Monthly Archives: September 2012

The Pain of Trees

gentle souls of slient will

The following was written in honor of the Sycamore tree that saved St. Paul’s Chapel, during the attack on the World Trade Center Towers, Sept 11, 2001.
The chapel was bult in 1766 and is rich in American history from George Washington and the American Revolution and on…

The Pain of Trees –

Some have said that trees are souls
whose speech is long and laborious,
that if you listen long and still,
you’ll hear conversation glorious.

But too, a warning goes with such,
that if you listen, as is told,
that years around will move quite fast,
but you, as trees, will not grow old,
but remain in time disjointed,
until a greater tragedy,
of humankind’s perception,
draws you back to human time,
there loose your tree’s reception,
from time in parallel, thus as pointed.

Of these trees, such lifetimes spent
that see the world rush by.
Ours, for instance, scurries past, intent
on lifetimes blurring ride.
These trees, in slower gesture, gage
the ether through their day,
yet theirs, in months or years foretold,
draw slow the words they say.
StilI, I believe their hearts are instant
to worldly changes about them,
for a tree will burn or break or fall,
if instant purpose befits him.

As such, their gentler, greater reason
holds purpose to their vision,
yet time’s response chains fast their motion,
a temporally disjointed prison.
Yet their compassion runs so deep,
that for us, their honest hearts do weep.
For humankind’s transgression
is to live this life “at speed”,
focused on our appointed purpose,
and the attached immediate need.
Yet these trees, with love’s compassion,
reach slowly, thus, to show
their kindness, that shapes care for us
in simple strength of limb and bow.
For through their pain they long to reach
with love and service true,
there save our lives by presence,
there share such deeper clues…

…by river’s edge in raging flood
the willow’s arms outreached,
low and touching water’s surface,
these helping hands beseeched
by nature’s darkest moods
when waters rage and storms do brood.
How many different lives have reached
a safety shore from trees that strive
to help a drowning innocent,
keep man and beast alive,
when fortunes opportune?
Who of us in storm or strain
have ,’neath these gentle giants, remained
in warm and drying solitude,
through onslaught of a summer’s rain?

In trees I’ve heard of safety there,
where man and beast alike
were saved, by tree’s with gentle care,
in perches found throughout the night,
‘bove tumult of nature’s raging rivers,
‘beit opportune, or purpose found,
these trees’ compassion is life’s sweet giver,
but what about the souls who’ve drowned?
Souls once lost, whose last path drifted,
beyond the reach of the giant’s stance.
What cost is rendered of the pain of trees
when compassion’s lost the chance
to save a soul?

What of their pain, when all is done,
and their chance, reduced, to gather
the bodies of the lost and drowned,
when God’s called truth such. Rather
catch a soul and save a life,
than reaper’s helper,
blind with strife.

In trees at fall of sadness setting,
I’ve felt their pain, their sad regretting
that their time moves long beyond us.
Their eyes in tragedy can not change,
nor be diverted beyond the range
of where the reaper’s death lust
call’s to the will of God.

These gentle souls of silent will,
despair for us, through our ills
that disjoint us from their distance.
So many lives they share past ours,
when months and years comprise their hours,
upon histories’ repeated insistence.
Such weeping, sorrowful moans they make,
or whisper love’s ‘cantation
upon the breeze, that she might take
the pain from such libation.
And so it is, these gentle souls
hold pain for life’s sweet balance,
that begs them watch, or help, or sum,
where God’s call forms a keeper’s valance.
Such bittersweet task it seems,
for those whose fields and mountain streams
lend beauty to God’s purpose,
yet, more than love
beneath the surface…

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Rembering September 11th

The following was written on the one year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks… September 11th, 2002.

As I read this I find it still ring true for me, and yet it echoes a concern for who we are today…

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September 11, 2002

In reflection of all that has come to pass, and with hope in all that can potentially be, I have slowed my world down today, to observe. I have witnessed emotions’ range and have felt the deepest sincerity in all that I have taken part in. For me, this one-year milestone, of the tragedies of September 11 2001, has left me with a longing that I must share.

