SO MUCH MORE

Beneath fields festooned in red poppies and flags, our valiant guardians now lie here in state. Uniform headstones stand fit for review, in beauty the honor of nature’s salute. With reverent calm bugle nocturne now plays, sad twenty four notes this Memorial Day. I live in the irony that gratefulness warms, for the grace I’ve been given, midst the sorrow of war

Dear Lord,

Help me understand what this means… I didn’t know them and they didn’t know me…but we’re tethered somehow…and their sacrifice is so much more than just another vacation day.

Amen

NO LITTLE THING

faire Cynthian moon
perched on the night
backlit in beams beyond
lone nightjar flies across the sky
soft canvas stretched above

the simple beauty of the earth
is everywhere to see
and when I look
it’s then i find
God does no little thing

a nod begets encouragement
a word becomes a poem
and soon one seed will feed the world
as drops to rain unfold

God wakens me another day
to morning’s mourning dove
and for each small step that I take
He gives me just enough

but there are days of wondering
and for a little while
i feel more like a speck of dust
but quickly reconcile

for when i understand the power
in worship of the King
there is no doubt in me at all
God does no little thing

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

CREATOR OF CREATION

(Verse)
As we behold fair rainbow span
our thoughts Lord turn to You
Your watercolors paint the sky
in captivating hues

You charge the phantom clouds to wing
the snow like birds to fly
and from the deep your thundered voice
calls boiling rock to rise

(Chorus)
Creator of creation
what wonders you have made
yet may our eyes more fix on you
than all that you create
to know your hallowed nature
and see your endless power
then marvel as we worship you
in this and every hour

(Verse)
When mountain growth is scorched by heat
or flowering fields by flame
Your dripping clouds and scattered dew
restore the earth again

The universe complexities
are beautiful and fierce
they evidence our frailty
Your providence made clear

(Chorus)
Creator of creation
what wonders you have made
yet may our eyes more fix on you
than all that you create
to know your hallowed nature
and see your endless power
then marvel as we worship you
in this and every hour

Amber R. Maxwell
Greg Nelson

Poppie’s Hallel/AmberMaxwell Music/ BMI (admin by Amplified Administration). All rights reserved. Used by permission.

LOSS

I love my sister, Sigrid. I call her Susie. Her husband, Bob passed away a year and a half ago. Watching her have to endure this makes me sad for her. I have so many friends, both men and women who have gone through a similar situation. No less difficult, are those with partners dealing with Alzheimer’s.

With each experience, the process is a little different. How each person deals with loss is unique. I have absolutely no idea how I could face this with Pam or vice versa.

I just wanted to write this for Sig..because I love her so much.

TWO WINTERS

It’s hard right now
two chairs just me
an empty room
of memories
this crackling fire
outside the snow
these days and hours
I’m all alone

the emptiness
with no relief
brings tearful flood
of muttered grief
come thought of you
sweet tender past
young tinder roar
now greying ash

your hand once held
and warmth I felt
a set routine
we knew so well
now there will be
no summer fall
and spring seems oh
so long ago

this was the year
of earth and love
two winters here
one’s come and gone
the crusted ice
will flow and break
but you’re still gone
my heart still aches

now slowly falls
this heightened moon
for in good time
the flowers bloom
though pain subsides
it comes and goes
but life for me
no one can know

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

HOW THINGS WERE

I’ve heard a few things in recent days that are disturbing to me. Statements like, “they’re really pushing this racial thing right now, I don’t want to be insensitive, but why don’t they give it a break. Those people should be doing such and such instead of complaining. They’re always complaining.”

This leaves me trying to figure out to whom they refer as “they”. And if “they” give it a break…what is it we get back to?

I’m soon to be 73 this year. My family history says I don’t have a very good chance for 10 more years, so I have no time whatsoever to worry about what other people should be doing…but instead… what can I do to make a difference in the turmoil of this present world as a legacy for my children, my granddaughters and their children.

Well…I can speak out. I can make music. I can write poems. So I will.

HOW THINGS WERE

those good old days
how good were they
was justice only noise
well now some say
we’ve had enough
in protest lift their voice

equality
is thought prescribed
by each of us alone
but apathy
and what has been
will never make it so

a man named Martin Luther King
a prince of prayerful means
led weave of faith
and peace that brought
our nation to it’s knees

he said the wheels of change must roll
through constant struggling
but not by might
and not by fires
of our hostility

i fear to think
i understand
so blind in many ways
am I resigned
to simply watch
oppression grind away

will I dismiss those soulful cries
and leave hate undisturbed
to just let sleeping dogs lie still
and back to how things were

well bigotry won’t be put down
without our vigilance
but courage born
brings justice for
oppressor and oppressed

now there’s a force
that can transform
of whom good Martin spoke
he said it’s thru God’s healing love
despair can turn to hope

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

THE WHY

Last night the family gathered here
our children and their own
was struck how quickly in the span
of COVID they have grown

The kids are looking older now
grandchildren talking fast
these ears strain hard to hear the things
they run to me and ask

Each one with their unique M.O.
and personality
all different yet in ways the same
in traits of family

I want to love them listening
in these the wintered years
and share with them some lessons learned
through painful times and tears

May their wanton minds not be
mere vessels to be filled
but a thought rekindled fire
to seek God’s truth and will

What are the most important things
we have in this short life
there’s much I want to say to them
though now so little time

