Posts Tagged 'memories'

Debts

I am far behind
on my opportunities to use
those three words
so often thought, infrequently heard

I find myself wishing
for one more hour
with my parents

wishing I could go back with
my kids back to a younger age
to make up the deficit there

to listen a few moments to a friend
when I didn’t have the time

and my wife to whom
I can never say enough
I love you

Thankful

The yard looked stunning yesterday.

When I finished mowing,

I trimmed round the roses,

headed the geraniums,

and walked to the street to look back on my work.

The house, as grey as

springtime fog,

with sage green shutters

was trimmed in gold by the brush of afternoon sun;

all now just a memory.

My yard is there, somewhere

beneath a pile of

cars, shingles, fence posts,

the house an open dance floor,

no orchestra in sight.

Perched like a giant bird

in the stub of a tree,

my refrigerator still holds yesterday’s leftovers

and eggs for today’s breakfast,

forever scrambled.

From a shredded branch of a magnolia tree

a mockingbird sings his joy:

for the bright sunshine,

for living another day.

I nod and sigh,

and a hesitant smile swells from deep within me

as I must,

in spite of everything,

join his celebration.

Infamy

For our fallen military – Veterans Day

Fair Sunday morning

port of pearls

a child draped within mother’s arms—

battleship quays strung and fastened

swarms of flies disturb        awaken

a sleeping force gathers itself

to swat them away

fighter planes perched tip to tip

flightless, fall easy prey

Arizona, hit by piercing flare

ripped, gutted by stowed magazine

settles to her watery bed

as hundreds float stillborn within

Desperate dancers

search for space between bullets

a twisting, arching ballet

to tympani fortissimo, staccato snare

hot bite of shrapnel in treble screams

between oil and flames

a human log jam crowds the sea

with glass eyes and waxy fingers

wayward toe

torn lip that last kissed mother goodbye

others lie on stretchers

awaiting trial by triage

Uncle Roy’s dreams                Billy’s future             generations dissolved

suspended by marriage of powder and steel

in frothy, bleeding brine

Fishin’ Hole

I see the images as clear

as if yesterday

though I don’t remember much

from yesterday

My granddad took us

my brother and me

to a little fishing hole he knew

where there were sure to be fish

Our tackle – a cane pole

silk line, small hook

and a box or two of

tasty-looking worms

I saw the chuckle in

my brother’s eye

and was ready to learn

the science of the game

how to thread the worm

just so – to keep it on the hook

right away I felt a tug

and pulled to set the barb

my brother, excited,

wrapped his line around

an overhead branch, fish attached

we soon retrieved the three inch beauty

we filled a stringer with hand-sized

blue-green-gold bream

they flavored our afternoon

with pride

few afternoons since have

been spent so well

sharing fun and love

and a banquet of fish

All of Me

All of Me

 

I remember that night

when I was just eight

and Mom was passed out with

the glass still in her hand.

It plays in my head like a

scary movie

that never ends.

As I lay in my bed on

the edge of sleep,

a knife of dim light

washed over my pillow and disappeared.

I trembled as I listened to him

breathe in the dark.

*

He had never come into my room,

this man who lived with Mom.

He sat on my bed and the springs

shrieked in protest as

he placed his hand gently on my chest,

driving tears from my eyes,

the breath from my lungs,

and leaving a stain of fear

on my nightgown

where he touched me.

*

Still quiet,

he pulled my hands away from me to

a part of him that was

hot and swollen,

his pumping blood beating a

tempo against my hands

like tiny drums.

I cried out when he pushed his fingers

into a private part of me

and cut me into

small pieces.

I closed my eyes and hid what was left

in a hollow place

deep inside me.

*

He moved my hands on

himself, breathing more quickly until

he made a small sound and

there was wetness on my

hands and arms

that felt like glue.

Don’t tell your mom

what you did, he said,

and left as quietly as he came.

*

He has invaded my room often

since that night,

but using that angry, hateful part of him

instead of fingers and

each time taking away

a small part of me.

*

Three years and

I have nothing left.

He has taken away

all of me

that was me.

I can give no more.

As he comes through my door,

eager,

bare and ready,

and climbs on my bed,

I reach beneath my pillow,

place the blade against his chest,

and watch as it disappears.

