PRAYER OF OUR REMEMBRANCE

O Lord let all who gather here

Give thanks for freedoms we hold dear

Remembering the bravest ones

Though facing fear their courage won

A prayer of our remembrance now

O God sustain them by your power

Now what is left when war is done?

Do joy or tears remain unsung

Would mother’s sacrifice and grief

be blessings carelessly received

A prayer of our remembrance now

O God sustain them by your power

So in the fervent cause of unity

And the heart of our dear country beating strong

We rise and stand together here today

to proudly lift our voice in grateful song

The lamp of light, eternal flame

Illuminates

their honored ways

Steel guardians all who gave their best

Lord guide these heroes home to rest

A prayer of our remembrance now

O God sustain them by your power

Thou fount of mercy

Gracious One

Teach us to wield Your boundless love

Restore our nation in this hour

May ways of peace

our hearts devour

A prayer of our remembrance now

O God sustain us by your power

O God sustain us by your power

Amen

PRAYER OF OUR REMEMBRANCE

I love Veterans Day, Memorial Day and the Fourth of July. Those days have meaning to me because my father and his brothers fought in World War 2, and I’ve lost close friends and classmates to war, particularly the conflict in Vietnam.

War and its residual are tragic..ugly….and it rages on even now as I write. Young men and women, fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers and children. There are casualties, including the dead, wounded and their families. This while we go on about our business, mostly numb to the reality.

The following lyric is set to the hymn tune of “Eternal Father Strong To Save”. It’s my attempt to articulate the feelings I feel on these national celebrations of recollection and gratitude.

PRAYER OF OUR REMEMBRANCE

O Lord let all who gather here

Give thanks for freedoms we hold dear

mRemembering the bravest ones

Though fighting fears their courage won

A prayer of our remembrance now

O God sustain them by your power

Now what is left when war is done?

Do joy or tears remain unsung

Would mother’s sacrifice and grief

Be blessings carelessly received

A prayer of our remembrance now

O God sustain us by your power

The lamp of light, eternal flame

Illuminates

Their honored ways

Steel guardians all who gave their best

Lord guide these heroes home to rest

A prayer of our remembrance now

O God sustain them by your power

O fount of mercy

Heavenly One

Teach us to wield Your boundless love

Restore our nation in this hour

May ways of peace

Our hearts devour

A prayer of our remembrance now

O God sustain us by your power

O God sustain us by your power

Amen

THE BEST WAY

She’s my only daughter. Sarah Nelson Mingle. I need no other. She is enough. She is complete. Sarah is as strong a person as she is kind, and has never given Pam and me one day of grief, and always the one you can count on. (Oh, and one more thing..two really. She talks with her hands and is truly, the fun kind of funny.)

There are no words in the English language or any other mode of communication that adequately describe the love and respect I have for Sarah, or the gratefulness to God I have for giving me this priceless gift. I have only to hold her hand at every opportunity, be a good listener, give her my warmest hugs and whisper my best attempts to tell her how much she means to me. Oh, and yes, I can do one more very important thing .

I can endeavor to be a man after God’s own heart, continue to listen to His voice and understand that as I live my life, I am not making choices that affect only myself, but decisions that will shape Sarah, her children, and their children. And finally, as I love others well, she will realize all the more how much she is loved….It’s the best way for her to feel the truth of these words, “I love you, Sarah Mae. ❤️

THE TRAGEDY OF INNOCENCE

There was no beauty
living there
just idling trains
and Nazi terror
death’s immigrant
cadaverous frames
who found their rest
in massive graves

A cutting wind
bleak bitter cold
no warmth to find
no hope to hold
just fantasies
of transit dreams
in huddled sleep
their lone relief

Near frozen hands
some gangrene feet
they begged their God
for food to eat
the putrid smoke
and stench of death
a blend of hate
and pestilence

And now we say
oh that was then
yet teeming ghosts
move on again
in semi trucks
with children bands
that traffickers
sell off like trash

a mothers son
who is her world
a father’s heart
his little girl
it’s raging on
but hard to see
this vile abuse
in secrecy

So are their lives
less valuable
when we ignore
these vulnerable
whose souls have lost
one sacredness
this gift from God
their innocence

A poem by Greg Nelson
© 2020 by Poppie’s Hallel (BMI. Admin. by Amplified Administration)

TO PAM

fond muse of this my lovely bride
as Cupid’s earnest arrows fly
there’s beauty on her face that shines
wave hair soft frame those dulcet eyes

at night feel breathing on my neck
her silken cheek so gently pressed
all snuggled up beside me lay
we fall asleep and dreams are made

oh sure we squabble and we spar
quick to prove how right we are
but when our rattling swords are done
we’re still two crazy birds in love

we have to hold through best and worse
though poor or rich all in due course
and too in health or deathly sick
our promised bond through thick and thin

this is the scene it is our life
I treasure you my valentine
resplendent as the day we met
my up and down with no regret