This morning’s sunrise was quite profound. As I sipped my coffee, looking eastward out of my breakfast nook’s window, I was greeted with a broken sky and the rosy edged clouds from last night’s rain. Gray and gentle giants stretching toward the eastern horizon, gently kissed by the dawning sun. The sky held the deepest blue and set my view in a very powerful background, providing a triumphant and yet foreboding setting for the red, white and blue of the morning. My mood seemed to match, as I felt reassured by our nation’s collective resolve exhibited over the past year, and yet I felt apprehensive in the light of on-going struggle. As I sat in silent reflection, the words of Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address played through my mind. “With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan–to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.” I sat mesmerized.

My radio was on in the background, and as if called by my own will, New York’s Governor Pataki initiated the memorial service at ground zero with Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. The clouds outside my window seemed to change their color in response to his words, providing a balance of gray and white, while the sky’s deep blue lightened a shade, yielding a canvas for hope.

Moments later, former Mayor Giuliani began reading the names of the victims of the attack on the world trade center towers. Gordon McCannel Aamoth Jr., Edelmiro (Ed) Abad, Maria Rose Abad, Andrew Anthony Abate, Vincent Abate, Laurence Abel, William F. Abrahamson, Richard Anthony Aceto, Heinrich B. Ackermann, … The victim’s faces, those I could recall from the web pages I perused last year, began to drift through my mind’s eye. The tears began to come and I began to realize how much we have lost. Lost lives, broken families, and lost loves. As a nation, we are different now. We have realized, most likely for the first time that we are not an island of security. That our financial and military power is not what differentiates us, but that which makes us unique, and subsequently, that which poises us as a target of such acts of terrorism. I also realized that we have gained. For through our learnings of such experience, we have found a new resolve that echoes old values, such as those our very nation was founded on. And in such, we have gained temperate understanding of just how precious this life truly is, and how diverse and distressed our world society has become. In this, I believe, we can proudly say that we stand alone among our allies and enemies, for our nation exhibits a worldly sampling of all nations, all cultures, and all beliefs. Our lives and values are based in true freedom, founded in trust and honesty, and are exhibited through peace and compassion. And in such, we extend a greater love through our exhibition of this understanding. This diversity is of our design, driven by our desire, and forms the very mettle that identifies Americans as people of natural determination and resolve.

And yet, we are a delicately contrary people. For as we stand upon the virtue of such great values, we allow our gains and successes to wrap us in what we perceive to be our own personal, impervious lives. In times when our successes are at their greatest, and our challenges small, we exhibit an almost ignorant selfishness. We ignore our neighbors, we throw frustration upon our fellow citizens in traffic, and we seem to migrate to a gluttony of extremes. Our drive is focused upon financial growth, more service, less cost, and a need for exponential improvement. I believe that our behavior, associated with such perceived successes, is the very element that fuels the hatred of those we call our enemies today. Ironically, it is this same behavior that was once perceived to be the enemy of our nation’s founding fathers, and to that point, that which has brought us to this day of memorial. How ironic.

The radio’s reading of the names of the lost was only interrupted long enough for other memorials to begin, or for moments of silence to be observed at the very minute, one year ago, when the trade center towers collapsed. Three very distinct and individual memorials, New York City, the Pentagon, and Shanksville Pennsylvania, yet all rang with names of victims, lost lives, lost loves, and broken families. Tragedies beyond belief. Through the constant of remembering, through the tears and tightened throat of reliving the pain and horror, I made my way to a place in my town where Mozart’s Requiem would be played as part of a rolling national endeavor to promote healing and remembrance.

The daylight moved to deeper tones of color. The low hanging clouds grew gray, yet the daylight beyond became brighter and more brilliant with blue. Even a few little spits of drizzle managed to mix in. All seeming to reflect my mood, and hopefully the moods of others. Others who, like myself, were needing to reconnect, acknowledge the pain and loss, and take from that, some magic and secret element to fuel understanding for the world we now live in.

