The Curtain Rises

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Watching grandchildren grow and change is one of the joys of my life. As I think back on my childhood and on the experiences of raising my sons, I find the roles we all play and the cycle of life continue beyond myself. It is wonderful to see them moving on into the role of parent, training the next generation for roles they will inevitably take.  We have no training manual, only the example of those gone before. It is a big responsibility being the director for the next generation.

The Curtain Rises

From womb to womb my comfort displaced

Crying with stage fright I take my place

Unprepared for all the applause

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I am a star if only for the moment

Smiles and laughter greet every performance

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Gaining more confidence my part is rewritten

I  emerge shyly  from behind the curtain

Sometimes a hit sometimes a flub

Settling into the character I love

Learning, shaping, the cheers die down

Directors change the play goes on

Too much, too hard, I want to get off

The director draws me back to my spot

Reviews are harsh my lines self-written

Invincible confident I move on without flinching

Searching finally loving my part

Free to explore I speak from my heart

Loving and caring my understudies arrive

Watching and learning smiling wide eyed

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Full of wild wonder, joy, and fear

Finding their part and with pride always near

Filling in for me when I flub my line

Taking over my part as I begin to decline

The play of life a fleeting grand moment

Cherishing each and every applauded performance

Handling each misstep covering dropped lines

Awestruck  outstanding as my delivery declines

My understudies are here and now it’s their time

Life’s a stage where we all perform

Big parts and small parts lessons to be learned

As I near the end of my acting career

Great Grandpa White and Jason

Mine not for prying eyes or an audience’s loud cheer

Just a small part far from perfection

Played…then my understudy assumes the direction

With proud joy and pleasure I take my last bow

It’s time for me to go it’s their time is now.

 

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Pennsylvania Memories

 

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My birthplace and childhood home will always have a special place in my heart. Growing up in Western Pennsylvania and spending five summers on my uncle’s farm in Central Pennsylvania, has left indelible impressions in my mind. My parent and grandparents, uncles and aunts, all lived and grew up there.  Staying in Virginia after college and later moving to North Carolina has not dampened my appreciation of the state of my birth. This poem tells how I feel about it.

In the corner of the state just north of the Mason Dixon

Along the Monongahela River is a place called Masontown

I was born beside a coal bank

Just a mile outside of town

‘Twas Sunday noon on the fourth of May

Dr. Messmore came knocking out our way

He welcomed me into the world

In that good old fashioned way

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Pappa was a preacher so money was tight

A well-dressed chicken for the doc would suffice.

Pittsburgh not far from home

Only fifty-one miles up route fifty-one

A day trip to the airport was always fun

Watching TWA birds go and come

Pirate baseball cards clicked in my spokes

Alongside Cubs, Yankees, and other folks

High School trips to Kennywood Park

To ride the coaster till it got dark

Over the river and through the woods

We traveled to Grandma’s house

To Beautiful Big Valley only four hours away

On the Fourth of July and every Christmas day

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Uncles, Aunts, and lots of cousins,

Farms tractors, hay fields, and slow Amish buggies

I spent five summers there driving the tractor

Chasing cows, pitching hay, Uncle Fred was quite the actor

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Lancaster County makes me high,

Homemade Bread, Sweet Bologna, and Shoo-fly Pie

Down the Turnpike through tunnels and hills

To Ruth’s Grandma’s house up Blueball hill

Breaking down in the middle of nowhere

A broken crankshaft in my 61 Corvair

Dwight's 61 Covair

Five hours in Camp Hill… not much fun

Sitting in our car till my dad could come

Eastern Pennsylvania where two brothers reside

Is where my Mom spent her eventide

Each time we’d visit was always great fun

But glad to head south with the setting sun

Down through Baltimore, Washington, and Richmond

I-95 is never a fun run

Too many people too many roads and too many cars

Philadelphia holds no place in my mind

As much as I love my native state

My home’s in Caroline

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Pennsylvania such a beautiful state

With mountains, farms, and rivers

In my heart it’s is near and dear

I will cherish it forever

It is Pennsylvania from where my roots came

Coal dust runs deep in my veins

And although my home’s in Caroline

Memories of Pennsylvania will always make me pine

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Love Lights the Flame

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Is your flame burning as bright as it was when you first fell in love?  Time takes it toll on a relationship. All of the little splinters of life cause the flame to die down. All the residuals of unresolved issues turn the fire into suffocating powder. What does it take to rekindle the flame of the loving relationship you once had. Read the poem and enjoy the imagery.

