Posts Tagged 'Writing'



Compassion

Compassion

 

Her ling’ring smile calls out to say

“My hope is running wan and thin.”

His eyes show pain in pleading tears

For someone’s arms to shelter in.


Their houses sit as rubble piles,

Their water in roadside pools,

But what can I, one person, do

With resources minuscule?


So, what if life would now be changed,

If I should be there, not here?

What tiny act of humankind

Would help calm my daily fear?


If I can manage one small part,

To do whatever I can,

I’ll build a bridge from me to them.

For all of us, hope is God’s plan.


I’ll save some pennies, cull my clothes,

Serve meals to those without homes,

Read books to those who cannot see,

Tend aged with brush and comb.


Oh, I am known by many names

In my harried, hurried day,

But my real name is compassion,

And I cannot turn away!

Hal C Clark – March, 2010

This poem started as an exercise from the book “Poemcrazy” by Susan G. Wooldridge, and I decided to develop the idea. If you are not familiar with this book, I highly recommend you check it out. It tells the story of how she developed as a poet.

Anyway, I wrote this because I believe each of us should do his or her part in helping others. It doesn’t have to be expensive, and it benefits both the receiver and the giver.

My wife and I sponsor (through World Vision) three 10-11 year old girls, all from areas where HIV/AIDS is a major problem. One is from Mauritania, Africa; one is from Rwanda, Africa; and one is from the Dominican Republic, near the area of the earthquake. The money each month helps improve conditions for the girl and her family, and makes it more likely that she can continue her education. The other part I like is writing letters to the girls, encouraging them and asking questions about their families, country, etc. It’s great to get their replies and watch their progress.

Greg Mortensen started a program years ago of building schools for the children in Afghanistan and he gets money for his foundation partially from the “Pennies for Peace” program in which school kids in the US bring spare change from home and drop it in a container. This program has raised a lot of money and helped to build 31 schools in the sparsely populated areas of Afghanistan. The people of these communities supplied the labor and the good will, and Greg has done more to bring peace to these people that all the politicians in Washington.

In our own United States, many children get only one or two meals a day during the summer (School programs help during the school year) a problem improved by local food banks. The purchase of one or two extra canned items on each trip to the grocery, and donated to the local food bank could make a big difference over a year.

We have all kinds of government programs to solve all kinds of problems, but I believe what really makes the world work is the compassionate acts of individual citizens working quietly behind the scenes. God bless all the givers!

Springtime – Sonnet 1

Springtime – Sonnet 1

 

When bright new earth begins to warm and brown,

Frost’s exit can no longer he forestall.

The tender leaf seeks sun and roots reach down,

And whispered breath of spring gives life to all.


Then comes a flight of robins, as a sign

That surely earth’s renewal is at hand.

Begin the celebration, so divine,

Of rainbow colors spilled o’er all the land.


But why display a splendid show like this

When bird and flower, nothing they will gain?

Humans alone can recognize the bliss

Which our creator, for us, doth ordain.


     Spring holds a promise for all of the earth

     Of life and beauty, and ne’er ending birth.

Hal C Clark – April, 2010

I’ve wanted to try a sonnet and I finally made the leap. As you probably know, the sonnet has a definite structure of 14 lines, 10 syllables per line, with a set rhyming pattern. I found it’s tough to fit it all in, but here it is.

I’m always amazed at all the drama in the early spring when all the flowers explode in color so wondrous to the eye. I know the color is supposed to be to attract pollinators, but in truth, insects are the only significant pollinators, and their sight is primarily in the ultraviolet spectrum, so they don’t truly see the color in the visible spectrum. Birds are brightly colored for the purpose of mating, but sound plays an equal role in the process. Less brilliant colors might be as effective.

So, what is the purpose for our colorful renewal in springtime? I think it is God’s reminder to us of His promise of everlasting rebirth and life. Just like the rainbow, He provides us with a visual reminder of His promises to us. I hope this poem reflects that presence. Have a glorious springtime!

Storm

Storm

White Flash and Rumble play at tag

While Wind gives chase to both of them.

Tormented trees contend the fray

By swinging with their long-armed limbs.

Like a great percussive symphony,

Their roughhouse play shakes earth and sky,

And many of God’s creatures here

Can find no place to keep them dry.

