(Adapted from Hardy's - Memory and I)
Called on memory to review:
where is Truth my youth thought true?

Worn through early years to mold you man
youth-time made wise use of its call
forming memories to last full-life's span
constant gauge used - to measure all.

Again asked in that same style:
where is Joy - once lit my smile?

Out-worn by heavy moments, life casts
still enlivens your days with glee
a point of view, hopeful laughter lasts
still remembered - treasure gifted free.

Memory, tell me if still you know:
where Hope be found - I need to grow?

Still brightly burning to guide your onward way
searching future years, dreams held within one's mind
bearing foul weathers, when clouds cast darkly gray
thus quickens all - gateful ones may often find.

Again queried of memory's deep past:
where flits my Faith, long years may out-last?

Still nurturing dreams of future's hope
belief first formed from what scriptures drawn
a light grace-given, by which to cope
God's gifted lure - to entice you on.

Then cried - O memory give your clue:
where is my first Love - long held true?

First curtsy met, then vowed to trust her mine
three decades bred four sons of ours
early years reaped a love of briefen time
still loved - though dwells in Heaven's bowers.
June 4, 1999

We never know do we, we just never know
what already abides, yet held hidden-cast
til some future time delivers final blow
only after found - first began in the past.

Those devious departures, delvings deeply done
wove from varied threads, later unraveled
til Time and circumstance can not re-knit its run
judge finally declared - condemned and gaveled.

Looking back out of Future's rear-window
piecing together sharp cause of Death's blow
shattered love and life, til left one a widow
neither one thinking - we just never know.
October 17, 1999

As far as one could climb yet still hang on
clasped its final stem, thereof looked beyond
with few leaves to obstruct, gave clear view
saw things from that tree - forgot or new.

Here at tree's apex, found oneself on life's leading edge
high-held though barely, weaving as if un-took the pledge
vantaged height gained a splendid lookout, and yet
found unstable enough - be a constant threat.

Soon I tired of both the view and my pain
took tiresome effort with hand's clutching’s strain
untempted by what world's riches deign.

Perhaps reached too high, beyond need nor worth
rethought, although view gave full breadth of Earth
knew could not sustain grip required holding on
although felt tempted there to stay - full life-long.
Out of sun’s heat, shaded by leaven shadows
not sticking out, hid by what tree-shade bestows
here no clasp needed, easily sat solid limb
leaned full-back against its trunk - if should be my whim.

Unworried nor betossed about, although lost that far view
yet much found quiet-held, more relaxed - free to think and muse.

Finding this mid-way perch far safer and secure
what's near seen more clearly, distance does not obscure
certain naturalness felt, though high above the ground
ancient oak tree like a friend - solid-firm and sound.

Much seen from here, stayed longer stretch of time
another thing, not as far up to climb
gave an over-view from what seen lower down
a safer berth than when high held - atop tree's crown.
Finally shinnied down, til took that final jump
stood ground-held, seating myself on a stump
once again placed at ground level, to draw another view
no fear of falling, back where started from - my climbing through.

Those varied vistas seen higher up, gave thoughts a wider scope
glad I made that climb, for those higher sights gave far richer hope
such how life wears and shapes its view in a single day
time taken to look beyond - viewing a different lay.

Shadows now lie longer, time growing late I would say
important to find one's place, now content - here to stay.
December 4, 1999

If each were treated equally, all would not be the same
surmised from life-long viewings of existing mankind
despite puzzlements each wonders of, to know life's aim
our proclivity to wish - equally so inclined.

Know before our quizzing starts, may be true or lies
needs to understand beyond strength of human mind
yet life’s disparity obvious to our eyes
each creature uniquely found to be - but its kind.

A benediction Creator gave, His penchant for Diversity
yet allows what that old Devil may - its preference for perversity.
January 6, 2000

Most people live in cities these days
a daring-do if I dwelt such ways
a world unlike my own, gray clouds of haze
people look past not at - with their blindful gaze.

One must be bred to it, born there would help
reared within its walls like some sheltered whelp
change advancing at supersonic rates
culture recrafted by foreign world traits.

Is for the young, those acclimatized to its haste
pace super-fast, powers cost becomes their waste
but a place to go then come back from for me
found too fettered, too fast - when there, quickly leave.

A different Culture unable to understand
its originallity seems but secondhand
prefer dwell elsewhere by - in my own hitherland.
January 31, 2000

Through thick and thin
what have become
or might have been.

