Saturday’s Silence


My sister shared this with me today.  The sun is bright, the air fresh. We are alive and well, grateful to be safe at home. I share this photo and words from the Corrymeela Community in Belfast:
God of grieving,
God of silence,
there is a strange gift in having time,
one whole day this holy week,
to sit with questions of why
and how long
and to hear no response at all.
To rush from Friday to Sunday,
from death to resurrection,
wouldn’t do either justice.
Nor would it dignify the life
of those whose daily pain and grief
and constant pleas for justice
go unanswered in the world’s daily rhythm.
Let your silence fill this silence,
until our empty noise dies out.

Corrymeela Community is a non-profit organization in Northern Ireland dedicated to help bring healing to those who were traumatized by the many years of conflict and violence  that occurred there between Catholic and Protestant factions.   

Katydid Still Sings


Once again we hear of senseless shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio. In a world filled with stress and divisiveness this has sadly become something to be expected.  Without addressing the root problem of mental illness it will continue on into the future. The song of the Katydid reminds us that life will go on in spite of us.

Sounds of shots echo

Evil rears its ugly head

Katydid still sings


Photo: Public Domain

Frank Tassone asks us to write a Haikai poem that includes the Katydid.

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Country Soul Music

Today at d’verse Amaya asked us to think about music that touches our soul and brings tears to our eyes! I have been a lover of country music since I was a teenager. Traditional Country Music has always been embedded in the lives of the listeners. Listening to it is often like watching a reality show. Vince Gill gained fame in the early 1990s, and his song Go Rest High on that Mountain touches my soul like no other. He finished it after the death of his brother a couple of years earlier.

The clip above is from the funeral of George Jones, where he sings his classic song with Patty Loveless.  George Jones, a veteran of Classic Country Music, was a close friend of Vince. As you listen, you can’t help but get caught up in the intense emotion flowing from this song. It is truly one of the great songs of our time.

Music searches the soul like nothing else;
Setting words on fire // lighting the spirit;
Inspiring our hearts // connecting us with God.
Tears flow as I listen to Go Rest High on the Montain;
Crying for my loss // Crying for their loss
Coming face to face with my mortality
Knowing at some time the center of focus will be me.
Empathy, pain, and grief all rolled into one;
Cathartic tears cleanse my soul // resets my spirit;
A time of reflection past … present … and future


This is the official version of the song:


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Invisible Feelings of Loss


What do you say to one who has lost
A spouse… a child… or a loved one dear…
When ceremony has passed and flowers have faded?
How do we handle those feelings of loss
For a week or two we might inquire…
Wondering how they are doing; in their quiet solitude
Of grief and pain; in the empty spaces of the heart.
But time goes on, those questions retire.
Pain and loss become invisible feelings
That friends have talked about long enough…
Lest repetition stir up more than they can handle.
It’s time to pass over those invisible feelings!
No time for the crying heart; only a mask of smiles // “I’m fine”;
But, if you look closely, invisible feelings are glistening in their eyes.

Photo: Dwight L. Roth

Merril, at d/Verse, asked us to think about things around us that we miss or have made invisible. She asked us to be creative in our responses, so I decided to write about invisible feelings. It is often hard to know what to say to someone who has had a great loss in their family. Perhaps it is just better to be there for them. Talking some times gets in the way.

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Coming to America


Goodbye Little Sister  (The Long Sad Voyage of 1882)


The ships tall masts reaching high to the sky

Awesome for a boy of six // wondering why

His family packed up and left their home

Heading for a new world they travel alone

Brothers left behind grown and married

Younger brothers and sisters stay with the family

Watching the Alps fade as the shadows wane

To the port of Le Havre floating down the Seine

Ready to board this giant bucket of timber

Excitement rising trying to remember

All of his friends left behind in Basel

New adventures unseen in this perilous travel

Noise and activity surrounds them all

White sails slide up and begin to unfurl

Down to steerage on the ships second level

The family of Roths find a place to settle

Into the briny dark seas they sail

To New York Harbor where liberty hails

As the week drags on the voyage is rough

Young Christian and sister find sleeping is tough

The food is bad // unlike cooking back home

The water in barrels kept from the rats’ roam

But somehow this packed and unsanitary condition

Made some folks sick with dysentery emissions

Little sister was one whose resistance was lacking

As the days dragged on her fever not slacking

Worried mother and father prayed for God’s backing

Little sister got worse // there was nothing to do

As her fever raged on everyone knew

Late one night while everyone slept

Little sister passed on our little angel had left

O how we cried  // and mourned this great loss

Little sister had died before we’re across

The captain came by early that dawn

Saying sadly “She’s gone and we must send her on,”

