TIME UNDONE

It’s the moment I’ve always imagined was a little ways off

But with a long life
and falling through more and more branches of the wellness tree
I can see that it’s not as far off as I once imagined

We’ve all lost family
close friends
and people we’ve admired throughout the panorama of our lives

Yet when I hear the news
it always seems too soon
and I’m surprised
but then again
not really
they were my age
maybe younger

But somehow we cope
If ever so differently
and we get through it
the mourning
the farewell
and the what happens after part

With each mortal absence
I find myself contemplating life
then unpacking the question
What’s it all about

And with that come these meaningful nuggets

That time is undone as quick as a wink
and vanity’s fire
that too

That it is far better to posses the grace of the poor
than face the imprisonment of great riches

That the harvest of life on this earth will stem only from the seeds of love I have planted

Everyone of us has their turn
to saddle up with the rider of that pale horse
So with great deference to my friends and respect for there views
this is my personal submission

whatever is left for me of this life
I shall desire to keep losing myself in the faithful arms of an unfathomable God
and if that sovereign belief be foolish to some
would that I suffer the mercy of fools

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

SIMPLICITY

Cluttered lives and lengthy prayers
busy noisy streets
Then mid the scream to realize
I want simplicity
a loving smile with tender touch
a tear from what I’ve read
the beauty of a new day dawn
or watch a sun that sets

To seek essential facts of life
that teach us simple truths
we need escape the raucous roar
in woods of solitude
with this Thoreau came reckoning
and anchored hope in him
that he not find before he died
he had not truly lived

Our mortal spooling can’t recoil
the silence that we miss
if failed to poke a wooded fire
we lose what life can give
the footprints of a baby’s feet
and lockets of their hair
the best of memories that we keep
or cares of heart we share

Better than the grandeur be
and better too than gold
these simple pleasures ever here
stand ready to unfold
the unseen work of rich or poor
as servants who invest
find mercy renders so much more
for both are doubly blessed

A sovereign God who tends to us
and gifts the air we breathe
lends water if we care for it
enough is all we need
a nesting bird a morning walk
the sky and stars at night
so much to take for granted here
these simple things of life

A poem by Greg Nelson
© 2021 by Poppie’s Hallel BMI (Admin. by Amplified Administration)

THE THINGS WE SAY

I heard this quote the other day. “The world goes through so much left unspoken.” I thought about it and imagined things not spoken that should have been…like beautiful, healing words of love, graciousness, encouragement, forgiveness and even regret. It all had such a poetic sense to it, but what did it mean?

Well I asked myself that question, and came to this hard truth about why I go into stealth mode instead of speaking. I found it mostly centered around anger, confusion, stubbornness, fear, inconvenience, personal hurt or sometimes, just being unkind. 

But that said, there are other reasons for leaving things unvoiced. I begin by saying, the truth be known, I revere my opinion way too much. I’m quick to share it, and often times without a lot of foresight or facts. I have a reactionary gene in me, and prone to spout off, sometimes as awkwardly as Adolf Hitler leading a sensitivity training seminar. It’s in those moments I need someone to put me out to pasture so I can regroup and get ahold of myself.

Part of the problem is my deep seeded need to be right when making a point. And for some nonsensical reason, I think that redundancy and volume make my point more true. One of my beautiful writing partners, Phill McHugh, said this once about a person who was waxing eloquent, full of themselves and their viewpoint. “That guy is sure treating greatness with undue familiarity! We both had a laugh. Yet so so many times throughout the years, I’ve realized, that I’m the one of whom he spoke.

I’m discovering that instead of thinking about what I’m going to say next in a conversation, it’s much better to cease my ongoing babblement and quiet my trumpeting so I can actually listen to what others are saying, and not feel requisite to fill the silence.

I WILL NEVER FORGET

I was thinking in these birthing days of 2022, to hold fast to gratefulness for my friends. Friendships are expensive and they take effort. I’ve found that I can’t be equally diligent to everyone of them, because of time and proximity.

I have been through blindness, cancer, some accomplishment and some failures. But God has put friends and family around me through all of it. I wrote this today in gratitude…and also to remind myself, as each one of you floods through my mind and my heart.