Drops like liquid bullets dash

Against the crystal window pane,

And tiny rivulets retreat

To find their way back home again.

Flash and Rumble play their game;

Down the road they shake the air.

Wind transforms to gentle breeze

To tease at Willow’s long green hair.

Quiet tears of raindrops stay,

Sad from being shunned by Wind.

A faint moon shines to comfort them

‘Till all is quiet once again.

Hal C Clark – March, 2010

This is a playful poem that came to me after a stormy day. They seemed to me to be rowdy characters engaged in active play, wreaking chaos, then going someplace else. I guess this could be a poem for children. Anyway, enjoy and tell me what you think.

Silver Angel

Silver Angel

Her frame bent like the cane she trusts,

The weight of years then bows her head,

In shuffling shoes she creeps along,

The squinted eyes cast toward her bed.


No daughter’s touch guides shaky steps,

No children’s laughter cheers her face,

The silent roar of nothingness

Dwells with her in this dark place.


But count the keen lost memories,

The golden grace her soul must hide,

And never share the tales of loving

Life when she was once a bride.


No diamond crown or noble court

Reserved for woman such as this,

’till God’s bright welcoming embrace

Shall bring her home to glorious bliss.

Hal C Clark – March, 2010

I was in a grocery store one day when I noticed an elderly lady pushing a shopping cart who seemed to be alone. She was using the cart for support and moving slowly. The lines of this poem began forming in my mind.

When I got home I wrote down my ideas and began putting them together. I have no idea of this lady’s circumstances, but this is the image my mind produced. In our fast-paced society, we are not always aware of the needs of our seniors, who try to maintain some dignity in spite of their handicaps.

It isn’t pleasant to be forced to ask for favors from others. I try to remain aware of the people around me (as, I am sure, all writers do) and make myself available whenever it is called for. But I must remind myself to allow them their space so they can feel that sense of independence. It is an important balance.

That Morning

 

That Morning

Early on that Sunday Morning

As grey dawn broke in the east,

Came the angels to the garden

Where the Lord did rest in peace,


Put their shoulders to the stone

That nestled to protect Him there.

Removed the cloth from off His face,

Stroked his cheek and smoothed his hair.


“‘Tis time, my Lord, to wake yourself.

God sends His love, calls you to be

Sitting at His right-hand side

To dwell there for eternity.”


On Jesus’ face, the sweetest smile

Appeared, to light his countenance,

With mem’ry of His purpose there:

To bring salvation’s covenant.


The glory of that Easter morn

Lies in the emptiness they found:

An empty tomb, a folded shroud,

As souls, emptied of sin, abound!

Hal C Clark – April 2010

On Easter morning in our church, we read that Mary Magdalene and the other Mary and Salome went to Jesus’ tomb at sunrise to care for His body. When they arrived, the tomb was empty. It made me wonder what might have happened earlier that morning. The idea for this poem came to me and I wrote it out in less than an hour.

I had never thought about the sweetness of that event, but I love the idea of a time shared between Jesus and the angels at the instant of his awakening. The idea is strictly from my own imagination, but it is the way I see it. A glorious Easter to all!

Serenity

Serenity

A scent is wafting on

The winds of my mind,

Faint and distant:

Memories of a sun-filled

Summer day long past.

Silver colored lichen rocks,

Clear tumbling streams,

And I in the middle,

In the company of

My thoughts.

Elation buoys me in

The purity of all

Elements surrounding me.

God shows His face in

Every perfect part.

I am at rest in

The serenity of

His arms and

I am assured of

His presence

Hal C. Clark

Summer 2007

I love sitting out on a pleasant summer day, soaking in nature through all my senses, being free of all man-made noises and objects. I have had only one true solo experience, high in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, hearing no human sounds, seeing no man-made structures. It is an experience that will stay with me for the rest of my life. I couldn’t bring myself to write anything about that trip, but this poem was written sitting beside the Poudre River, sitting near a group of pines, soaking up the warmth of the sunshine.

Some people feel the need to be around others at all times, but my heaven is blissfully peaceful and quiet. I like to exist only as an observer and see nature as if I weren’t there, as if I had no effect on my surroundings. Impossible? Sure, but I can dream, can’t I?