The day was spent in tears and sad wails

As the orange sun was setting we bid our farewells

Wrapped in a blanket lowered into the swell

Into the briny blue she fell

With prayers and weeping // sadness abounds

Young Christian stood watching as folks gathered round

Little sister was gone // for her t’was too late

Wondering if he might be next for this unhappy fate

On reaching New York the emigrants unloaded

Ellis Island was crowded // each family recorded

Christian and family moved on to Ohio

With promise of hope always held high

Words still to come reflect how it should be

Give me your tired // your poor // yearning to be free

Give me your sad // your distraught // still counting the cost

Seeking religious freedom in a land unknown

Where Freedom and Liberty stand alone!


Le Havre port  –  Bing Photo


Bjorn at d’Verse asked us to write a poem using a story narrative. I wrote this poem last years about my Grandfather’s experience of coming to America at the age of six. I decided to repost this fictional narrative. The only fact I had was that when they sailed from France to come to America his little sister died on the journey. I had to fill in the details from my imagination. I took all the details I had and wrote a fictional biograpy of my grandfather Christian Roth.


Most of us who live in America are descendants of immigrants by choice or by force. We have no idea the sacrifices that were made to come and live in freedom. In the year 1882, my Grandfather came as a young boy of six, only to see his sister die on the way across the Atlantic. (In those days when a child died the name was not always recorded in the family tree.  This seems to be the case in this case!) His parents left Switzerland for freedom of religion. Many immigrants have come in the years following for many reasons. It is sad that emigration today has been equated with fear and criminality.

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Fading Shades of Gray

Mother and Dad

Fading Shades of Gray  (a Hai bun)

Watching my father-in-law’s mind fade from shades of gray to black evoked a lot of emotion.  It became noticeable to my wife and me when we visited her parents in 2009. Driving us across Edmonton to the Science Center, he got mixed up and forgot how to get there. Apparently this happened before, because Mother had written the directions for him on index cards. Later she told us that one day he came out to the parking deck, after volunteering at the hospital and could not find his car. She kept tabs on him until 2012 when she developed a brain tumor.

Giving up his keys and driving privileges it was very hard on him, but the hardest thing for him to understand was when they were in separate care facilities. He would ask about her over and over, and could not quite comprehend what was happening. After she died, he kept expecting her to return. He is now 90 and seems to have adjusted to his confinement, even telling friends who visit that they should try to get a room there as well. He tells them that they take good care of him there.

Winter brain cells fade

Short term mem’ry turns to black

“Helen, Where are you?”


Photo: Dwight L. Roth

Bjorn, at d’Verse~Poetry Pub asked us to write a Hai bun using the word gray. I chose to write on the graying effects of Alzheimer’s on the brain.

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No change is brought though prayers besought

Unanswered question of century…s past

What happened to the miracles we were taught

    when our call remains unanswered? 

When God sheds tears from heaven no joy is brought…

When we walk through the valley of the shadow

of death… we fear every evil

     of which there are many

     lurking in the shadows

     like fanged creatures waiting to strike

Parents without their children cry with the widows

Raging and venting their anger

      against God and man


“Why was it my child who had to die today?”

Love and grace hide behind the storm clouds… 

Pouring buckets of salty tears over the whole land.

Forty days and forty nights will nare suffice…

No ark prepared for this kind of calamity

     will lift man or beast to the mountain top.

Grief runs deep as God remains in the shadows…

As always, waiting for the clouds of grief to separate

     letting the light and hope shine through once more.