I SHALL NEVER FORGET

there’ve been seasons for me
when my world doubled down
and the trouble I faced
left my life bleeding out

but in my distress
some friends came along
who listened a lot
and cared to reach out

not on a white horse
as I had once hoped
but on wings of a prayer
at the end of my rope

some were new friends
or from years long ago
now here at a time
when I felt most alone

comforting me
they kept standing somehow
there in the breach
loving me through it all

in my struggles and fears
or through sorrows and want
they were shoulders of strength
that I could lean on

far more than rare books
or art that enthralls
these merciful ones
are most treasured of all

for their generous care
and the love it begets
these special dear friends
I will never forget

A poem by Greg Nelson
© 2021 by Poppie’s Hallel
(BMI. Admin. by Amplified laAdministration)

WHAT CAN’T BE TOUCHED

How inexplicable this phenomenon

music

the subject of philosophers psychologists sociologists educators
and the medical community as well
it’s continuously analyzed by musical theorists of every persuasion around the world.

for musicians it has both sides of the brain at work with a fusion of the imagination and mathematical relationships

it’s capable of power
passion or restraint
and unmeasurable nuance

far beyond the science of sound
it’s transcendent
ubiquitous
with silence it’s playmate

realized by classical composers
populace songwriters
musicians
even those creating for simple pleasure
whether by way of human touch
technology or in nature
it is impossible to comprehend the full measure of its dimension and consequence

it cannot be encased
or contained
and won’t be dismissed
if not the ears
the mind
the heart
or the soul will hear it

In hospital beds
prisons and churches
homes and schools
fields
concerts and the ballet
operas
in battle
bars and restaurants
cars and trucks
trains and planes
sports events
grand dinners
or a soft lit room
movies
the work place
stores and shops
malls and mines
on a run or walk
elevators
television
studios and festivals
listening rooms
bar mitzvahs
weddings and funerals

the young listen via streaming
for the seasoned silver lined it’s a time stamp

profoundly spiritual
through a plaintiff voice
from a bluegrass holler
or a grand cathedral
it lives in orchestras
instruments
choirs
in nature
a hollow log
a reed
organic or synthetic

it’s the sound expression of the culture in neighborhoods
cities and nations
their musical voice
their expression of life

it imbues the sovereign
as well as the sensual

there’s beauty
sadness
angst
whimsy
power
rage
gaiety
sophistication
awe
tenderness
nostalgia

and in those moments come freedom
catharsis
healing and inspiration
memories and tears
peace or pain
bliss and hope
empowerment

it is every emotion of life
touching us

yet we can never touch
what can’t be touched

this music

RITE OF PASSAGE

Some things that can be done…should not be attempted. Yes, and maybe we should allow some things we’re doing to actually… go gently into that good night. (My apologies, Dylan Thomas)

I remember coming to a major decision in my life when I was 50. I was enjoying a wonderful career doing the very thing I loved…creating and living by my wits, yet I found myself just maintaining artists with a repetitive sameness to it all, writing and producing to please an industry and dreaming the dreams of unbelievably gifted artists. Let me be very clear…I owe so much to those precious friends. What I’m trying to say, is those dreams were not my dreams, and as years rolled by, I was getting more and more uncomfortably comfortable. I wanted to jump off my own creative cliff, and find entities who would take the leap with me. This meant letting go of what I could control, the safe passage and the bankable.

Oftentimes in our everyday lives, we get lost in the doing of what we’re doing. Some of us are immeshed in the creative synergism, camaraderie, or the economics that drive it. For others, just surviving is motivation. At this point, we find it hard to see the forest for the trees and the bigger picture. So maybe, just maybe, we’re merely existing, opting for the familiar, a bit fearful of change, but actually impeding our potential for greater opportunities.

Well can these things we’re doing continue? Sure they can. Should they continue? That’s the better query.

There are many illustrations. For example, some personal relationships we have are in need of release. As much as we care for these people, they bring a toxicity to our lives. We feel it, try to ignore it, but it festers, and it’s destructive. Or too, when dealing with terminal patients, a family must come to a point of acceptance in order for them to let go..so in their hearts,, they can release their loved one to move on…to better things. There are businesses that keep holding on to operating modes that are inefficient, myopic and failing. They end up closing their doors, but really, they were dead long before. The blame is placed on many different things, but whatever it was, it also exposed what was inherently weak in both business processes and their product.

Dying to something is painful. It’s a wound that slowly heals, either completely or to a measure. But we have to let go of many things throughout our lives. In certain instances, holding on too long is just plain unhealthy.

“It’s a hard life
It’s a hard life
It’s a very hard life
It’s a hard life wherever you go”

So sang lovely songwriter, Nancy Griffith, who passed away this past August. It’s not easy, but it is what it is, and we have to come to grips with it.

Alcoholics Anonymous has a wonderful little saying…or is it a prayer? “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things that I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference”.

We’ve probably heard that many times, but I think it’s always worthy of review. Letting go…It’s the proverbial rite of passage as we find our way home.