Love Lights the Flame

Hot coals of love burn down to ashes

Glowing in the white powder of life

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Smoldering in pain and suffering

Red-orange and glowing embers of what once was

The story of our life reduced to ashes

Hard clinkers of melted molten anger

Igneous chunks of hate and despair

No life, no fire, no will to rise anymore

But then… shaken and stirred

They fall through the grate

Giving breath and life to remaining embers

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Letting go of despair shedding the pain

Finding forgiveness reigniting the flame

The breath of love makes the coals glow red

The choking dust of life shaken free

Only the embers of love remain

Rising up the rekindled flame

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Dwight L. Roth Photos:

Give me Comfort Not Truth

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What drives your choices? If you are honest you would say it is self-interest,  security, and a sense of entitlement. When our security or way of life feels threatened we are like a raccoon backed into a corner. We come  out hissing and spitting with our claws out. The older I get the more I move in the direction of wanting life to stay the same. Change makes me very uncomfortable.  It is easy to turn a blind eye to what is happening in the world. The thing is, the world is constantly changing. I may not like everything, but it will happen whether I like it or not. This poem talks about resistance to change and the feeling of entitlement.

Give Me Comfort…Not Truth

Give me comfort not truth

…It suits me better and eases my mind

In my fine house   …Behind the gate

…just down the lane

I close the door     …I don’t feel your pain

Give me comfort not truth     …Salve my guilt

…hide my shame

In my fine car    I’m not to blame

I drive on   …can’t be soiled or stained

Give me comfort not truth

…Save my soul free my mind

As I drop a five in your plate for the bottom line

I close my eyes     …my heart is blind

Give me comfort not truth

…Oh what tangled webs we weave

Don’t tell me you love me

Just please don’t tell me to leave …

Give me comfort not truth

…As I consume Earth’s wealth

Never blinking     …Fill me up

My car, My boat, My SUV, and My truck

…Isn’t life grand!

Give me comfort not truth

…Tell me what I want to hear.

God loves me more than he loves you

Maybe next year    …I’ll help you too

Give me comfort not truth   …Vote for me I’m God’s man

Tell ‘em to get a job      No more helping hand.

I’ll send our young solders    …to fight in Iran

Give me comfort not truth     …My views are always best.

ABC & NBC   FOX & CNN

I’ll close my mind       …and just pretend.

Give me comfort not truth

We are the “chosen ones” …we are blessed

We deserve it,   This “Christian Nation”

No aid for them     …In their situation

Give me comfort not truth

…Could I be wrong?

No, it would be too hard to change

This good life     …will always stay the same

God Bless the USA

We Live Among the Stones

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This poem began in an early morning dream and continued while I waited for the dental hygienist. People are like stones. Some hard and rough. Others smooth and round. Some are precious and very  valuable. Stones, like people, are reflections of the life they have lived. The bumps and grinds of everyday life shape us into what we are today.

We Live Among the Stones  

We live among the stones

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Some rounded and smooth

Others sharp and jagged

Stones fresh and raw from upheaval

Laid bare by heat and pressure

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Scorched and Broken

Stone surrounding the fossils of life

Embedded ancient remains

Relationships yet to be excavated

Stones in the river of life

Hard yet rounded smooth

Shaped by the flow of life

Stones cut and shaped to perfection

Stacked and fitted with keystone and arch

Keystone

Support and strength for all above

Stones of beauty shaped with loving hands

Smoothed and polished

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Exquisite beauty stately and cold

Stones of hurt hurled to harm

Smashing killing with devastating force

Leaving only piles of rubble behind

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Stones of moraine crushed under ice

Laid bare by the receding foot

Cold snow pack fading fast in the sunlight

Precious stones forged with extreme heat

Pressures that forever change

Leaving a greater metamorphic glory

Stones of love left in sweet memory

Of loved ones gone

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Now only names carved in stone

We are all precious stones

Jewels in our creator’s crown

Reflecting love and grace

Good Times at Nag’s Head

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The good times we had at Nag’s Head and Emerald Isle always superseded the heat of summer. In this summer of extreme heat, those memories still come to mind.  The cool ocean waves and the evening ocean breezes made our trip comfortable even in the heat of summer. Now our boys take their families to enjoy the ocean, ride the waves, and build castles in the sand, even in the heat of summer.

Good Times at Nag’s Head

Sand and surf God’s natural sandbox

A place where awe and imagination merge

Watching our two boys chase ebb and flow

Squealing with delight as the surf laps their ankles

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Amazing creatures evolve out of the sandy beach

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With each shovel full of sand they take shape

Octopus, Sea Turtles, Sharks and Whales

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All come to life at the hand of their creator

Sand Castles with moats and towered walls

Sit on the edge of destruction

Hot Rods with seat and steering wheel

Roar to life in that three year old mind

Riding the swells on a bubble of air

Feeling the power of the ocean breathing beneath

Waiting for just the right wave

Driving into the shallows

Those were good times, no, great times at Nag’s head

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Some forty years ago

Now it’s grandchildren and a new creator

Bringing awe and imagination to life

And that three-year old

Still loves God’s ocean playground

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Fear

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Fear keeps us from putting our self in harms way.  But when it is used as a manipulative tool it becomes a misperception that can take us down the wrong track. Think about the tragedies that create knee-jerk reactions resulting in new laws to protect us. Some are good and some are not very well thought through. For many, this election creates much fear and anxiety given the choices before us. Ironically it is people of faith who seem to worry most. This should not be the case if we believe what the Bible tells us: that God is in control of the nations, that all things work together for our good, and that God does not give us a spirit of fear.  It is not up to us. Read the poem and see what you think .                              

