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


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



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.


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


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



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. ❤️


i don’t know exactly what it was that moved me

standing there

looking at the fresh mulch around the newly planted yews

then turning

and looking at a tree swaying ever gently in the wind

it was a moment

so simple

yet oh so beautiful

what’s the metaphor here

i’m not sure

is it the mulch

the leftovers that nurture new life

like beauty from ashes

maybe that

i’m sure a gifted poet could wax eloquently

probably there’s no metaphor here at all

but i need more moments

and lavishly spend time in those moments

to feel them

see them

hear them

savor them


to not let them pass by me into the invisibility of taking them for granted

or the abyss of blindness

to what is

mid the distractions of life

jealous for the meaning

but we all want this don’t we

the universal prescription

to be seen

to matter

to be loved


A poem by Greg Nelson

© 2021 by Poppie’s Hallel

(BMI. Admin. by Amplified Administration)


Today on my autumn walk, I was listening to “The Ballet” written by David Foster and the brilliant composer/orchestrator, Jeremy Lubbock. This beautiful composition moves me deeply. I worked with Jeremy on a number of projects, and it was just last year that he passed on.

I began thinking about him and other friends and family that I’ve lost. And in these musical moments of reminisce, my mind drifted off to these precious ones, and our seasons together. They spun my thoughts to the beauty of life, and the incredible gift of being able to take my next breath, the loveliness of things like ballet and birds in flight, winter fires, tears of joy, the sound of happy children’s voices, hugging someone and stuff like that. As I listened to the music, it gave me a sense of hope for what can be.

I find myself contending in this world of the here and now, aswim in the great philosophical divide and turmoil of international conflict, economic sufferings of the poor, weather disasters and fires, nuclear threat and what will be a very cold Ukrainian winter. In this season of elections, I’m reminded of this one thing.

When I had my cancer surgery, I never thought about Republicans Democrats are independents caring for me on the operating table or preparing me for surgery…But they were. When I was holding Pam‘s hand in the recovery room after finding out that the operation was successful, I was so thankful for each one who had helped bring me back to wellness.

So I pray for a heart that desires to listen more than impune, that sees past political disagreement, and holds to a humility of spirit and action as I encounter and coexist in this country as well the planet. I want it to be my perspective…because when I lose touch of that…I begin to die a little, and everything around me seems to die as well.

As I try to keep my balance with Grand jeté and pirouette, in this the ballet of life… let me be graceful in the dance…and let me be grateful again today…let me be grateful again tomorrow…and again the next day…and again the day after that…and the next.


I was thinking today about people whose lives have not turned out in the way they expected, and they struggle now. Thinking about them is nice, but being present with them, giving them aid or praying for them… even better.


O weary heart
turn this aching to verse
For my life has been sudden
And so unrehearsed

We were children of springtime
but those bright days rushed by
into summers of family
and the labor of time

Watermelon sweetness
tomatoes and squash
saw the queer charm of seasons
bring a change of the guard

Now with unshirted arms
of autumn’s bare branch
life jigs in the fog
of a days gone by dance

Winter is coming
don’t know what will be
but on cold lonely nights
O God comfort me
yes on cold lonely nights
O God comfort me

A poem by Greg Nelson
© 2022 by Poppie’s Hallel
(BMI. Admin. by Amplified Administration)

(Photo by Marc Bruxelle)


This sweet bairn named Lillibet
Was pure and carefree
She lived in a world
Made of castles and kings
A Corgi named Dookie
Was her favorite pet
And she also loved riding
On a pony named Peg

But her father King George
passed away suddenly
And the people were singing
God Save The Queen
And at her coronation
Took serious God’s vows
Felt the weight of her crown
Yet never wavered at all

Well that’s when i met her
And then ever since
I’ve had long distance history
With the queen and her prince
Elizabeth reigned
Over commonwealth realms
Not a fairy book tale
That pretenders would tell

Throughout her long life
her duty remained
A watch tower of England
The Defender of Faith
Near seventy years
Every world leader known
Shook her regal right hand
Some were tyrants some popes

Each night of her life
She kneeled by her bed
And prayed for her charge
Facing challenging ends
As well her own family
Disasters and war
And held to her faith
As ever before

She weaved through the changes
In culture and trends
Constantly working
Strong to the end
Her wave with a smile
and always the purse
Served her whole life
On a dutiful course

She left old Balmoral
And Buckingham then
Onto Westminster Hall
Finally Windsor to rest
At home with the angels
with saints by her side
There a crown of rejoicing
And the great crown of life

In the morrow the mourners
Will arrive to attend
a stirring memorial
of a life so well lived
But that celebration
could never compare
to the glory in heaven
When God welcomed her there

