do,


by Henry H. Walker
May 9, ‘19

Sunday, May 5, 2019

the power of their words

13, going on wise

I have a class of seventh graders
who regularly overwhelm me
with the quality of their writing,
with the quality of the self within them
that will not be denied the floor upon which to speak,
it is the first of the ninth month of our being together,
and I challenge them to write an essay,
an essay on the meaning of life,
the purpose that we should follow
with the steps of our choosing,
the essay follows in-depth readings of stories
within which the authors develop possible answers,
the strengths and the pitfalls of choices,

the quality of the examined life each of my students lives
and puts into words proves to the doubter within me
the rightness of the believer within me,
the one who sees each student
as daring to be whole
when dissolution calls so strongly to them,

one student doubted: 
“I’m only 13.  What do I really know?”

I responded that I see them as “13 going on wise,”
and feared that they see themselves as “13 going on stupid,”
another student wrote that she knew
that each of them hated themselves,
while still finding wisdom and eloquence in her points and words,

their essays, dropped onto the scale of insight,
prove the amazing power that a young adult can feel and express,
if but given the opportunity and support to speak the truth
that the mountains they are climbing allow them to see.

by Henry H. Walker
May 3, ‘19

Thursday, May 2, 2019

they come into their power

Into the Woods

on stage young people can reveal
how well they’re coming into their power,

tonight was of virtuoso performance:
actors using the vehicle of the musical,
the ideas, the acting, the singing, the movement,
the scenery and costuming and staging,
to present a wholeness within themselves
that crescendoes into a larger wholeness
as story and relationship captivate the audience,
and we swell toward rightness,

we are social beings who are also individual and unique,
on stage we can be true to the difference as to who we are
yet also to the commonality of who we can be,
when we partner with others in cast and crew, 
and then audience,
to rebuild toward a whole
that is who we are at the deepest and most real,

“Into the Woods” tonight was audacious and thrilling in its success,

as actors scurried to care for costume and self after the show,
I heard the director announce:
“no notes from tonight,”

that they had done so well
that he had no directions on what to fix,

how wonderful when revelation speaks clearly.

by Henry H. Walker
May 2, ‘19