Fear creates anxiety

Believing we are helpless

Unable to control our future

Fear drives us to climb on board

Riding the band wagon of distress

Cheering the driver as we careen toward the cliff

Fear pre-empts good judgement

Listening to our insecurities

Instead of common sense

Fear is grasping for that last straw

Knowing it will not save us

But denying the inevitable

Fear is the method of control

For politicians, religious leaders, and jihadi terrorists

Dictators, Presidents, Kings, and Priests

Why do we choose a spirit of fear

When we could have ‘a Spirit of power,

of love, and of a strong mind’ (NKJV)

Light a candle of hope… dispel the darkness of fear

 

*Painting by Dwight Roth

Life’s a Chisel

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You may have heard someone say,  “I got my education at the school of hard knocks.” What they are really saying is that they have gone through some hard times that have shaped who they are today. Life can be very difficult and heart wrenching at times. It can be beautiful and rewarding as well. When we put it all together we see how we are shaped by the events in our life. This poem addresses this experience.

Life’s a Chisel

Life’s a chisel chipping away

Molding

Shaping

A little at a time

Bringing out inner beauty

Capitalizing on flaws

Revealing me

Showing my strength

Leaving scars

Cutting deep into my soul

Grace is the sandpaper

Smoothing

Polishing

Knocking off sharp edges

Love is the finish

Covering

Protecting

Enhancing my inner beauty

Unique…Eternal

The Craftsman’s masterpiece

Coal to Diamonds

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Some people have the ability to take what they are given and make something really special from it. The was true of the Choir Director at the church we attended for ten years. Betty Jo was a skilled musician who could take those of us who were average singers and create  beautiful music for the Sunday morning worship service. It reminds me of the Hank Williams, Jr. song, “I’m just an old chunk of coal, but I’m gonna be a diamond some day!”  This poem was written for her retirement as Choir Director, and says what I feel about her wonderful accomplishments.

Coal to Diamonds

Sunday after Sunday week after week

The choir at Englewood Assembly sings

A gift as unto the Lord

Some churches seek professionals

An appointment a try-out

Perfect pitch required

At Englewood Betty Jo takes any willing voice

Welcomes them into the choir

Knowing miracles really do happen

Chunks of musical coal hoping to become diamonds someday

Her group of singers honing their voices

Blending many into one

Some stand out facets shinning in the Son Light

Lifting their voices to the Lord

Diamonds formed with pressure and time

No matter whether there be few or many

Betty Jo encourages each and everyone

Knowing Coal becomes Diamonds in His Light

Every Sunday Morning at Englewood Assembly

A choir of sparkling diamonds sings

A master embodying the Master

Gathering jewels for His Crown

 

Black or White

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When someone thinks they have all the answers, it makes me take a step backwards. Many atrocities have been done in the name of being right. The more rigid we become in our thinking, the more we want things to be either black or white.  It seems politics is often driven by fear. As we listen to our political candidates, we get the impression that they have everything figured out, and all of their solutions are in black and white. No matter how right we feel we are, I believe we must be open to interact and exchange ideas with others. This poem talks about the importance of grays in our life.

Black or White

I want life to be black or white

Everything easy and I am right

But it really doesn’t work that way

Life is full of contradictions they say

 

Why can’t life be black or white

Perhaps I wouldn’t be so uptight

But grays are part of every life

I’ve known pain that cuts like a knife

 

The world wants things in black or white

Good or bad we have to fight

To protect our perfect way of life

Seems it causes bitter strife

 

To always think in black or white

Fills me with fear and causes me fright

Extremes affect the way we think

And leaves our nations on the brink

 

Why can’t we realizes we need the grays

Shadows bring accents in many ways

Creativity and paradigm shifts

Would not be possible without the mix

 

Must we think only in black or white

Judging our brothers when “they don’t do right”

Or can we simply love their flaws

The grays and shades are part of us all

 

Black and white makes everyone halt

Shutter and cringe at every fault

Blends are the creations we all need

To love our brothers, and not to bleed

But I guess as long as there are two

Black or white will judge them too

 

Love the differences don’t get up tight

Live in peace and let’s not fight

Recognize that if we want to survive

Black and white will not keep us alive

Thinking we are always right

Life will surely be a fright

 

Black and White Photo taken in Philadelphia – 1976 – Dwight Roth