A poem by Greg Nelson
© 2022 by Poppie’s Hallel
(BMI. Admin. by Amplified Administration)


i’m of Handwoven birth
dust and dreams
poems and prayers
of people

i feel the earthborn current
as it powers down
in natural course

and life sometimes
as on funeral wake
the silence
and remembering absence

then too in tears and stories
letting go

the internal pandemonium
of shrewd collusion
conspiratorial pride
feigning humility
with the sully of self aggrandizement

and permanence
that stubborn child
still fighting
to overpower change

let life come
where joy is found

let life come
in the longer wait

let life come
in the deeper reach

let life come to you

A poem by Greg Nelson
© 2022 Poppie’s Hallel BMI
Admin. by Amplified Administration


It was to be a most extraordinary day
experiencing the Van Gogh Exhibition

Pam and I walked through the exhibition doors
and were instantaneously flung into a burst of colorful perfusion
and the voice of Edith Piaf singing
Non Je Ne Regrette Rien
(I Do Not Regret Anything)

i really don’t know what i was expecting
coming to this event
but all of a sudden
i was in it

the initial impact
so overwhelming
that I broke into tears

the musical realizations of
Luca Longobardi
was a washing rush of beauty
and a masterful partenaire
to this visual spectacle

the imagination of the creator
Massimiliano Siccardi and his team
produced a transcendent expression
sailing far beyond the paintings

i found myself walking through
the tangled mind of vincent van gogh
in an emotionally intense
kaleidoscope of sight and sound

up until the age of twenty seven
he was an art and book dealer
language teacher
lay preacher and missionary worker

though throughout all his life
he was constantly floundering
save the support of his brother Theo

Van Gogh was a confluence of
once religious fervor
romantic casualty
critics rejection
psychotic delusion
teeming unhappiness
and finally
suicide by gunshot

these the staples of his existence
tucked into a short thirty seven years

prolific in the last ten years as a painter
he began with drawings and watercolors
then later oils

during his time in the sanitarium
Van Gogh was painting on the average
one piece every two days
and sometimes one a day

Starry Night was completed in his days there
a painting that is worth 100 million dollars today

Van Gogh sold only one painting in his lifetime
The Red Vineyard

this exhibit of Van Gogh’s work
was constantly
swirling around you
a gallery of bi-polar sensibility
on the walls
and the floor

blackbirds flapping their wings
blades of a windmill moving

sunflowers and potato eaters
self portraits
and that starry night

there were foreboding scenes
which spoke of the darkness
that consumed him

then the relief of
still life
café terraces

and flowered scenes
in a palette of
vivid yellows
and orange
blue and green
with some red

the attendees were athrill
at the wonder they were witnessing
sounds of excited young children

one of these little ones
just into the up and running phase of her life
came bustling by us
with mother in close pursuit

suddenly she lay down on the floor
of bright blinking lighting
eyes wide open
arms swishing
as like angel wings in snow
little fingers
touching the magical floor
Looking up in wonder

It was a storybook moment
the juxtaposition of this massively tragic brilliance
shining down on the beauty of innocence

that was the Van Gogh Exhibition

A poem by Greg Nelson
© 2022 by Poppie’s Hallel
(BMI. Admin. by Amplified Administration)


I heard your mind gets a little altered
when you have covid
but not the Timothy Leary altered kind
more like losing the sense of taste and/or smell
been told it sets your brain
to wobble

well i hadn’t been feeling well
maybe grumpier than when i get grumpy

we’ve tried to be pretty careful since we’re a couple of old dogs

Pam helped me with the in home covid test
i had to twirl this long q-tip
up in my nose
five times for each nostril
it tickled and made me sneeze
and when i was done
we had to wait fifteen minutes
and then the report

i was positive
or as they say in the holler
he’s got the covia

then steadily
a lot of coughing
and with each cough
even more rawness in my throat
nose running
while at the same time
i’m all plugged up

i have a big fat headache
and i’m really tired
but tired like i’ve never been tired before

i don’t want to think about
what it would be like being in the hospital with this
especially on a ventilator
at near 74 years old
you don’t want that on your radar

i was banished to live in my studio/writing room
for the next 7 days

but as i was well into day two of the naughty strain quarantine
Pam called me from downstairs
and asked me if i want to watch a movie with her

“i can’t watch a movie with you”

“well you can now”


“cuz i’m positive too”

