Posts Tagged 'death'

Meltdown

                        We can stop gun violence when more people have guns…Wayne LaPierre

                        Texans should have open carry permits…Rick Perry

Saturday movie night in

a Texas theater

“Star Wars”

I hear a shot, see a man

in the aisle, aiming a Glock

take him down with mine

feel a bullet slap my shoulder

another shatters the wall beside me

gunshots flare like popcorn

muzzles flash like fireworks

then it stops

nineteen killed, thirty injured

only one knows

who fired the first shot

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Prison

Prison

How sad to see

so much humanity

filled with green bile,

masked in seething sneers,

wrapped in the cloak

of hatred, and

shod with greed and avarice,

delivering pain and humiliation

in the name of righteousness.

Where does love

grow its gentle tendrils

among such stony soils?

Where can they find

a valley within

for the vivid flow of compassion?

How can they force themselves

to live in this prison;

their own creation

of wretched hell?

Hal C Clark – May 21, 2011

September 15, 1963

Who were they?

Four young girls

dressing in choir robes

within a church.

What was their crime?

They concealed within their cells

the wrong DNA,

too much pigment

in their skin.

What did they want?

They asked for respect,

their American rights,

to keep their dignity

and opportunity.

Their sentence:

Death by dynamite,

by men shrouded in

white robes

and hoods.

Executed this date,

no appeal.

Hal C Clark – April, 2011

We recently visited Birmingham, AL and explored the downtown area where we came upon the church where the bombing took place. I was saddened by the thought of the hatred that caused this tragic event. These four young girls never had a chance to grow up, have children of their own, or enjoy the progress in race relations to come. As William Stafford would say, it was a failure of compassion.

I have been away from this blog for a while, but I hope now to be posting new work each week.

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.

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]),

Squirrel

Squirrel

 

Furry grayish red-brown streak,

Please try not to look so sweet

As you dash into the street,

Should’ve moved with faster feet!

Why’d you run out in the street?

Just to get a bite to eat?

Lying mangled in defeat,

Lying broken in the street.

Such a tragedy to meet,

With an end that’s not so neat,

Must you be so indiscreet

As lying shattered in the street?

Hal C Clark

‘May 2010

In the spring and early summer, we see a number of young squirrels who never learned to cross the street (they didn’t look both ways and wait for traffic). One day as I was driving, a squirrel ran out into the street ahead of me, then changed his mind and came back across. I guess I didn’t hit him, because I didn’t see him in my mirror. A couple of weeks later I was driving to the supermarket when all these lines started forming in my mind and I struggled to remember them until I could pull into the parking lot and write them down. After some editing and rearranging, this is the result.

For me, the rhyming pattern and length of lines give a sense of urgency and frustration to the poem. This matches the frantic activity of these small animals. By the way, the ones that live to be experienced learn about the high road: the cable wires that go from pole to pole over the street. They cross these non-electric lines with the skill and grace of a tight rope walker and don’t have to contend with traffic – unless they slip.


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