I am thankful there are still a few natural areas around the United States. I hope and pray we can save a few for my grandkids in case they, like me, look for serenity.

Memories

Memories

 

Fly away Sam.

Let your spirit soar and

Explore the wondrous world you once knew.

Your spirit is free,

But your memory lives in me.


Sam was a neutered male Siamese cat who once lived with us. He came to us fully grown, long and leggy, having a personality I instantly admired.

We had a female Siamese already in the house and she guarded her house with a passion. She would hiss and growl when Sam walked by and he would simply look at her as if to say “Who put their galoshes in your lemonade” and walk on. That was typical of his attitude. He ignored conflict if he had any choice about it for as long as he lived with us.

The female eventually moved with my daughter to an apartment and Sam stayed with us and he was a delight to have around. But there came a day when he was less active and wasn’t eating. The diagnosis came back: feline leukemia.

I didn’t want to let him go. His illness came at a time of transition in my own life, and this was my first real conflict with death. This was a conflict I couldn’t avoid. I tried to give him the medication and get some fluids and nutrients down him, but with less and less success. He seemed to look at me and ask “Why are you tormenting me?” He didn’t understand that I was trying to help.

We came to a point where it was obvious death would win. It was pointless to continue distressing him, so I took him to put him to rest. It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I hated losing to this disease.

After we buried him, I just couldn’t let it go. All the conflict was still inside, churning through my mind. From somewhere came the small verse above and I was thankful for it. It gave me a sense of continuity, a partial victory.

Over the years, I lost track of the poem in my notes and couldn’t remember all the words until last night. In the middle of the night, I woke with all the words in my head just as I had written them so many years before. I got up and wrote them down. Why did they come back to me? I don’t know, but I felt I should share the story. Maybe someone else will identify with this story and be helped. I invite and welcome your comments. Please share.

Hal C Clark, March 2010

Who Are We

Who Are We?

Solitude

I often sit and watch life happen

From the other side of a glass wall,

Putting words to expressions I see

On faces of those lives I study,

A casual observer

Wondering who they are

And why they are.

I sit in a closet surrounded by darkness,

Hiding from this world’s life,

Seeking the safety of solitude,

Existing alone within myself.

I am at peace,

Separated from my cares,

And lift the world from my shoulders.

Hal C. Clark

October, 2006

How much do we tell others about who we really are? What part of ourselves do we hide from the world? When we write fiction, do we write about that secret part of ourselves?

When I write fiction, I look forward to being anybody I want to be. Male or female, young or old, in the present, past or future, I can make my choices. I can put my characters in any situation and decide how they will react, how they will solve the problems.

Some people say fiction is, to some extent, autobiographical. Does that mean we may reveal something about ourselves when we write fiction? How would anyone know what part is really us and what part is entirely made up?

I don’t have any really dark secrets in my past, but there are happenings, thoughts, and ideas I wouldn’t share with anyone but family, and a few I would share only with my wife. If we are honest, I think we all have a few things we would never share with anyone.

I like to observe people and make up stories about them based on appearance, clothing, and body language. Who are they, what is their family structure, occupation, what are their likes and dislikes? Importantly, how do they feel about themselves? If we look closely, they tell us a lot about themselves.

Unfortunately, there are a few people who are experts at hiding who they really are, and they are the scariest true life characters. The shooters at Columbine High School had everyone fooled. There have been a couple of kidnapping cases in recent years where the kidnappers lived in ordinary neighborhoods with their victims without detection. There are many women, victims of abuse, who never saw the abusive nature of their husbands before marriage.

So, you may be revealing something about yourself through your appearance, habits, and body language, or even what you write about or read about, but it probably won’t be anything really important. What are your ideas on people and what they say about themselves?

Memorial – OKC

Memorial – OKC

In a fragment of a moment they were gone.

Sitting, standing, smiling, stumbling, tumbling

Twisting, flying, crashing, crushing, sobbing,

Bleeding, exhaling, growing cold…, still.

So still.

Snuffed out by brutal hatred like half-burned candles

Under some cruel, hellish breath,

And nineteen tiny candles

Only briefly touched by flame.

So brief.