From where we come
and why we’re here
what now as death draws near
these answers breathe in purposed lives
and help us to be clear

The two most crucial dates in time
as Mark Twain has described
are certainly the day we’re born
and day that we know why

I’m grateful for the scripture verse
God knit me in the womb
and then revealed the why for me
at Jesus empty tomb

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

WINDBLOWN DREAMS

I remember blissful days
and luxuries of youth
the first time I could drive alone
a mustang on my hood

the freedom of that outstretched arm
and fingers of my hand
weaving up and down the wave
of windblown dreams and plans

I drove along a hillside road
with trees on either side
standing tall
their branches raised
in bare limb blackened light

A thought flashed by my carefree mind
how hopeful buds would bring
the beauty patience has designed
as March turns into spring

I was so fearless early on
with family and career
but now the slow of weathered legs
are mine in yearly years

So back to this as if before
with only children’s needs
no hope of driving my old car
in wait of heaven’s dreams

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

PLANNING AHEAD

Okay, so yesterday I went to pick up some food, you know like curbside pick up. It had been a long day, so Pam and I wanted to get something easy and light. She asked me what I wanted and I told her. Then she called and placed our order, but we couldn’t pay for it over the phone. No problem. I’ll just pay when I get there.

As I was leaving to go pick it up, Pam said, “Don’t forget the credit card”. As if I was going to forget something that important. Well anyway, I arrived at the restaurant and parked in the curbside service parking spot. A sweet girl came out and I rolled down my window (wearing my mask), she greeted me and gave me the total. I handed her my credit card and off she went.

When I got home, the first thing Pam asked me was if I got the credit card back after I paid. As if I would forget the credit card. Well it doesn’t happen that often, but I did forget that one little detail this time. I told Pam, “let’s just say in theory it was the credit card I happened to forget.” Pam said, “there isn’t any theory about it, you forgot the credit card again didn’t you?“ I told her that, in a manner of speaking, I probably did. Boy was I glad I got that all ironed out.

So I sat down in my chair to think things over. She came over to me and quietly asked if I forgot anything else. (whenever Pam asks me something quietly, it does not portend any good thing happening) I thought for a minute. I didn’t forget to turn the car off, I didn’t forget to shut the door to the garage, she didn’t ask me to go get anything else so I told her I think I was pretty sure I didn’t forget anything else. Again in a quiet voice she said, “Oh, good for you, Greg. Where’s the food?”The food?

It was at that very moment I thought it would be a real good idea to go back and get the credit card….that way the food would surely be ready by then….you know it’s always good to give them a lot of time. I’m just thoughtful like that. And it’s clearly evident …..I’m a real stickler for planning ahead.

WHO’S THERE

In Act 1 Scene 1 of Hamlet, guarding Elsinore castle from a lookout platform, Bernardo opens the play with those words. “Who’s there?” Renaissance poet, William Shakespeare gives very little direction on how this line and or any of the following lines are to be acted out.

Similarly, in the Baroque era, which is associated with the life dates of Bach, there is little notation as to dynamics or specific direction in many of his scores. Self expression was the convention of this period , and employed improvisation around a theme, more akin to jazz than symphony orchestra. Art in theatre, music, visual art or dance this individual expression is a response to, or reflection of, the sun total of what we experience in life.

It’s true that art often imitates life, but art is much kinder. It has no temper or vendetta, it does not dismiss and has no need for power or control. It allows you to make an observation, to feel…and gives you as much time as you wish to express those feelings. Art is patient, does not interrupt and doesn’t demand that you believe what it conveys. It simply…is.

I believe there is an inspirational power in art, but judging from the uneasiness of today, I lament we are ignoring some of its most positive offerings…and further, not considering the voice of One whose perfection we can only imitate.

ON MY WAY

Just the other day I heard someone say, “well they’re just old and in the way.” I tried to imagine how someone could reach into their bag of meanness and say something as unkind as that.

We don’t stop living as we get older, we just find new outlets for our gifts. My eyes are extremely poor and I have tremors in my left hand. I can no longer see the music or play with intonation that my ears will allow. So I have retired my best musical friend of almost 60 years…my cello. And now a new chapter.

I may be old but far from “in the way”, and I have found a wonderful outlet. Poetry. I’ve written many songs in my lifetime, and lyric and poetry have similarities but are not exactly the same.

I realize that I’m just a journeyman and haven’t paid the price that many fine poets have for years. It’s like taking music theory all over again…except in poetry. In order to perform at a high level in basketball, baseball or any sport, you have to have a strong command of the fundamentals. Learning the rules before you break them.

For now I feel a little uneasy, but hope that as I strive hard and get the rudiments down, good craft will work confidence and other good creative sensibilities in me. It’s good to be a little uncomfortable..it keeps you on your game. For me, the process is the payoff.

I listen to as much classic poetry as I can, and that’s overwhelming all by itself. I’m very fortunate to have high school friends who are beautiful poets I really admire and from whom I can learn so much….and there is so much to learn.

I’m not pretending I’m not getting older, but in my spirit, I feel young again. I never consider myself “in the way”….just “on my way”. I don’t get into comparisons, because that only ends in misery. I just do what I do, the very best I can…and that brings me great joy!!!

I keep coming back to Pablo Casals, the great Cuban cellist who when asked why he still practiced at 90, was quoted saying, “I believe I am making daily progress.”

Me too.