As I parked my truck and began to draw the will to move myself into the heart of the day’s sorrow, I found that I could not extinguish the sounds of the radio, still reading the names of the more than 3000 individuals who lost their lives that day. It seemed like an eternity had passed, yet the alphabetical reading was only in the “C’s”. Jose Cardona, Dennis M Carey, Edward Carlino, Michael Scott Carlo, David G. Carlone, Rosemarie C. Carlson, Mark Stephen Carney, Joyce Ann Carpeneto, Jeremy M. Carrington… Somehow, I managed the resolve to wipe away the tears, and moved myself from the truck and toward the theatre where many of my fellow citizen’s hearts would hopefully throng, along with the music, and mine.

I found a seat near the back, which was elevated, and provided a large view of the theatre. I sat alone while the hall slowly filled to near capacity. Many of the faces that began to sit around me were solemn, sorrowful. Yet so many others were taking this performance as if it were an event of opportunity. Around me, through voices overheard, were people frustrated with the remaining seat selection, people with agendas that were driven away from their busy lives. I heard comments complaining about the reading of the names during the memorial services in New York City, comments spoken in frustration that television news coverage had forced them to endure such monotony and such a waste of time. I found myself shocked that such selfish and cold comments could be made at a time when human compassion and understanding should naturally prevail. Only few around me seemed to be here to mourn, or reflect. My witnessing of such brought on a great sadness that we, as collective survivors, do not cherish what we have learned, and what we have lost of life and love, through today’s echoing pain.

As the lights dimmed and the music began, I recognized the seed of a longing that only then, I realized was growing inside of me. I realized that in the moments of the greatest tragedy ever encountered on our nation’s soil, was contained the truest and most sincere outpouring of human compassion and love. For it is the desperation associated with great tragedy or great need that drives us to acts of heroism, kindness, and sacrifice. It is this great human capability that I long for in my daily life, and the true reason that I came here today, to find it, and to claim it. Not to account for and own for myself, but to capture and echo as a prayer for all mankind to recognize and hold on to these values as operators in our daily lives. As people of any society or congregation, we truly long to embody these virtues in our own behavior, yet we distort our understanding of our own desires by way of our societal driven needs, perceptions, and the manner by which we market ourselves to ourselves.

As the greatest national power on the globe, and at a time in our history where the world is truly small, we can no longer allow our self appointed interests and egos to drive our actions within this world community. Our nation was founded from the phoenix of past tyranny and societal selfishness, and now, again, we tender that same negative inertia and believe that it is good. For the greatest thing we have gained as a result of the September 11 attacks, is that we are now placed center stage and in a position to truly show the mettle of our collective soul. Our worldly place today, whether we accept it or not, provides us with the greatest opportunity for leadership that any nation has ever been afforded. As such, our true calling is to act in the manner of behavior that provided foundation for our nation, molded our value system, and provided our compassionate acceptance of this world. In the name of all past tragedies, moments of great desperation and heroism, we must hold on to and exhibit these values in our every day lives. We must embrace and exhibit this deepest compassion, love and understanding if we truly desire to lead our global society beyond these days of malice and hatred. For the fabric of our very existence is now openly exposed, and calling for our own regeneration, urging our success and evolution. Without which, well, here we will be again, regretting past tragedy, memorializing our loss, and praying for a future peace, as nothing more than mere children of histories’ repetition.

J. Blue September 11, 2002

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Aspen Fold

the road that beckons…

When still the summer’s air is held
and road swept dust breathes dry and fair,
when sweet the colored fall’s elixir stands
the musk to focus there
upon the change of season…

‘Tis in the alpine’s aspen folds
where mountain’s heart and nature’s soul
reveal a seam where moments hold
a secret path and reason,
as to “why” your heart is beckoned forth
to lead the path on endless course,
“why” you can’t resist the steps
that pull you toward the shadowed bend,
“why” you thrill in falling leaves
and golden light brought back again.

Drunken steps by autumn’s call
bring childish glee and fear that stalls
the moment for unknowns,
but strikes a chord of going home
when ‘round the bend the lea unfolds
beneath the mountain’s distant stance –
that there on meadow’s edge you dance
without a thought of time…

Yet still the yearning beckons on
as through the field the path lays long
and narrow –
Draws you to the forest edge
where jumping creek and hush are heard,
‘neath rustling gold and kind jay-bird –
to precipice and mountain’s ledge!

