Packed tightly in cedar walls
They sit folded but unused,
Purchased for the right occasion
But now forbidden by my wife.
Still many years later they stay
Because, she says, ‘old men
Shouldn’t wear shorts.
From its perch high above
It watched the goings-on below
The diluvial transitions,
The wise men’s travels,
The 95 nails being struck by a hammer.
Like a younger sibling
It played a lesser part,
The run to the campground pit,
The romantic couple’s overlook,
The chatter of friends beside the waves.
While behind the scenes
It moved the world in subtle ways,
The boats that gently rocked,
The weather forecast altered,
The changing moods at home.
But when given consideration
It welcomes the attention,
The giant leap of mankind,
The terror of ancient tribes,
The home of the man in the moon.
Sitting in the corner
Salty tears rolled
Between the outer layer of skin
And the inner soul of a man
Whose heart cried out
In screams heard by angels alone.
His family rolled on holding hands
And inconsequential banter
Between Pavlovian bells
From electronic friends
While hollow meals and chores
Marked an eternally passing time.
As days dissolve into lonely fitful nights
With painful back, knees, head, and hands,
And heart-hurting silences from his loves,
His mind moves from corner to corner
With salty soul watering tears inside
And compassionate angels’ ears.
Someone told the weatherman
To call his coverage area
A word the community would like,
So, he called us “the heartland”.
With agriculture in the area
It certainly was on land,
And everyone in the community
Has a heart in their possession.
The weatherman was new to newscasting
With the on-air presence of a geek
Who loves storm forecasting
More than public speaking skills.
So, he called the place “heartland”
Again and again and again and again.
Thirteen times in the weather segment
So we knew he connected with viewers.
All of us who live with hearts and live upon the land
Appreciate his interest in making us feel like friends,
… But not 13 times in one segment.
At the appointed start time all had arrived.
The professor watched a chessboard of faces.
Each square showing a living smile and bright eyes.
When questions arose a dozen blue hands appeared.
The screen sharing showed only what was intended.
There were no barking dogs or screaming children.
Isn’t it pretty to think so?
The wind’s been moving the dust around the grave
For 113 years but the brush covered hill
Never grows any smaller.
The high valley snow measured in feet
Blown by the same wind to mountain drifts
Is never cleared from above her head.
The wild grasses that grip each drop of moisture
Struggle to break through the hard pan soil,
Crushed by the occasional grazing cattle.
Her sweet mother Eleanor died in sweltering Phoenix
But never did rise again after giving birth
So the baby was given her mother’s name, Nellie.
Her heartbroken father took her and her brother home
To his mother’s ranch in the Idaho wilderness
But he was taken by TB before she made a year.
In 300 days grandma Mary lost a son and a daughter-in-law.
After raising her own 15 children she became
A mother anew to infant Nellie and Ophel Jones.
The emotional agony must have been supreme
As the 3-year widow struggled to survive herself
Raising two tiny grandchildren on the dusty ranch.
But a greater test awaited her as the dry summer winds blew.
Consumption claimed orphan Nellie from Mary’s gentle arms
Never to see even one full year of life.
She took Nellie’s body to this hillside and dug a dusty hole herself,
With weighty tears striking the dirt like exploding raindrops
Mary buried the baby in the dark shadow of the home.
In the high mountain valley of Dry Buck Canyon
Nellie’s body rests alone in the dust and grass today.
No stone or cross marks the place.
at the end of Grouse Creek.
Oliver played within the warm spring
in his own back yard.
Eugene made camp beside the warm spring
known as Price's Plunge.
David swam in the warm spring pool
on the way to Featherville.
Marcus soaked in the same warm springs
Bathed in by his father, and grandfather,
His great grandfather, and great-great grandfather.
In mother nature’s South Fork playground
Nothing ever changes.
The first time I kissed a girl
She said I did it wrong.
(She told me eyes must be closed.)
The first time I kissed a guy
It didn’t take so long.
(I was really unprepared.)
The first time I wore a dress
A wig obscured my head,
(While rocking makeup, heels ‘n hose.)
The first time I saw a woman’s breast
A baby was being fed.
(I didn’t quite know where to look.)
The first time I proposed
She told me “absolutely no.”
(The second time she said “no” again.)
The first time I saw her glow
She told me she loved me so,
(And then I drove her home).
The first time I was engaged
She eloped and didn’t tell her folks.
(She didn’t tell me either.)
I’ve died a thousand little deaths since then,
Imagining places I’ll never know,
As age begins to take its toll.
But now I know to close my eyes,
To wear low heels and only glance, and
To not give up when first answered “no”.
Slide. Click. L-P-E-D P-E-C-F-D
Slide. Click. E-D-F-C-Z-P (maybe F)
Slide. Click. F-E-L-O-P (or is it B) -Z-D
Slide. Click. D-E (could be F) -F (two F’s in a row can’t be right)-P-O-T-E-C
Things begin to make sense
Slide. Click. Which is better?
As the blurry world comes into view,
Flip. Click. This one?
Facing life’s unclear choices,
Flip. Click. Or this one?
And negotiating unexpected corners.
Slide. Click. This one?
The ink and pixels, paint and light
Slide. Click. Or this one?
Give clarity to the road ahead.
Slide. Click. Which is better?
Tomorrow, God, could your hand touch
Those wrongly in incarceration,
Those suffering in isolation,
Those in eager anticipation,
Those overwhelmed by obligation,
Those seeking transformation?
Tomorrow, God, could your hand comfort
Angry men who trust in guns,
Mothers who cry for sons,
Shoulders that carry tons,
Those whose final breath departs their lungs,
And those who have lost loved ones?
Tomorrow, God, as we remember your Son arose,
Remember those confined to chairs and beds,
Remember those with chronic disease and addictions,
Remember those seeking refuge in distant lands,
Remember those desperately looking for a meal,
And then, after all that and more, if you have time, remember me.
Duty whispered “consider me,”
When commencement tassels turned.
The Guard’s education was free,
For a few years’ service earned.
Parental support was not likely,
Yet in public affairs I would be,
Creating stories that honor duty,
And the adventures of a bear named Objee.
Several enlistment forms would I see
With paragraphs on each leaf.
I read each obligation closely.
To choose the waves of the sea.
Yet the recruiter failed to show
At the appointed date and time
And a different wave claimed me.
Sometimes, when it's late at night
And I'm alone with Sportscenter
Turned down low, filling the void,
As I read dozens of search results
From hundred-year-old newspapers,
Trying to uncover a cousin
Whose name seems forgotten by time,
I feel the presence of relatives
Surrounding my chair,
Whispering in my ear, "Read that one."
"Don't quit, you've almost found me."
And when a marriage is revealed,
When the step of a sibling is understood,
When an infant death is discovered,
A child that nobody knew about,
A child whose mother's tears
Fell so far away and are long dried into dust,
I think I hear a great cheer, a shout of joy,
From beyond the TV, beyond the neighborhood,
Whispered in my ear, "thank you for remembering."
“Some men see things as they are
and ask why.
I dream things that never were,
and ask, why not?”
― Robert F. Kennedy
(borrowing a George Bernard Shaw quotation)
All content is copyrighted (c) by David C. Price and may not be reproduced, republished, or stored in any electronic or non-electronic form without the express written consent of the copyright holder.