“you mean for covid”


well all that to say
we probably have the common garden variety strain

but i wouldn’t wish the more severe cases of this on anyone

reminds me to pray for those who face worse
ones hospitalized
or are at death’s door

it’s not fun
but for what we’re experiencing

no matter
i’m grateful


my friend Becky just posted
that the loons are back
they’re back on the lake

they are absolutely beautiful
and the sound of each yodel
announcing their arrival
is unique and haunting

but i wonder
where do loons go
and where have they been
maybe the Gulf of Mexico
or the Florida coast
i’m not sure

wherever it is
there’s an inner pull
i suspect food and weather
have a lot to do with it
to make that move south

but then
they eventually return and unbelievably
to the very same watering place
that too is inherent

well in some ways I’m kinda like the loon
trying to fly to that alleged
better place there on the shores of mortal want

but migrating birds
and a wandering prodigal
are not the same deal

one is natural
but the other
people like me
who are drowning in the gestalt
of personal and societal vagaries
ever looking for more

but for more what
more having
more getting
more control more justice
more happiness
more pleasure
maybe more credibility

no matter
just more

i don’t know if this is true
but it seems
we get discontented
demand change
and then politicians battle
with their weapons of words
and prudent remedies
for whatever their ends

but somehow we manage to return
to where we were before
and with each new generation
comes another corrosive twist

i have to think
maybe naively
that permanent change in the world
comes from somewhere else

and my best guess
is that it comes through qualities like

peacemakers the merciful those who forgive others before themselves those who don’t stop doing the next right thing
the generous the kind the humble
the gentle ones and those who exercise self control

but most of all to love God and our neighbors without strictures

so how do we keep missing that
these bring about so much joy
and healing in the world
people respond to them
desire them
hold fast to them
are moved by them
and changed as a result of them

and like the loon returning
these for us
that of sovereign root
the proverbial homing signals
to guide us
protect us
ever keeping us

and that’s a beautiful thing

a poem by greg nelson
© 2022 by poppie’s hallel
(bmi. admin. by amplified administration)


i think of Passover
how as a result of the plagues
you know
with frogs, locust blood on doorposts and such
God arrested the arrogance of the proud
and abased the haughtiness of the ruthless

the suffering of the Israelites was unfathomable
but then
El Shaddai rescued them

all that stuff is in Exodus
very interesting reading

i think of this as well
the hope of Easter
of the Ukrainian people
and the holocaust being waged on them

how in this life
there are no boundaries to the diabolical intent of which humans are capable
and I fear we are given over to ourselves

despite the finest socio economic solutions from brilliant political scientific and humanitarian think tanks
we remain an ever more alarming world of hostility aggression and despondency dismissing the need of any spiritual remedy whatsoever

what’s that quote
all we like sheep
or something like that

and Bruce Schneier has this right
if we think technology is going to solve our problems
we don’t understand technology
and we don’t understand our problems

so why all the hoopla this celebration of Easter
bottom line

Christians believe
that Christ
came to us
in love and justice
to address
forgive and deliver us from
whatever you want to call it

want of power
a murderous heart
bigotry and racism
wanting other people’s stuff
unbridled ego
lust of significance
or for that matter
lusting after anything other than God

religious leaders and congregants fall victim to these vices
but it doesn’t make the baby in the bath water any less relevant
it does however make a serious allegation about the propensity of our heart

and really
how did we get from the significance of a bodily resurrection
to chocolate bunnies
Easter egg hunts
gloves hats and dresses
candy baskets et al

oh just give us enough time
and we can manage to mess up most anything

now as I closer await for my E-ticket and jet pack for home
(so say the actuarial tables and my family history)
i tend to pay attention to the meaning of my life a whole lot more
i’m not that smart
and being old doesn’t help
but i do know this for myself

my belief in Christ
His work
His cross
His resurrection
is not some pipe dream

my life is replete with things that have happened to me that I cannot explain
being physically blind for many months
scarring over both eyes
then unbelievably
made well
unexplainable by my doctor

that is real
but only one example of many

these are spiritual events
and not of mortal prowess
I have seen the faithfulness of God
and understand my own fallibility

Christ is not a crutch
He is the living God

so what will I do with this Easter faith
to make this a better world
for those who suffer
for those without

will I listen
be slow to speak
and love well

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it”


Just thinking about Ukrainian kids with family contacts written on their bodies, a war possibly inching west with me riding in my car listening to a news report worrying about the price of gas. Are we missing something here?


if war was on my doorstep now
as bombs dropped from the sky
how brave then would I really be
with bullets flying by

how as a nation would we fair
with conflict here so strong
would it be as the Ukraine
together pressing on

their children know the truth of war
cast down a Ukraine trench
for they have seen the horrid piles
of overcrowded death

and mothers too who realize
their ill fate may be cast. insure these wards find family
inscribe their tender backs

but some of these will be no more
to wake a brighter day
one blast wipes generations out
that warlocks have erased

we worry more bout traffic here
then trafficking to grieve
and tend toward what’s in front of us
then legacy we’ll leave

I pray a prayer for peaceful ends
and hold this hope in mind
that through our day
a deeper look
how precious is this life

A poem by Greg Nelson
© 2022 by Poppie’s Hallel
(BMI. Admin. by Amplified Administration)