In the quietness of evening a broken assemblage

Of departed souls sit mute within

Glowing rows of straight glass chairs

Cascading gently down a grassy slope

So serene

With no laughing conversation, giggle, sigh

On chairs with names carefully inscribed

Sit squads of silenced soldiers

Unwillingly recruited to an obscure battle never won.

So quiet.

In this holy place, consecrated with

The spilled blood of each departed,

Visitors pause, listening, sensing the silent

Presence of kindred strangers, and pleading

For a breath from even one.

So final.

In this sacred place I breathe the air they breathed,

Just before they breathed no more

I sense the pain and ecstasy and hopes

And fears and joys they must have felt before

Being stolen from their families

So unfair.

Some, swallowed by inferno and yet

Somehow untouched, in pain still ask,

“Why them and why not me?”

They weep and pray for those who died

And promise, “I’ll always remember.”

Please remember.

Hal C Clark – Feb 2010


About Memorial – See more at http://www.oklahomacitynationalmemorial.org


The morning of Wednesday, April 19, 1995 began as a normal, bright spring morning in Oklahoma City. Then, at 9:02 a.m. a rental truck parked in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, loaded with tons of explosives shaped to bring about maximum death and destruction, exploded. One hundred forty-nine adults and nineteen children were killed in the blast, most instantaneously. Rescue efforts occupied the following week while the Nation mourned.

Several years ago, on a sunny afternoon, we visited the memorial. It occupies two city blocks and is centered around the reflecting pool which replaced Fifth Street. An American Elm, now called the survivor tree, somehow weathered the explosion, stripped of all its leaves and with several broken branches.

One lone wall of the original building remains and is inscribed with over 600 names of people who survived. On the footprint of the destroyed building is a gentle slope covered with grass and 168 metal chairs, each with a lighted glass foot. On the glass of each chair is inscribed a name of one of the dead. The nineteen children’s chairs are smaller. But for one, all of these children were in the day care center located on the second floor, immediately above the truck.

Since my visit, I have been haunted by what I saw there, and felt. The memorial involves you and brings you back to 9:02. Even though the rubble has long ago been removed, I had a sense that the echoes of those lives still remain in that place. It is library-quiet; the only sound, the trickle of water in the reflecting pool.

A chain-link fence stands at the west end, left over from the days of rescue and recovery, covered with gifts of remembrance: watches, flags, stuffed toys, necklaces, pictures, many children’s things. These are the recent gifts. The originals are archived in the museum across the street. The gifts keep coming, fifteen years after the tragic event.

I think often about that memorial. I can’t seem to get it out of my mind. The above poem is an attempt to make sense of what happened there. It is so easy to love those around us, love all humankind. Hate must be labored over and fed and intensified by shutting out empathy and caring and compassion. Hatred is an anonymous beast that cannot be tamed. Why does it persist? Only God knows, but He didn’t create it.

Hal C Clark

Feb 11, 2010

Waiting

Waiting

I wait and breathe cool mountain air

Listening to porch planks creak beneath oak rockers

Deep vermillion crawls away,

Inviting diamonds into

An indigo sky.


Your image flows through

Channels of my memory,

My fingers tangled in your hair,

Your warmth pressed against me.

A smile lights up your face,

Accenting crinkles long familiar.


I press my fingers to my lips,

Point my hand skyward,

And wait for

God’s consent to join you.

Hal C. Clark

November 2006

About Waiting


As my parents grew older and approached their seventieth anniversary, I thought about which one might go first and which would best deal with the loss. My mom was devoted to my dad and he depended on her for many things, most of all for companionship. I don’t know if he depended on her for her sake or his own.

My dad died when he was ninety and my mom went on for two more years, although she admitted to us kids that she was ready to go. She just had to wait around for the right time. She loved her children, grandchildren, and great grands and looked forward to seeing them. But she didn’t have much excitement for anything else.

It’s hard to think of that time between your very overactive life and that time when you leave this world, but most of us will have to face it. The happiest of our senior citizens seem to be those who are physically able to find some useful pastime such as some way to serve others. For some, that involves family, for others, a church, for some, maybe writing.


Take some time, a few minutes a day, to honor older relatives and make them feel worthwhile. It makes everyone feel better.

Feb 10, 2010


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