Deep-loved or dismissed
well-known or unmissed
full or scant, found or lost
wet or dry - dew or frost.

Far out wide, near and close
without pride, meek or gross
healthy strong or frailed so
keenly learned - or one found slow.

Yet when one looks back
reviewing life’s routine
in the end, will average out
somewhere in between.
February 25, 2000

Remember when those shoes newly bought
always worn with pride, yet most carefully
each step watched, avoid what one ought
at first, few risks taken - but rarefully.

Weekly polished, laced up - tightly feel
when taken off, both neatly placed side by side
pulled off by hand rather than toe to heel
fully unlaced-loose - then out-flared very wide.

But before long, new risks required some daring-do
in time their newness lost, soon became an old shoe
til life with those shoes now felt comfortable and pliable
more battered they are, trusted like a friend - ever reliable.

For as well-conformed to one’s feet, more they are worn
til further usage scuffed, scratched, scraped, muddy or torn
becomes part of you, so dependable - til time reached
if should be lost or stolen - half of your life seems breeched.

How dismal life outwears, when old shoes die
sorely missed, know new ones won’t wear as spry
dreading that waiting, hating - breaking new shoes in
know that agony - stretching new pair in again.

Such these lines have spoken of, old shoes long used in pairage
such could just as well apply to old wives - fused in marriage.
March 6, 2000

When Mary closed parlor door, then upped those stairs
knew she’d enough of togetherness, he left there
not always what had said - could be her mood.

Whether treads steps for sleep or perhaps to brood
either way, he always felt like been dethroned
each time re-ran what had said - maybe hormoned!

If not too late of evening, later downed those stairs
put coffee on for them both, sipping as sat their chairs
but if later done, got up quickly - left with sudden leap
certain-knew on going to bed - would found her fast asleep.
March 21, 2000

Who could have ever guessed, by end of that single day
hate, hope, love, life, birth, dreams and death - each came into play
all in one household, Fate once brought like some wanton fey
both cursed and blessed each occupant - before went its way.
March 27, 2000

When young so much to learn
when old so much forgot
when young, energy to burn
when old - lethargy one’s lot.

When young, many hopeful dreams
when old, few of worth it seems
when young, that yearn for fonded love
when old - memories remembered of.

When young, Faith a vapid view
when old, one believes all true
when young, Death deemed light-years away
when old - know will not long delay.
April 5, 2000

As placed within my arms, heard his gurgled spit
when had well in hand, hiccups made clicking twit
up he goes across my shoulder, patted upon his back
took quite a while til all belched out - for once had the knack.

Henry and I sat a-chair, as snuggled him between my neck and shoulder
with bit of rocking, drifted off to dreamland - he two weeks I much older
precious hour both spent together, I to pray and wonder - he to sleep
in all that time never once squirmed nor moved - only I found one to weep.

But two weeks ago Henry born, be the last his mother would bear
in delivery hemorrhaged severely, gifting he - her final prayer
within minutes of delivery, Ester flagged, failed then died giving birth
Henry birthed midst those blessings of Death, Life and Love - varied values of worth.

A fullness of self-giving, lasting gift to family - remembers her by
here rocked holding her Henry, remembered Ester - yet unafraid to cry
held him like a son, recalled our own before my wife early died
thanked Bev and Ester for privilege, held Henry for an hour - sleepy-eyed.

Simple event once graced my day, no amount of money could buy
pondering splendors of both life and death, understood without their why
watched one hour, world all my own, Hank and me - Bev and Ester close by
now seems so long ago, both Life and Death mixed together - grief must ever try.
April 18, 2000

Another leg of Life's journey, one that never ends
an on-going odyssey Eternity spends
ever growing from what one's knowing and loving lends
yet growth also requires letting go
when old age finally arrived - now I know!
May 12, 2000

Probably more harm caused in this world by word
assuming what writ or spoken was read or heard
far more than anguish brought of war or body pained
yet by sharing tendered words - Love has morley gained.
May 19, 2000