Hal C Clark – February 2011

Each year, thousands of children are sexually abused, usually by someone they know well. The children are scarred for the rest of their lives, although many eventually learn to cope with the pain. They don’t understand why these things happen to them, often believing it is their fault or that they deserve such treatment. We are all familiar with the stories of priests molesting young boys because these stories make the headlines. So many of the cases we never hear about, but the victims are still all around us. This is a cancer of our society and MUST be stopped.

I do not believe killing is the answer to anything, so it surprised me when the line “I reached beneath my pillow” came to me and I let the victim have the last word. It says something about the desperation, humiliation, degradation, and futility of the experience. I decided to let it stand. It is time to do something about this problem, and public awareness is the first step.

Please leave a comment and let me know how you feel.

Collateral Damage

Collateral Damage

 

They haunt me in my briefest sleep,

     They’re never far away,

Their shattered bodies stay with me

     In the night or light of day.


From somewhere came a storm of fire;

     We fired back at the place.

Women’s screams and children’s cries,

     Red-spattered on each face.


Mothers and their small children

     Lay in gory refrains,

And nowhere can the guns be found

     ‘Mid twisted, torn remains.


Shards of a loving family,

     A grimace shrouds each face,

Embrace in bloody agony, their

     Bodies like antique lace.


How can these be my enemies?

     No guns or arm held high,

There, children’s cherub faces

     Without a will to die.


I’m in a constant battle,

     And one I did not wage.

I’m here to do my duty,

     Then turn another page.


No stranger, then, to murder,

     But like a sin to me.

To take life from another,

     Not what I want to be.


In this keen internal strife,

     My mind cannot resolve.

The killer and compassion

     In acute torment revolve.


And so, I can’t get past the pain,

     The noise and solitude.

I see the masks of those I’ve slain,

     Feel guilt I can’t elude.


 

They visit me in briefest sleep.

     They do not go away.

Their anguished eyes stare back at me

     Through each tormented day.

Hal C Clark – November 11, 2010

Veterans Day

This is a tribute to the men and women who endanger their lives to fight in our wars. Some are killed, some have physical injuries, while others have psychological injuries not easily seen or evaluated. Trauma to the mind is just as debilitating as a physical injury, and to those brave men and women who suffer this kind of injury, I dedicate this poem.

Nutopia

Nutopia

 

I am an ambassador from Nutopia

And proudly fly our pure white flag

My heart often yearns to go home again

So in dreams I visit and dwell without fear.

But there are no roads to take me there,

There are no armies, no treasures anyone would want.

And we all get along and let all have a life.

Defenders collect aggressors who threaten their essence.

Why do so many hold in their hearts

Hatred and avarice, intemperance, greed?

My thanks to John* for inviting me there

To a homeland sans strife bringing peace to my soul.

So I dream of that day, of that glorious day

When I can go home.

Hal C Clark – Sept, 2010

*John Lennon

I don’t know how many John Lennon fans are in this group, but one thing he was dedicated to was peace. Nutopia was a mythical land of his imagination, and it is a place I would like to visit, if not live. I can never understand why people must hate each other but I feel it must be based on greed, selfishness, or insecurity. I feel sorry for people who do not have the capacity to love unconditionally, as God loves us. He loves us no matter what we do. In that, we can be truly thankful.

At the 9/11 Temporary Memorial

So many gods, so many creeds

So many paths that wind and wind

While just the art of being kind

Is all this sad world needs

                       Coexist

We recently visited the temporary 9/11 Memorial in New York City and were haunted by what we saw there. Across the street they are building the permanent memorial and you can sometimes hear the sounds of construction.

A few minutes earlier we had been in the small church a block away from the World Trade Center buildings that had acted as the first trauma center, helping victims find medical help. It had been partly covered in debris from the collapse of the buildings, debris that took almost a year to completely clean up.

Here in the memorial are twisted beams and recovered shoes and combs and other personal items (including cell phones). In the basement is a bulletin board where the staff posts the comments of visitors from many lands who visit the memorial. Among the comments I found the above poem and copied it down. I don’t know who wrote it but it carries a brief but powerful message that resonated with me. It is a poem I wish I had written.

