Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Night and the Solar Wind

Copyright 2009

Across the night sky,
along ancient, spectral avenues
blow magnetic winds
charged with electric particles
and along those roads travel
all mankind’s fondest aspirations
with the flow of matter
stark, eternal
yet as ethereal as
a sigh.

May you blow hope in the heart of the hopeless
may you blow peace in a warring land
may you blow calm in a troubled mind
may you blow redemption for the piteous lost one

May you blow the love of God to the hearts of
the callous
the distant
the arrogant
the powerful
who stand as a law to themselves
crowned with their carefully crafted ignorance
cloaked in cold self interest,
estranged from their brothers
dreadfully lost in their own exaggerated egos.

May it be, strange wind,
as you course darkly through space
and wrap the earth in freshening power,
that the blackest night
of the human soul
is illuminated somehow
by you,
slightest breath of the great I Am.

Monday, March 9, 2009

In Memoriam

I lost a dear friend on Saturday. My hiking buddy, close friend, and business associate, Bud Wilson, passed away at the age of 65 of an apparent heart attack.

I seem to be losing people with a distressing frequency. My mother passed away in February of 2008; my Uncle passed away in July of that year; and now Bud is gone, long before his time. Each one has hit me in a different way, but each was a body blow. They all hurt.

Bud was the very picture of health. He was a strict vegetarian, did not smoke, and usually hiked five or six miles daily. He could literally walk me into the ground on the backpacking trips we made in the past few years up in the mountains of western North Carolina. That is just part of what makes his death such a shock. I thought that Bud would long outlive any of his peers, including me. Life and fate operate in unknowable ways.

Bud was a high energy guy, enthusiastic about many things including the National Funding Association, which he co-founded and headed, as well as hiking, photography, genealogy, and music. Bud was something of a renaissance man, with interests as diverse as stock market investing and single-action firearms.

On our forays into the wilderness, he proved to be knowledgeable about woodcraft, camping techniques, and nature. Bud took all the backpacking pictures you see here on the blog. I often called on him as a sounding board about business, politics, and life in general.

On Thursday, March 12, we will bury our friend. I have been asked to serve as pallbearer. When I am past the shock and deepest grief, I shall compose a poem for Bud. It is the very least I can do for such a good man.

Meantime, all I can think to say is good-bye, old friend.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Sunset of Valor

Copyright 2009

Sheets of yellow flame issue
from a thousand rifled muskets
as the blue ranks pour fire through the trees.
The vines and low limbs jerk and twist
under the hail of lead.
The ragged, butternut line shivers and recoils like a single being,
and then recovers and blazes back in furious answer.

In this wilderness battle
the winners and the losers
are one and the same
as death grins darkly
from the shadows
with the fall of each farm boy
face down to the damp earth

as if striving for that final resting place
seeking the comfort of cool soil
solace from this hell on earth
where smoke and flame
consume the body
consume the hope

A boy of sixteen loads his musket
face black from powder
hands shaking
stomach clenching with hunger
and the feasting of lice completes his orgy of suffering
in a dank tangle of rotting forest
where death makes himself at home
and the blue and the gray
mourn their lives
and cleave to death
where to live is to suffer
and to hope presages
the most piteous despair.

The dark presence welcomes each one
his arms open wide
the unexpected friend.