PORCUPINES

so do we know each other well
I’m not so sure
I cannot tell
we have our lives
and things of note
for some we write on
facebook posts

but who we are
and what we seem
is what we want the world to see
for sure a spin
an airbrushed life
that we all guard
like porcupines

now ego mediates within
the super ego
and the id
that feeds an endless need in us
for want of more significance

the cryptic mind a paradox
a cache of
cruelty and love
So baffling and bizarre as well
this mortal port
of heav’n and hell

and there sequestered
in our souls
lay remnants of a moral code
a feelings fog of good and bad
that we ourselves don’t fully grasp

yet we’re the kings in our own court
we pardon all our crimes of course
though clemency can’t silence shame
that only God can full erase

well feelings over time reshape
and culture shifts from age to age
so now for me this Truth remains
there’s only One who does not change

A poem by Greg Nelson
© 2020 by Poppie’s Hallel (BMI. Admin. by Amplified Administration)

OF PEACEFUL CONVERSATION

This is really weird, but the other night Pam and I had almost the exact same dream but with a different cast of characters . The essence of the dream was being in the middle of a group of our friends, feeling like outsiders, trying to belong…but ultimately, feeling alone.

It brought me back to thoughts of Bismarck, North Dakota and a famous cultural shrine, a drive in called the Big Boy on the east side of town. Since 1954, it made its mark on Main Street as a great place to eat and a fun meeting place.

Their pizza burger flying style
was the epicurean centerpiece of teenage fine cuisine, and the drink of choice was a Hot n’ Tot made with cinnamon and coke. Also on the menu were specialty shakes and malts like the Calypso, Brown Cow and the familiar standbys as well.

There was a car line that usually stretched along Main Street, crossing a a railroad track that took you thru a drive thru lane to a little speaker box where you placed your order. Another favorite menu item for me was a foot-long hotdog with pickles, onions, mustard and ketsup. A lot of kids liked ordering gravy so they could dip their fries in it. After you pulled up to the pick-up window to pay and get your food, you drove on to the big parking lot in back.

With evening came a moonlit stage
and a blended scent of English Leather, Aqua Net, the exhaust from cars, the deep fryer and grill fans of the kitchen and the smoke from a Winston or an occasional Swisher Sweet.

There usually were couples on a date, a carload full of screaming girls, or guys suffering the effects of full blown testosterone awkwardly saying the wrong things to impress, while others sat on the hood of their cars spooning their cherry marshmallow snows, talking and laughing til the lights in the parking lot were turned off.

We had a sense of safety there with few cares and a fledgling freedom to drive a car and stay out late. In the parking lot we knew most everyone. In some obscure way, we were becoming then the people we’ve become…with some grand moments in life along with chapters we wish had never been written. Nevertheless, life continues on.

I have to admit I was so immature that I always felt like a participant who didn’t belong in the circus I was in the middle of. So with that dream, Pam and I realized this feeling has been resident in us both, most of our lives. But I guess, everyone has a little catch in their psyche in some respect. It’s just one of those human things.

Was it the place or people that our smiles and memories share…. or beauty of the sentiment that came from just being there. Is that the Pavlovian potion that keeps us returning to the scene of the times?

We were comrades facing the future, our fears and the unknown, but it was okay, because we were in it together. We had peaceful conversations for the most part. I miss that in the conversation today. Of course I can’t live in the past, but there sure are times I wish I could.

I’m feeling like an Alpine burger just now.

ALONG MISSOURI BANKS

When I was younger, I took a trip on the river from Washburn, North Dakota to the shores of Bismarck near the Memorial Bridge. This is a reflection of that experience.

ALONG MISSOURI BANKS

An eerie calm as I canoed
the wide Missouri drifts
A breeze fed
the odiferous blend
of rotting moss and fish

But suddenly my spirit soared
all nature spoke out loud
I sensed the ones who walked this land
their legends and the sounds

Arikara and Mandan here
the proud Hidatsa too
Hunkpapa tribe and Sitting Bull
of the Lakota Sioux

I heard the Pow Wow celebrate
with drums their beating heart
and felt the dance of culture thru
the windblown trees and clouds

Then I recalled my mom was raised
at Indian training school
assimilating native kids
replete with white man’s rules

I never thought to ask her once
what living there was like
or if she’d known the methods used
to purge their way of life

I thought of Conrad Hairychin
my friend in junior high
presented tough when he was pushed
and not afraid to fight

Yet walking home from
school with him
along Old Highway 10
I saw a different side that seemed
more vulnerable and sad