… then as you flush in hesitation… it’s there…

across the valley’s whispered song
an honest spark of soul sings on
and thrills you to the marrow!
… and with your soul entwines,
returns the truth you long to find,
graces calm your weary mind
so grants you not a care…

So should it be your soul is called
to September’s drive, and if you find
that sweetest gentle winding road
that exits from the corner’s blind…
There be sure you wander wholly
to where your heart is stirred,
and find your simple nature solely
in autumn’s musk and aspen’s word…

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Homer

Homer – all soul!

This faithful friend bestows such love
to those who simply pass by.

With pat on head and gentle stroke,
release the daily burden’s yoke
and cast a calm relenting.
Sparkled eyes and dimpled grin,
my dog, companion and truest friend,
echoes truth throughout his values,
no lies and no defending.

He sits in calm and watches life,
beside my constant writing,
and hopes for a child to smile on him,
scratch his ears, thus confiding
the source of a happy grin.

His tales are tall,
he calls them all,
to speak of squirrel hunting.
Yet laughs and jokes until the end,
then lays him down in growl and grunting.
This faithful watcher of my day,
beside me walks and never strays,
he looks to me with fun and tease,
echoes my footsteps to only please
whatever my life is wanting.

He is my friend, companion true,
and I’d be lost without him!

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One Stone

Marsh and Lea

Rocky Perch

One stone I plucked from meadow’s rill
of stream in sweetest lea,
while walking near the green foothills
in search of what is me…

This stone so smooth, unique in shape,
so many stories held,
yet found among this peaceful green
betraying where it fell.

Born of massive alpine giant,
cut from freeze and thaw,
jagged, tossed to stone faced foot,
yet free to rest and there it saw
the heart of mountain nature,
meadow bloomed and marmot’s den,
dark foreboding winter clouds,
drifting snow stacked on the wind.

But years reduce to minutes
when from a stone’s perception told,
still jagged, only slightly worn,
no more that toddler old,
when cast from mother mountain’s stead
by harshest winter and strong spring flood,
so tumbled my little traveler,
to aspen glen in water’s blood.

Here beheld to season’s stream
twixt spring’s wet flush and summer’s green,
lichen grown on sunny-side
and mossy beard on leeward lean.
Free perch to fur and feather’s stride,
by kind bear’s paw did start the ride
where after years with aspens passed
and nature’s character so impressed,
our traveler turned to lower climes,
upon a spring in flooded dress.

So fortunate our shaping stone
to find a lodge and grip at edge
of roiling mountain spring in break,
so foothold gained at sweet fall’s ledge.
Such grandeur did our stone behold
for all the open valleys, his!
Where hushing alpine whispers blow
and eagles soar to heights of bliss
against an azure fielded sky,
bright sun through every season true,
befriended by the mountain spring
and all that he could view…

Years passed by in season’s keep
and soft his jagged edges rolled,
as through his witness, knowledge gained
and so demarked his wisdom, told
only by endurance and courage in his honest lay,
that here our stone had earned his shape,
yet here he could not stay –

For strong spring flood released his hold
that years had so affixed,
and down the falls he tumbled slow
so swept by raging current’s tricks,
until he found a place to rest,
in flooded plain and season’s stream,
and there through vernal ebb and tide
did find his final home, it seemed.

Such a place in alpine meadow,
‘neath distant shadow of his massive mother,
witnessed life in slower sorts
by elk and moose, in grazing hover
near his summer stead,
where flooded plain now turned to marsh,
so beheld life’s cycle greened,
and deeper, slower nature’s march.

Our kindest stone in aging,
witnessed by his smoothest sides,
portrays the thoughts of God so shaped
by years of season’s loving tide.

‘Tis here I plucked this single stone
from stream bed’s rill in mountain green,
and so his story told me there
that I might from his history glean
the honesty of time’s passing,
the gift of aging life,
and find me there a peace in knowing
that nature’s way is temporal wife
to all who stop to notice,
to those who pause to listen clear,
‘tis just the kindest motions
of one who loves you dear.