Lone footing along Summer's dusty way
face tanned by sun, unfelt its burning ray
plodding with ready step, arms limp, little swing or sway
singled like some silent solitaire - a vagrant stray.
With twenty cows ahead and switch in hand, came their drover
some oft stopped, quickly grasp some dropped length of roadside stover
wore wide width of hedgened track, as goaded on towards Dover
working herd along that road - until his drive be over.
At two of night a-weave, swayed Mike McGinnis heading home
as within Mike’s throbbing head, sloshed ale’s addled foam
steering a wobbled course down moon-lit road, drunk yet alone
unthinking on the morrow, his swollen head - would bemoan.
Slowly paced as moon shown full, dallied - closely held as two
words softly spoken, tossed between that sweet colleen and Hugh
both wishing road would last forever, so could bill and coo
yet next crest would down them home, for there lived she - one named Sue.
With surreptitious steps, one could almost feel their intent
alert any movement brought, sound or carriage-light outsent
low-voiced plans being moon-lit hatched, beneath dark evening sky
some household would curse tomorrow's morn - night-skills stolen by.
By five of morning's dawn, when dew still dampened road-dust dank
mother skunk with six skunkies, wended along road-side’s flank
heads held ground-close, sniffed midst grass and weeds of hedge-rowed bank
should someone early walk by, here and there - smelt wisps that stank.
Two abreast they pulled behind, wagon high-pitched full of hay
scattering shreds of straw-stovers, close hedge-rows caught as strays
clouds of hoofen dust billowed, caused border collie - hind-stay
July sun drenched road, team and men - sweltered 'neath its rays.
When Springtime storm closed bridge, crossing Milloch’s Ford
road closed both ways beyond, almost two weeks rains poured
nearly a month before opened, replaced bridge newly floored
with no traffic, those housed there along - found life rather bored.
Was ever a time, gathered soldiers trudged this road in June
columned, regulated marched kept in step with boy-piped tune
defend their homelands where coastline lay, warred embeachened foe
proud as passed each home-yard, with dogs a-bark - fears old folks show.
Scattered remnants of tired men returning, late Decembered
uncolumned, ploddings unpaced - other thoughts now remembered
saved their homelands, coastline safe - yet saw too much to know of such
proud yet somber, yard-gates opened - old folks grateful with their touch.
Such tales centuries tell, country times beneath a summer's sky
episodes of ancient lives and hopes, those put to rhyme - poets lie
for of what reason or dreams brought to say, for whatever reason why
now lost to winds and dust, those well-traveled days - whence folks traveled by.
November 3, 2000

Twenty miles away, each day could see smog's haze above that town
its glaring glow oranged the sky at night after evening sun went down
twenty miles off, its smells and sounds beyond reach of nose and ear
yet knew in time its crawling spread - would eventually stretch to here.
Twenty miles away, each day clear skies seen above rural grounds
at night, darkness held as curtained black far beyond that city’s bounds
twenty miles off, stench and noise would not offend nose nor ear
yet knew in time its sprawling spread - will acquire that country near.
November 20, 2000

Each time we meet to greet, talk or help - perhaps may be the last
Death such a stealthy sneak, never known when its call be cast
life seems much a solid thing, full relied on as ever there
yet with but a blink, slowly fades - like brief notes thinned to air.
December 19, 2000

Agrarian - upon the land
ox or horse labored, all by hand
duty-bound, country-held day by day
generations farming - life-long stay.

Human need for mutual help and friendship
required acceptance of those about
tolerance tethered to those of kinship
strengthened by convictions - Faith held devote.

Yearly reunions midst both kith and kin
remember those now gone, who once had been
near neighbors invited in hot July
after wheat harvest binned - straw-stacks blown high.

Now far scattered across the world wide
oft unknowing nor there, when kin-folk died
untethered with close kin, tis kith who weds their love
traditions lost midst life’s fast haste - til unthought of.

Former roots unknown, to understand whom inly are
recycled friendships city dwelt, often rather far
as Culture evolves new human bonds of friendship
perhaps later finds - far better ways of fellowship.
January 13, 2001

Tis from those distant dreams that take us back
when ties were laid, rails placed - first formed Life's track
ventured on Destiny's road with hopeful dreams
yet found bridges need built - across many streams.

Side tracks early laid, soon became unused side-spur
retraced to regain main-line, thence whence to - unsure
hopeful may finally reach roundhouse's rail-head
thence to lay me down at last - one's last prayers said.
January 24, 2001

That genuine laugh with both eyes, gave it special grace
of such tis still remembered, his round and rosy face
one who easily laughed to please whoever said what
uniquely loud, longer he laughed - funnier it got.

A trait that would describe much about the man he was
tis oft said, a man remembered best - how his humor does.
February 23, 2001

With conversation over, phone re-cradled
supper waiting, bean-soup finally ladled
each hungry for food, yet what had phone call told
children chattered, but she to him - one now cold.