THE CARNIVAL

Carnival of the Animals

by Camille Saint-Saëns

is a musical portrait

of animal sounds

elephants and lions

the weak and the strong

creatures with long ears

and a beautiful swan

 

aviary birdsongs

aquariums and fish

swimming in dreams

like the dreams we all wish

and fossils the memories

of days long before

with a  pianist who’s playing

a most apropos score

there are hens and a rooster

with fluttering sounds

and the tortoise at home

as he ambles about

is it closer to humans

then what we may think

and the more that I ponder

comes a smile and a wink

 

I have a crazy old uncle

and our stubborn aunt Mae

it’s the sound of a cuckoo

and a donkey’s loud bray

but I guess we’re the carnival

in some kinda way

each one of us different

on public display

 

oh this glorious planet

is special to me

whether mammals or mountains

deserts or seas

there’s high constellations

whose zodiac signs

pose animals roaming

on cool moonlit nights

Columba and Hydra

a snake and a dove

Taurus the bull

floating high up above

menagerie magic

round stars heaven deep

is beauty so stunning

it’s hard to believe

 

 no price for the priceless

no way to describe

this spectacular wonder

of human delight

and our dear children watch

how we tend in the breach

it’s the world we’ll hand over

and legacy we leave

 

 

A poem by Greg Nelson

© 2021 by Poppie’s Hallel

(BMI. Admin. by Amplified Administration)

 

SUNDAY AGAIN

In this era of entitlement and citizen kings….I’m so thankful for those who give of their time with “boots on the ground” help, aid and resources for the care of orphans, widows, abused women and their children, the dispossessed, the hungry, the addicted, and those precious who deal with difficult matters of mental health. Bless them

The government tries to help, the churches try, organizations try, but it seems an avalanche. People need to get involved…but I sense we much prefer arguing about what needs to be done than actually doing anything about it. We’re told God brings justice for the poor and food for the hungry…True dat…but here’s the rest of that deal. We have a responsibility to impart the blessings we receive to those who go without.

The ushers in some churches will periodically stand with an offering plate at the end of the service meant to help the needy. It’s called a benevolence offering. As I walk out, I put in the cash from my wallet…but that’s generally little more then a pittance. Though it makes me feel good about myself…I’ve really given very little. I wonder what giving actually means …like if it doesn’t cost anything …or seems little more than duty…I’m not sure what you call that.

I’m ripe with guilt thinking I don’t do enough…but I’m quick to administer my own personal absolution..and then I’m off to my next thought.

but the poor are still in need
the homeless still untethered
the orphan still hoping someone cares
the battered still wounded
the addict still hitting bottom
the widow still lonely
the hungry still suffering
so there’s plenty of pain to go around

and then the proclamation so predictable
“well we can’t do anything about that”….”What’s for lunch?”

And then it’s Sunday again

SILENCE

invisible
I can’t see you
you’re not like me
you know
because of what you believe
I’m just going to have to dismiss your sorry darkened soul
all of you

oh the joys of indignant fervor
whether from the left or the right
anger and hate fuel the self righteous train
and the louder we shout
the further people move away
we say it’s in the name of love
but we love what we love
we love who we love
the easy love
our tribe
few others

we see our friends
yet why not everyone
this not to betray our beliefs
or to agree
but to SEE their humanity
the willowy
the short and stout
of every confession and color

each of us await our due date
guilty of our own failings and oversight
running around this little planet, thinking our opinions and blogs
like banal lines in a song
are so consequential
so ex cathedra

some exist to succeed
some just to survive
like receivers on a football team
with one simple thing in mind
see the ball
get the ball

and there too
those with a prescription of faith
and what the Almighty can do
but still
what a mess living in the roar of disparate cultures
and behavioral algorithms

I need simpler things
autumn walks
children’s voices
seeing the world outside myself
reaching out

serenity

silence

that still small voice

Photo by Tom Rutherfoord

A poem by Greg Nelson
© 2021 by Poppie’s Hallel
(BMI. Admin. by Amplified Administration)

AUTUMN WITTERING

off on another morning stroll
there are smoky clouds
and the sky is spitting
the wet sidewalk finds a single stone
oh sweet the elegance of leaves and a perky wispy wind
overhead I see a few migrants headed home

in my ear Letzter Fruling
speaks the radiance of Grieg’s countryside
spring after winter
and sadness it might be the last
but this is Autumn
my head is clear
the air is fresh
and seemingly no daunting hopelessness

but out of nowhere
a sudden downpour of heaviness that’s so overwhelming
entitlement and poverty
humanity and power
avarice and fury
wars and faith
incivility

these thoughts are relentless
and it’s then I feel a dark day of the soul
I try to move on but even the music I’m listening to seems to wound more than it soothes
and in this moment
I wonder what it’s telling me

my entire jaunt is caught up in a torrent of questioning
time has let go of me
my walk is almost done
I’ll soon be home
yet still my troubling heart
what to do with my thoughts
forget about it and take a shower

I lower my sweated head
and ask for this
one more day of residency
a closer walk on a more well lit path
to be present with pain
to pray even more
give even more
serve all the more
and do better

A poem by Greg Nelson
© 2021 by Poppie’s Hallel
(BMI. Admin. by Amplified Administration)