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Gettysburg

One-hundred-fifty years ago, April 1861 through May 1865, marked as one of the darkest times of our country: The American Civil War.

Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, 19-November 1863, stands as one of the most well known speeches in American history. Delivered six months after the actual battle, Lincoln managed to galvanize a divided nation toward a “new birth of freedom” and the prospect of true equality.

The speech, given at the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg, PA was delivered by a haggard, mournful and nearly weak president. Reaction to the two minute speech seemed to fall short for many, given the depth of the occasion. Lincoln was subsequently chastised and praised for the eloquent effort in the days and months that followed. Yet the truly succinct content and delivery of eternal tenants of equality, freedom and perseverance left the attending crowd in a dignified silence. No applause was offered when Lincoln stopped speaking, as the crowd was hushed to silence, and then a delayed and weak applause came after.

Nearly eight thousand dead and thirty-nine thousand wounded, captured or missing had resulted from the battle of July first through third 1863, just six months earlier. And as the November dedication ceremonies were taking place, re-interment of bodies from the battlefield graves into the national cemetery was still underway.

The poem below is my attempt to realize the man, and his thoughts and regrets as he prepared to give this speech, on the battlefield of Gettysburg. He assuredly walked the hallowed ground, and certainly struggled with his emotions regarding his responsibility to his office, to the union, and to these men fallen. It must have been a long walk.

This poem attempts to reflect on what I believed I could have felt if I had been there to see the man at this point of difficult challenge for not only himself, but our young nation.

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I’ve seen you there, in sharp relief,
your strength of spirit, iron will
drawn tight into the moment’s point,
silent hope, compassion’s fill,
so contrast the graying battlefield.

I’ve watched you reach for words expressed,
but none could hold your tears in check.
I’ve seen your furrowed brow grow deep,
speechless. Bittersweet this death
that brought the end to souls untold,
now shouting ‘last the fight’s undone,
“These loving arms no more shall hold
the hearts for whom this battle won.”

I’ve felt the pain, impetuous,
draw blooded tears within your soul,
and struggle in one moment’s doubt,
by you, this great and utter toll
one moment’s decision rifted.
For had you seen a sparrow light
before those words, you might have lifted
the pen and lost the thought
that led these young souls here…
Yet granted by the will of God,
your words, a nation sanctified,
that now at bloodied battlefield,
two parts, in union, these lives have tied.

I’ve seen that in your knowledge thus,
no ration found or reason made,
could ease the pain in burden, standing
upon the horrored battle glade.
In dignity you moved between
the fallen throng of man and horse,
your tears in gentle wiping,
your speech suppressed to whisper, hoarse.

I’ve seen your great reflection now,
compassion wrapped humility,
through generations time has wrought
and birthed our freedom, our liberty.

Yet if today your soul still wanes
in what was cast and needed done,
please find enhearten’d confidence,
that greater still the battles run…
for way of life and human rights,
for purposed divined in liberty,
your strength of spirit and compassion real,
has inspired right, has kept us free.
For we are one above the rest
who reach for truth and justice.
Our commitment to the path you took,
thus your soul displayed, before us.

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Grateful

Cirque Meadow – Colorado – August

Twixt fold of velvet alpine green,
land locked, this mountain lake serene,
where early morning blue on blue
frees an azure golden hue,
that rolls to edge of earth, it seems,
and so defines this morning’s dream.

Summer sun o’er eastern flank
warms the rising mountain ranks.
Doe, in crossing this resting vale,
turns to ask what tale I tell,
then through the fir and off again,
so witnessed here by ink and pen.

At water’s surface swept wings soar
in acrobatic play and chore,
reflect the thread of life, and more
there held in placid surface.

Stoic granite perching, sums
a grandeur where broad stokes succumb
to sweeps of God’s desire, runs
a point to greater purpose…

Herein my summer morning wakes
to what I witness, to what I take
in forms of image and memory caught,
unto these lines of living wrought –
I, more grateful in return…

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