Nothing is Permanent

 

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I was sad to receive word last week that that my childhood neighbor had passed away at age 94. He was such a creative and talented man and father of a my childhood friend and playmate. When I saw him two years ago, he still had many good memories to share. It reminded me once again of the impermanence of life.
100_0192 (2)        It has been over fifty years since I lived next door in my childhood home, which now gives the impression of impermanence as you can see. This evening Merril, at d’Verse Poets Pub, asked us to write a poem that reflects on the significance of impermanence.

Nature reminds us
Everything in life changes;
The sun still rises.
But houses deteriorate;
And good friends and neighbors die.
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Photo: Dwight L. Roth

Join us at: https://dversepoets.com

Where Have You Been?

My father-in-law. who had Alzheimer’s, was confined several years ago after his wife was diagnosed with a brain tumor. This all took place within a month and a half. Initially we took him to visit her in her care facility across the city; but. he forgot he saw her by the time he got back to his residence.
It was very difficult for him that first year and after she passed away. When we went to visit we found notes written on his dinner napkins asking where she was and why she did not come back. It was heartbreaking to read his pleas for answers. Although we explained everything to him it was not long till he again asked the same questions. The note writing stopped after about a year. He seemed to be resigned that he was there by himself and only asked about her on occasion. He was there for five years and died in 2018.

In the winter of life the fog sets in
obscuring the obvious and familiar
Leaving one to memories past;
today’s events already forgotten.
A perspective very different
from yours and mine;
Time stands still …
like looking in a mirror to the past;
Closing the windows of the present.
Anxieties not understood
plague the mind and thoughts.
Looking for a spouse long gone;
Expecting to see her any moment;
Wondering where she is
and when she will return.
Distraught to the point of resignation
the fog becomes more intense.
Time slows down as the hour glass trickles
until finally // the top glass is empty.

This beautifully haunting song by Kathy Mattea helps bring the sadness of this disease into perspective.

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Surreal Dreams

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The tragic death of basketball star Kobe Bryant, his daughter, along with seven others in a helicopter crash once again reminds all of us that ,”life is but a dream!” It can be taken from us in an instant. It is so sad when lives are taken in their prime. For those left behind it must all seem like a bad dream.

Sudden death brings shock
Like living a dream too surreal
Never forgotten
Their spirit’s always with us
A deep sadness lies within

Photo: Dwight L. Roth

At d’verse Lillian asked to write a poem about dreams. There are many kinds of dreams. I chose to reflect on the events of this week, and the lives lost in California.

Join us at:  https://dversepoets.com

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Patriotic Pride

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On a trip to Myrtle Beach, we saw this truck parked on a corner, in front of a motel where everyone would see. The U.S. Army flag was kept unfurled with a rod. Many returning Veterans wanted all to know that though they came back home, some of their fellow soldiers did not survive. Patriotism and Pride runs deep this Memorial Day.

Band of Brothers’ bond

runs deep, remembering those

flag covered coffins

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Photo: Dwight L. Roth

Invisible Feelings of Loss

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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.

Join us at: https://dversepoets.com

Coming to America

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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!

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Le Havre port  –  Bing Photo

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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.

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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.

Join us at d’Verse: https://dversepoetry.com

 

Cleansing Fire

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Each evening we see the videos of the out of control fires in California. The latest one was started by someone with intent. The fire turned into a roaring inferno, destroying whole communities.  The evil that was perpetrated on homeowners will take years to recover. The landscape will recover faster. Forgiveness comes with a price.

Cleansing fire roars through

Fueled by dry summer brush

Souls need cleansing fire

Devil’s fire swept hillsides clean

Holy fire brings humility

 

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Painting and Photo: Dwight L. Roth

Franks Tassone challenged us to remember the wild fires burning in the West.  Ironically the fire referred to as “Holy Fire” is the one started by arson .  We are to do a Haikai poem that uses or eludes to the word fire. I did a spinoff on this by looking at the way this fire might affect those who are victims of the damage it caused and the deaths that resulted, and how the Holy Fire of the Spirit is the only thing that will bring forgiveness.

Come join in at:   https://frankjtassone.com/2018/08/11/haikai-challenge-46-8-11-18-fire-haiku-senryu-haibun-tanka-haiga-renga/

 

Letter to My Adopted Grandson

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Our prompt from Bjorn at d”verse, is to write a letter to someone in poetic form.  I wrote this for my grandson who was adopted when he was a year and a half.  It is written from his new mother’s perspective, and addresses his emotional struggles and insecurities that came with such a transition. It is a lullaby, which I recorded, but could also serve as a letter. He has adjusted and is doing very well.

Sweet Baby Boy

Sweet baby boy just close your eyes

Go off to dreamland with a sigh

Sweet baby boy fly away

To worlds unknown beyond the eye

*

Sweet baby boy come to me now

With all your tears a cryin’

Sweet baby boy I’ll ease your fears

And soon you’ll be a sighin’

*

And when you wake I’ll be right here

Near you I’ll be lyin’

To keep you safe and let you know

This is your home where I am

*

Through tears and fears throughout the years

I’ll always be your Mother

And though you might not understand

There’ll never be another

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*For my grandson who was adopted when he was a year and a half old. 

Come join us at d’Verse~Poetry Pub:  https://dversepoets.com/

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?”

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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.

Visit us at: https://dversepoets.com/

Why??????

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Why???????

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?”

“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.

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Photo: Dwight L. Roth