This native born American
told how his life was spent
In daily living bigotry
I couldn’t comprehend

O that was then and later on
I moved to Tennessee
Whose Andrew Jackson president
had fought at New Orleans

But endless twenty dollar bills
on which his face appears
won’t be enough to pay for lives
lost on his Trail of Tears

I see that all throughout my life
I’ve eased on so secure
but how I need to understand
the pain that some endured

That’s why that river ride I took
was rich and I give thanks
for seeing more of what God sees
along Missouri banks

A poem by Greg Nelson
© 2020 by Poppie’s Hallel (BMI. Admin. by Amplified Administration)

SAPLING YEARS

O there are times I will escape
for just a little while
and I can muse on days that were
of war and flower child

And just by chance the other night
They had a 60s dance
remnants of some local bands
together once again

This seasoned crew thru rusted strain
recalled their glory days
and still their shake and rattle rock
Had never rolled away

They brought me back to draggin’ main
with radio blaring strong
My reckless voice sang every word
of Byrds and Beatles songs

With each verse I came of age
the titles spoke the year
in painful tunes
of love I lost
and dreams
that never were

So here’s to music memories
of puppy love
and fears
and tunes I played on
forty fives
back in the sapling years

A poem by Greg Nelson
© 2020 by Poppie’s Hallel (BMI. Admin. by Amplified Administration)

THE WOUND HEALER

The story of CS Lewis and poet, Joy Davidman, “Shadowlands” has been told in film and on stage. The film version summary is far different than the stage play. The film reckons the pain we feel in old age is payment for the good times we had in our youth. The stage play maintains that the pain we feel in life is God chipping away at us.
Well God is chipping away at me.

Excuses ruin authentic apology, and I only get one chance at that, because with all subsequent regrets, the voracity of my remorse is suspect. In short, people have a difficult time trusting my vacillating word.

I’m highly excitable, and when on a subject for which I have great feeling, my passion is a bane, self control becomes abated and there is emotional debris. The fruit of the Spirit is sullied, tremendous shame follows and it’s at that point I understand my spiritual condition. What is lost? Well, I lose once vibrant relationships, I lose self respect, and lose a measure of communication with my Creator.

But pain is a wound healer that obliterates the frivolous and does the deep spiritual cleaning that is so needed.

Now for the Good News.

God lifts me to safety, comforts me in all of my struggles, compassionately gives me overflowing hope and won’t ever leave me. This is the Christmas story, a message of redemption, forgiveness and promise from God’s heart to ours, through the Holy Spirit and accomplished by a baby in a manger who is Christ the Lord, Emmanuel…God with us.

Merry Christmas!

THE LIVING POOR

How desperate those who run aground

of hope and basic needs

When all our cares and want are met

it’s hard for us to see

Our duty eased in partial truth

that God will care for them

and then with comfort’s callousness

dismiss their humanness

When we avail the vulnerable

We lend unto the Lord

for He is close to broken hearts

the crushed and ones forlorn

The question then when penury

attends these struggling souls

Would thought of kind solicitude

complacency withhold

The poor will always be with us

as care of widowed wives

and orphaned ones in faith described

as pure and undefiled

Do unto others as yourself

the golden rule implores

This ageless truth remains with us

as do the living poor

A poem by Greg Nelson

© 2020 by Poppie’s Hallel (BMI. Admin. by Amplified Administration)

THE PLEASURES THAT WE HEAR

O music the transcendent gift
our minds it’s soulful wings
that soar throughout the intertwine
of pain and lovely things

We cannot comprehend but feel
the treasure that it is
This human passion that conveys
in ways words can’t express

For notes on page are soon transformed
into the beauty played
on canvases of quietness
with lines musicians paint

The anguished chords of love and grief
impassioned melodies
Find in rest the irony
that silence louder speaks

And too the voice of romance lost
and feelings that we feel
A calendar of memories
with joys that are still real

For music knows no cruelty
to blame or to forgive
But the pleasures that we hear
yes only God could give

THINGS MADE NEW

The last of fall now whisks away
with autumn’s final breath
Fluttering like butterflies
leaves take their final rest

These desiccated lie in state
on combed quiescent grass
then burned in piles like funeral pyres
and left to smoldering ash

But nature has sweet aspirant dreams
like buds of fall on branch
in wait before the maiden snow
with hope to flower again

Yet they will face dark freezing nights
that dead of winter brings
But one day these will burst to life
as blossoms in the Spring

What meaning does this hold for me
There’s questions left to ask
How were we made and when we die
Is there a second chance

Ageless words say dust to dust
We each have our own view
But in my heart I hold this truth
God makes the flower bloom

A poem by Greg Nelson
© 2020 by Poppie’s Hallel (BMI. Admin. by Amplified Administration)