We will long remember the event, but unless we stand in that place and feel what the victims must have experienced, we have missed the most important part. We don’t have to hate each other. We will never all agree on anything, but we can agree to respect each other’s lives and grant each other the choices that God grants to all of us. Until that happens, we will continue to hurt and be hurt.

Gettysburg

Gettysburg

 

Today I planted both my feet

On Gettysburg’s broad, grassy hills

Where Mister Lincoln once had stood

To speak of deeds both brave and bold,

To honor men now buried there

Who fought for what men dare to seek:

The freedom and the liberty

To chose a way in which to live.

What thoughts were there in Lincoln’s mind

As he looked out upon that field

At circles of the myriad graves,

And knowing what his hand had caused?

But in his heart he knew ’twas true,

The value of our nation’s light:

Our constitution’s guarantee

Of rights for each and every man.

Is this the cause to make a man

Resort to killing other men?

Is there not any other way

To solve our petty differences?

The sadness in the spoils of war

Surely lived in Mister Lincoln’s heart

As he looked upon thousands of graves

Of men whose lives exist no more.

Hal C Clark

July, 2010

On July 1st and 2nd, we were in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania touring part of the battlefield and some of the museums connected with the battle. This was the anniversary date of the battle (July 1-3, 1863) and lots of people were about. I especially wanted to see the National Cemetery that President Lincoln dedicated on that November afternoon (November 19, 1863).

The markers were arranged in semicircles and as many were marked as they could identify, either by name or by the area they came from. It is a quiet place with lots of space and trees for shade. I sat there for a while, trying to imagine that day.

History records 51,000 casualties there in those three days: 8,000 killed on the battlefield, 6,000 more died soon after from their wounds, others taken prisoner, some unaccounted for.

Later I went to a house in town where President Lincoln spent the night and prepared the final draft of his address. The featured speaker was Edward Everett, a noted speaker of that time who spoke for about two hours. When he was finished, the President stepped up. He had been invited as an afterthought, to give a “few appropriate remarks.”

I have included a copy to the address in this post. As you may notice, President Lincoln had a very concise and complete way of speaking, saying more with these few words than Edward Everett had with all of his (By his own admission).

As always, I would appreciate your visit and your comments.

Executive Mansion,

Washington, , 186 .

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that “all men are created equal”

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of it, as a final resting place for those who died here, that the nation might live. This we may, in all propriety do. But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow, this ground– The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have hallowed it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here; while it can never forget what they did here.

It is rather for us, the living, to stand here, we here be dedica-ted to the great task remaining before us — that, from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here, gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve these dead shall not have died in vain; that the nation, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people by the people for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Abraham Lincoln, Draft of the Gettysburg Address: Nicolay Copy. Transcribed and annotated by the Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College, Galesburg, Illinois. Available at Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress, Manuscript Division (Washington, D.C.: American Memory Project, [2000-02]),

At the Grocery Store

At the Grocery Store

 

She’s not very tall and

She’s probably nine,

She looks up at me

And I see the first sign

Of a smile on her face.

It starts as a grin,

Then it moves to her eyes,

As wrinkles form thin

Little lines in the corners

And across her small nose.

I wink and she laughs,

Thinks I’m strange I suppose.

She and her mommy

Go on down the aisle

And then round the corner,

So I shop for a while

Through the cereal boxes,

Then, from a yellow-box cave

I see two smiling eyes

And a small, timid wave.

Hal C. Clark

May, 2010

Being a retired elementary teacher, I enjoy the interaction with kids wherever I am, and this is often at the grocery store. I get different reactions to a smile or a funny face. Mom is usually comparing prices or engaged in other serious endeavors and the child is looking for any kind of distraction. This poem is a playful treatment of such an encounter.

We are on the road and have had a busy ten or so days – In Newport, PA for an autoharp gathering and workshop; in Gettysburg Pa for July first and second (the date of the beginning of the Battle of Gettysburg), and then to Washington DC for Independence Day. I have missed my writing time and blogging time and I apologize for the long time between posts. I will try to do better. I am currently working on two poems, one of them concerning Gettysburg and Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address which I also plan to post on this blog. As always, thanks for visiting my blog and I hope you will post a response.


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