Poems, et cetera

A newer world Row on Row
Peace and greed Old Age
Conscientious Objector Where is God's perfection?
Time to love A War Film (WWI)

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A newer world

Come, my friends,
'tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Though much is taken, much abides;
and though we are not now that strength
which in old days moved earth and heaven,
that which we are, we are.

- Alfred Lord Tennyson, Ulysses

Peace and greed

Keep your heart
clean with peace.
Don't get it dirty
with greed.
It's not too late
to clean it.

- Kaila Spencer, age 8
Friends' School, Colorado

Conscientious Objector

I shall die, but that is all I shall do for Death.
I hear him leading his horse out of the stall; I hear the clatter on the barn door.
He is in haste; he has business in Cuba, business in the Balkans, many calls to make this morning.
But I will not hold the bridle while he cinches the girth.
And he may mount by himself: I will not give him a leg up.
Though he flick my shoulders with his whip, I will not tell him which way the fox ran.
With his hoof on my breast, I will not tell him where the black boy hides in the swamp.
I shall die, but that is all I shall do for Death; I am not on his payroll.
I will not tell him the whereabouts of my friends nor of my enemies either.
Though he promise me much, I will not map him the route to any man's door.
Am I a spy in the land of the living, that I should deliver men to Death?
Brother, the password and the plans of our city are safe with me; never through me
Shall you be overcome.

- Edna St. Vincent Millay, 1892-1950

Time to love

When you love instead of kill, time grows long. When you preserve and create instead of use and destroy, time grows full. And when you give yourself to time, yes, when you open yourself to each moment — not avoiding either suffering or joy — then time is no time. Then time is forever time. Then you will be a stranger to nothing and to no one. Then time will turn your shimmering and fleeting life into love. You will be part of the Mystery that does not cease.

- Gunilla Norris, Psychotherapist, Connecticut

Row on Row

Commanders-in-Chief come and go,
But not the crosses, row on row.
They remain, fixed in place,
New ones arriving at a constant pace.
Even where poppies cannot grow,
Inscriptions mark graves of those laid low.
A resting place in hallowed ground,
For eternity, wi' ne'er a sound.
"Killed in combat," followed by some dates,
A few short lines record their fates.
And still Commanders-in-Chief plan,
How to destroy each father's son, each mother's boy.
Commanders-in-chief come and go,
Ordering crosses, row on row,
Even where poppies cannot grow,
Neatly planting young men, row on row.

- Al Mangan, Spokane

Old Age

I venerate old age,
and I love not the man
who can look without emotion
upon the sunset of life,
when the dusk of evening begins to gather
over the watery eye,
and the shadows of twilight grow broader and deeper
upon the understanding.

- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1807-1882

Where is God's perfection?

In Brooklyn, New York, Chush is a school that caters to learning disabled children. Some children remain in Chush for their entire school career, while others can be main-streamed into conventional schools.

At a Chush fund-raising dinner, the father of a Chush child delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by all who attended. After extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he cried out, "Where is the perfection in my son, Shaya? Everything God does is done with perfection. But my child cannot understand things as other children do. My child cannot remember facts and figures as other children do. Where is God's perfection?"

The audience was shocked by the question, pained by the father's anguish and stilled by the piercing query.

"I believe," the father answered, "that when God brings a child like this into the world, the perfection that he seeks is in the way people react to this child."

He then told the following story about his son Shaya:

One afternoon Shaya and his father walked past a park where some boys Shaya knew were playing baseball. Shaya asked, "Do you think they will let me play?" Shaya's father knew that his son was not at all athletic and that most boys would not want him on their team. But Shaya's father understood that if his son was chosen to play it would give him a comfortable sense of belonging.

Shaya's father approached one of the boys in the field and asked if Shaya could play. The boy looked around for guidance from his team-mates. Getting none, he took matters into his own hands and said "We are losing by six runs and the game is in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our team and we'll try to put him up to bat in the ninth inning."

Shaya's father was ecstatic as Shaya smiled broadly. Shaya was told to put on a glove and go out to play short center field.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shaya's team scored a few runs but was still behind by three. In the bottom of the ninth inning, Shaya's team scored again; and now, with two outs and the bases loaded with the potential winning run on base, Shaya was scheduled to be up. Would the team actually let Shaya bat at this juncture and give away their chance to win the game?

Suprisingly, Shaya was given the bat. Everyone knew that it was all but impossible because Shaya didn't even know how to hold the bat properly, let alone hit with it. However as Shaya stepped up to the plate, the pitcher moved a few steps closer to lob the ball in softly so Shaya would at least be able to make contact.

The first pitch came in and Shaya swung clumsily and missed. One of Shaya's team-mates came up to Shaya and together they held the bat and faced the pitcher waiting for the next pitch. The pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly toward Shaya. As the pitch came in, Shaya and his team-mate swung at the bat and together they hit a slow ground ball to the pitcher. The pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could easily have thrown the ball to the first baseman. Shaya would have been out and that would have ended the game. Instead, the pitcher took the ball and threw it in a high arc to right field, far beyond reach of the first baseman. Everyone started yelling, "Shaya, run to first! Run to first!"

Never in his life had Shaya run to first. He scampered down the baseline wide-eyed and startled. By the time he reached first base, the right fielder had the ball. He could have thrown the ball to the second baseman who would tag Shaya out. But the right fielder understood what the pitcher's intentions were, so he threw the ball high and far over the third baseman's head. Everyone yelled, "Run to second! Run to second!"

Shaya ran towards second base as the runners ahead of him deliriously circled the bases toward home. As Shaya reached second base, the opposing short stop ran to him, turned him in the direction of third base and shouted, "Run to third!" As Shaya rounded third, the boys from both teams ran behind him shouting, "Shaya, run home!" Shaya ran home and stepped on home plate. All 18 boys lifted him on their shoulders and made him the hero, as he had just hit a "grand slam" and won the game for his team.

"That day," said the father softly with tears now rolling down his face, "those 18 boys reached their level of God's perfection."

A War Film (WWI)

I saw,
With a catch of the breath and the heart's uplifting,
Sorrow and pride,
The 'week's great draw'

The Mons Retreat;
The 'Old Contemptibles' who fought, and died,
The horror and the anguish and the glory.

As in a dream,
Still hearing machine-guns rattle and shells scream,
I came out into the street.

When the day was done,
My little son
Wondered at bath-time why I kissed him so,
Naked upon my knee.
How could he know
The sudden terror that assaulted me?
The body I had borne
Nine moons beneath my heart,
A part of me . . .
If, someday,
It should be taken away
To War. Tortured. Torn.
Rotting in No Man's Land, out in the rain

My little son . . .
Yet all those men had mothers, every one.

How should he know
Why I kissed and kissed and kissed him,
Crooning his name?
He thought that I was daft.
He thought it was a game,
And laughed, and laughed.

- Teresa Hooley

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