He'd known such ice before, should quick-freeze between
so ate in silence, after - two cups caffeine
with meal done, children cleared table then left
she washed, he dried - divided with widened cleft.

Two long-wed, knew needed space held with silence
eve drew late, children abed - he made pretense
in her quiet tone, told all phone-call caused
after, he asked her how she felt - then paused.

Knew by morning next, their forgiveness soon absolved
understanding those depths - mutual love had resolved.
February 24, 2001

Fifty years back, ventured life with purposed aim
chose beyond mere pretense, for was not a game
circumstanced by Time and Culture, yet a choice
launched one's future years - sparked by some inner voice.

Its beginning heart-felt, years after - ripened otherwise
vicissitudes and visions revalued, passing years revise
ever changing, til that choice matures one not self-same
first hopes, half-century refashioned - into what became.

First visions outlasted waste of years committed to
unmatters not what field chosen nor first hopes drew
worn with determination, til one's allegiance grew
half-century now celebrated - for what has made of you.
March 19, 2001

How so little we know, even less understand
despite fresh hopes, future events oft countermand
each person produced by Culture, place of one's caste
unsurmising beyond Death - how life There be cast.

Ignorant of all that preternatural hopes may tell
ancient wisdoms acclaimed as either - Heaven or Hell.

Struggled midst those fears and hopes each one must
from all learned, sensed and done, wrongly or thought just
til in the end, again rely upon that childlike trust
as Life slips beyond, certain only - will decay to dust.
March 20, 2001

Tis greed unknows worth to unpossess
tis control bestows dearth to oppress
tis power, needs money to succeed
tis lies fed on honey - that mislead.

Traits held by leaders who rule their masses
those in power oft rise from greedful classes
til Nature itself undermined, raped til dies
perhaps then may chance - Wisdom takes place of lies.
April 5, 2001

Of a weary night when sleep would not come
logic of my thinking could not be won
outwore beyond the mind til over-tasked
made cry to fateful Time - fearfully asked.

Where now is my lost youth with all its dreams
crafting those delights, one's future schemes?
Hollowed echoes resonated like grunts:
outgrew worth of Time - freely given once.

Where now is my peacefulness, then had known
soothing those harsh vicissitudes, others thrown?
Shallow whispers barely heard, reached my ears
lost to frets of loneliness - grief and fears.

Where now is my ready laugh and smile
once outlasted worst of trouble's guile?
Mocking tone heard from darkened shadows
lost amidst pains and wastes - age bestows.

Where now is my certainty, brought of love
giving confidence as one well thought of?
Only silence drifted - cold, sere and dry
since one unloved - no answer gave reply.
April 25, 2001

When Spring tis made glorious by glint of sun
when Summer first quickened, new growth freshly strung
when Autumn ripened fruits, late-frost had stung
when Winter outwears what bleak weathers flung
then Nature's full story told - in every tongue.

When love first glimmers hopes in those young
when passions heat hearts til marriage won
when flock scatters, til with others clung
when grand-kids regather again as one
then Life's yield full told - stories grandfolks spun.
May 2, 2001

When Life finally wastes one gaunt and grim
erased fading Hopes, til Futures wont and dim
should a final burden thence be emplaced
soul's strength dies, at last giving up - disgraced.

Buried beneath depths too deeply delved, til unfound furthermore
cede cold Fate its final win, letting go - as to underscore
yet trusting those lost Hopes, as one's final obeisance to God
if such be done instead of vengeful Hate - do not think it odd.
May 15, 2001

The eyes that smiled, those lips well-told, handshake touched the soul
have you yet met of one whose greeting - ennobled the whole?
The eyes that stared, those lips that lied, handshake weakly thrust
have you yet met of some, whose greeting - belied their trust?

The eyes that glared, those lips that snarled, hand hard-shaken in your face
have you yet met of few whose greeting found, to put you in your place?
Those eyes that cried, two lips that quivered, handshake would not let go
have you yet met of those bereft, tell what of Death - you should know?

Those eyes that glistened, their lips flushed full, handshake which told as much
have you yet met of none, whose greeting wilted you - with their touch?
June 1, 2000

Beyond dearth and waste of life lived mundane
love but lust friendships used, til found profane
loyalty lost to laughter, hopes could not sustain
people used, til morals become barely humane.

Beyond such lie deep depths of soul, others find
readings long pondered on, learned within the mind
time taken to share - cared as to be one kind
despite those vagaries - Hate and Greed once signed.
June 6, 2001