Monday, January 1, 2018

Poetry Lesson now 25 years old: Eagles Can Walk

POETRY LESSON

The fragile journal had a title and an austere story. It starkly sketched the conditions of a prisoner in war; deprivation, fatigue, the unknown about how long the prisoner’s life could be and if that life would last longer than the war itself. It was a walk to somewhere-else in a log of days, steps, and crumbs.

A baseball styled hat perched on the head of a quiet, prayerful man – had ‘Stalag 17-B‘ embroidered within it. “I bet there is a story about that hat” was met with a nod. The following day at morning Mass a WWII Prisoner of War Journal passed into the hands of a curious poet. 

The face beneath the cap was full of lines – and lines, the mortar of poetry, captivated the poet. The poet read the gentleman’s journal but found no poetry inside.  Even though the title on the journal “Eagles Can Walk” was profound, there was no poetry inside the journal’s own words.

Hungry for understanding of the title and the march to what was expected to be to death; the journal is read over and over. A somberness lingered but little else until the poet decided to learn more about eagles.  

Long before being a prisoner, the soldier had dreamed of being a pilot soaring with eagles. The walking prisoner was not infantry – he was Army Air Corp.  He was an Eagle, but not soaring has he had dreamed. 

Eagles, solitary birds, are elegant fliers that soar far above the earth.  They can walk but their powerful wings make walking clumsy and awkward.  Much like a hungry, tired soldier an eagle must want to live to walk.  An eagle walks only courageously making it’s weakness -  it’s strength.

From stretching, all that the poet learned became a poem that crossed decades from the dream of flying to the dream of living to the unintended consequences of change.

Stretch your imagination for a moment and you can --- soar on the wind, build a nest, tumble & not fall, reach summits, protect your offspring -- walk to freedom and become a prayerful older man with a simple story that captivates a poet and stirs the imagination of a poet’s son.

Stretch your imagination for a moment, and you can!

eagles can walk         
dedicated to I. J. Mills & the courageous survivors of Stalag 17B
that began a walk to what became freedom (4/8/45)

Stretch your imagination for a moment
and you can soar on the wind
with the eagle bald and brave;
a young man at the edge of war
decides to serve ,  Army
Air Corps Eagle 1943

Stretch your imagination for a moment
and you can build a nest that will last forever
in lofty places it will be your castle
torn inside out by the needs of all who
inhabit, molding  traditions
American family 1953

Stretch your imagination for a moment         
and you can court the world in magnificent
flight, talons clasping in earthbound tumbling
capturing the imagination,  grow up to be
president, reaching the pinnacle
Dallas profile 1963

Stretch your imagination for a moment
and you can see what the world cannot see
chooses not to see,  talons firmly into the rock
facing the sun, the summit reached
a generation in a quest beyond
Roe vs. Wade 1973

Stretch your imagination for a moment
and you can capitalize on the white tail
waving with passive strength, across nations
protective, baring up the babes
on wings until they are strong
Soviet Union 1983

Stretch your imagination for a moment
and you can imagine your weakness
as your greatest asset, to be called upon 
often in a world that needs to hear stories
of courage, a W.W.II POW remembers
eagles can walk 1993

Stretch your imagination for a moment
and you can rendezvous with destiny
aircraft, weapons, and technology deploy
Into the Cradle of Mankind; we remember
It is the soldiers, liberating
Screaming Eagles 2003

Stretch your imagination for a moment
that we might adapt to unknown offerings of
ceaseless change, and threats undetected
capturing the wind, unintended
consequences, colliding with mortality
eagle conservation 2013



                                                                                                      
EAGLES BORN TO WALK CAN STILL FLY

                The only word capable of capturing his essence is wonder. He was born different in a world that has too many expectations for imperfection. Like an eagle born with broken wings, he was at a disadvantage. He was born a god child. God stripped him of sight, sound, and communication, yet gave him so much more. Soon after my parents told me I would be sharing my room I met him for the first time. I was only six. I had been praying to be a big brother, but at 6 feet tall my new brother towered above me. He came to the family to grow and learn, they said.  Little did I know that in the end I would be the student, my simple brother Nathan, the teacher.
Growing up I loved having Nathan around because when I was with him I was the big brother. This was a great feeling for a little brother. At night we slept with the lights on because Nathan didn’t like the dark. In the dark he was truly blind. I think that scared him. As long as I knew him, Nathan never said a word, just used sign language for the basics and improvised with the rest.
            His two inch too thick glasses enabled him to make out colors and shapes, grasping the world he could not clearly see. He would hold something as ordinary as a yellow crayon close to his eyes, color with it for hours (until the crayon was gone) and then start again. Then paper filled with color was given to me as if it was as priceless as pure gold.
Nathan spent most of his free time with his face pressed against our front door window, watching the cars fly by on the highway outside our home. Colors and speed appeared to amaze him. Neighbors driving by became accustomed to him sitting and watching, and waved to him. I wonder if he saw them wave or if he understood this gesture. How desperately did he want to understand everything he saw?   

There is one thing about Nathan I will never forget:  his Amadeus laugh, a joyous cry of laughter could make me happy in the worst of times. There is only one person that I have grown to love more than myself. I am proud that person is Nathan. He taught me that a weakness can become a strength. God took away almost everything from Nathan, but he gave him the gift of love. Lucky for me, God gave me the gift of Nathan. I suspect Nathan dreamt of flying. Gifted by love, my brother could soar higher than the rest. And, I will always leave my light on for him so he won’t have to fly in the dark. Nathan showed me eagles, born to walk, can still fly. I believe my brother will fly forever.

Stories from a dry well

early morning pour
a scribbled journal entry
down to the bone style
no reflection
~~~


Will you listen?
Be with me in my telling
discovery. The place.
The people. The why
of remembering
fractured images
black & white, once color
and visceral. Real.
Will you listen ...
eyes alert with curiosity
nods of I am with you
emotive urges of go-on
tell me more

The dry well of stories
Replenished with our tears
Teller. Listener.
Touching in our now-ness
Full facing

The rain. The rose. The romance.
The play. The spacious house. The mom.

Return in the telling
My story. Your story,
Heard. Happened. Here.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Let you Unfold

We cannot grow if we are not fully present in the evolutionary experience. Present can be challenging, uncomfortable, and tedious, but ... Enjoying and fully experiencing the journey of life is as important as achieving goals and reaching milestones. Let you Unfold.