Photo: Dwight L. Roth

Cry for the Children

Image may contain: flower, plant, nature and outdoor

Cry for the Children

My hear grieves //my spirit is torn

Echoing screams fill the halls

Mixing with insane shots fired

Everyone has opinionated afterthought

Newsless news keeps chewing and spewing…

Regurgitating video of the fear and carnage.

Easy solutions come from the left

Blind denial from the right

Mental health still not funded

FBI failed to follow up on a tip

Anger and rage treated with expulsion

Once again // parents must bury their children

“When will we (they) ever learn…When will we(they) ever learn?”


Last line from Pete Seeger song, Where have all the Flowers gone?

Photo: Dwight L. Roth

Rest in Peace My Friend


My good friend and former boss died this past week. It was very sad to hear the news. He was a great person to work for and a great person to learn from. Those of us who loved him will miss him greatly. This is my tribute to him as I reflect on my experiences with him.



Friend brother and boss

Hardworking hard driving visionary

Always looking at the bigger picture

Seeing things many could not comprehend

Organizer manager salesman

Making things work no matter what

Loyal to friends big hearted caring

Church builder engineer and architect

Got things done made things happen

Project planner a stickler for detail

A lifetime of experience a lifetime of stories

Always accompanied by a big hearty laugh

Old school in his thinking rubbed some the wrong way

Cultural attitudes carried over from childhood

Loved singing in the choir

Amazing Betty Jo survived the both of us


Never too busy to laugh and talk with his employees

Sent Mr. Ed for biscuits from Oak Level Café

Ask him a question he had an answer

Usually a very good one

Ask him about his past and he would spin a yarn a mile long

Tales of farming and raising chickens

Hunting and a still down by Pig Bottom creek

Crop dusting close calls

Working for Heinz Pickles in the cucumber business

Stories of pulling tusks out of hogs

Running a convenience store in Nashville

Stories of seeing Celia at Red Oak school

for the very first time

Knowing right then

She was the cutest little girl he had ever seen

Losing his sense of taste in the Chemistry Lab

at Red Oak High School

Marrying young and lived upstairs in his parents’ house

Eating mama’s biscuits sopped with molasses

Made a meal a feast

Riding with son Chris on the biggest Ford tractor in Nashville

Letting Chris drive it in the field when he was very young

Almost too small to reach the peddles

looking like it was driving itself

Stories of the little church on Clinton Court

Sunday evenings singings that never stopped

He and Celia going with Marvin and Betty Jo

to Hardies for ice cream after church

Implanting the vision to build Englewood Assembly

Drawing the plans and seeing it come about

as everyone joined in

Investing his money into the project to help make it happen

Meeting Augustine and his crew for the first time

as the sheetrock was going up

A mutual relationship that lasted many years

as they continued to help each other


Proud of his girls Tammy and Terri

who stepped in to help

when the business was in a crunch

When folks had a need he often stepped in to help

Bunky was not perfect

He was not a saint

He was like all the rest of us

Saved by the grace of God

Made perfect in his sight

Rest in peace my friend!

















Awaiting Metamorphosis


Downsizing and moving to a smaller residence can be very traumatic for some of us who are growing older. The decision to make a major change can leave one with a lot of anxiety. Leaving the house you love and lived in for the past twenty years is not easy. Not knowing what the future holds makes us uneasy. The upside is that our life can become easier to manage with less responsibilities. It may give us the opportunity to develop new interests and meet new people who can enrich our lives. This poem takes a look at facing the changes that come with aging.

We wrap ourselves with strands of life

That tells our story from front to back

A life of joy and sorrow

All woven into that cocoon we call home

Layer after layer we weave the strands

Stories, pleasures, and memories abound

Bringing undefined feelings of love

To our ephemeral life

Family and friends give life its edge

Children and grandchildren cut deep into our souls

Embedding themselves in the fabric of our cocoon

Cool crisp mornings with coffee and tea

Birds and flowers and vines of Kiwi

Unspeakable joy and pleasures surround

In our home cocoon we’ve so tightly wound.

Time to let go and break out of our shell

Who knows what joys and pleasures we’ll tell

In transformation of mind and matter

Though parting is great sorrow

There is still hope for tomorrow

Beyond this cocoon we call home