There is a saying …

IN SOLIDARITY WITH THE PEOPLE OF BOSTON

AND

PEOPLE EVERYWHERE WHO ARE SUFFERING THE EFFECTS OF VIOLENCE

There is a saying in Tibetan, ‘Tragedy should be used as source of strength.’ No matter what sort of difficulties, how painful experience is, if we lose our hope, that is our real disaster.” Dalai Lama XIV

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Easier said than done, I know.

Photo credit ~ Bobby Makul, Public Domain Pictures.net

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coffee-1Monty Wheeler’s collection of poems, The Many Shades of Dark,  was midwifed into the world by Winter Goose Publishing. An Arkansas poet, Monty has been blogging at Babbles since December 7, 2010.

Another one of our own (a poet-blogger, that is), Monty says he’s “naught but a little old feller living out his days in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains.” He says he likes,” traditional poetic forms, writing in meter and rhyme, and I strive to keep the art of formal verse alive.” In addition to poetry and writing, he enjoys fishing, hunting, and gardening … the later apparently being a new interest.

Of his blog, he tells us in the subtitle that we’ll find a “sampling of colloquial diction, informal verse in which lacks the convoluted similes and metaphors that too often fill the lines of verse . . . and who says that poetry can’t be just plain fun.”

TheManyShadesofDark_3D-881x1000In reading his book and going backward on his blog to sample a few of the poems he wrote when he started out, I was struck by three consistent characteristics: humanity, growth and honesty. Monty’s writing is genuine. A love of and knowledge of the Bible and his religion is clear in  many of the themes explored and often in the way he uses language and imagery. A man of the South, one also senses that his idioms, diction, and cadence have their roots as much in geography as they do in the Bible, “colloquial” as he says.

Some of his poems have the feel of horror literature, but essentially they deal with the traditional Christian realms of sin, retribution, redemption and salvation. The collection ends with a simple, upbeat beauty. If these themes and styles appeal to you, you will absolutely love The Many Shades of Dark. Clearly, Monty gave much thought to the poems selected for inclusion and the order in which they are delivered.

I was particularly moved by the first poem where Monty remembers his mother’s death and contemplates the pending death of his father. He writes in relatable heart-speak:

I sense the coming loss somehow;
And with his death will come the tears
Of which I’ve fought to hold for years.

Real men don’t cry . . . or so they lied;
And even when my mother died,
I raised the River Tears’ floodgate
And brought that lie a worthy mate.
And ere before Dad’s time has come,
The knowledge that I will succumb
Runs deep and icy cold in me
Like shards of ice that none should see.

Monty’s poems speak of illness and death, of struggling with issues of faith and hope, of tragedy and triumph, of environmental abuse, and of the …

Poet’s Sword

I’ve unkempt hair and wild-eyed stare;
On paper’s white and callused glare,
My pencil flies like winded kite,
And long into the night, I write!

I brave those murky catacombs,
Where long I’ve locked my tears in tombs,
Releasing each dark fear and fright.
And long into the night, I write.

It’s only through my words, you see
The monsters of my mind set free;
I thank my God the night’s finite!
And long into the night, I write.

The demons of my private Hell
And Satan’s imps I can’t dispel,
Will flee my pencil’s sword-like fight.
How long into the night, I write!

Monty closes the book as gracefully as we all hope to close our lives:

Love’s Day’s End

When sunset settles in your eyes at last,
And when your day is dark as Night’s black skies,
When naught is left ahead and Life has cast
You aside like yesterday’s old lies,
Remember me, remember our long past;

Leave not this world with heavy heart that cries.
And come the day of Death’s assured demand,
We’ll know we lived and loved as God had planned.

Bravo, Monty, and congratulations. Both my thumbs up on this one …

© 2013, cover art, Winter Goose Publishing, poems and portraits, Monty Wheeler, All rights reserved
© 2013, review, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved

red-barn-234412802562298lCythe nights are wild and the days full of clocks
and the people weep in the darkness and by day
fumes block meditations on the sun, like lost
children, at dusk they swim in songs of the
heart and yearn for the times when day was
day and a fecund Earth was green with crops

***

I can’t make out where this painful photograph began its life. It’s just one of many that cries out for our compassionate action – our adovocacy, our adjustments in priorities, and our change of personal habits that are not productive of sustainability.

We have the power to resolve hunger and distribution issues. We apparently don’t have the will. Among other things, our governments would rather go to war then feed and educate their citizens.

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In my city, the cost of a facelift runs from $7,000 – $30,000. In 2012 the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery reported 84,685 surgical procedures among patients age 65 and older. The last I read, it cost $4,000 for United Nations to put a well in a village that has no access to clean water. I wonder what would happen if the money for facelifts went to build wells.

The Washington Post 2013-03-23: UNITED NATIONS — U.N. Secretary-GeneralBan Ki-moon warned that by 2030, nearly half the world’s population could be facing a scarcity of water, with demand outstripping supply by 40 percent. One in three people already live in a country with moderate to high water stress, Ban told a U.N. event marking the opening of the International Year of Water Cooperation 2013. more »

A Wikipedia article on hunger notes:

Throughout history, the need to aid those suffering from hunger has been commonly, though not universally, recognized. The philosopher Simone Weil wrote that feeding the hungry when you have resources to do so is the most obvious of all human obligations … Weil writes that Social progress is commonly held to be first of all “a transition to a state of human society in which people will not suffer from hunger.”

© 2013, poem and essay, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved
Photo credit ~ Kim Newberg, Public Domain Pictures.net

Related articles:

The Irish poet and writer, John O’Donohue (1956-2008) was as moved by the landscape of the soul as he was by the landscape of his country with its Celtic spirituality. An ordained Catholic priest, he eventually left the priesthood, but he never abandoned the mystical roots of his Christianity. He was a Hegelian philosopher, did doctoral work on Meister Eckhart, was fluent in Irish and German, was an environmental activist, and wrote several best-selling books (both nonfiction and poetry). His most notable work was Anam Cara:A Book of Celtic Wisdom. (Anam Cara meaning soul friend.)

    Real friendship or love is not manufactured or achieved by an act of will or intention. Friendship is always an act of recognition.”

blessthespacebetweenlrgNo one knew the name of this day;
Born quietly from deepest night,
It hid its face in light,
Demanded nothing for itself,
Opened out to offer each of us
A field of brightness that traveled ahead,
Providing in time, ground to hold our footsteps
And the light of thought to show the way.

The mind of the day draws no attention;
It dwells within the silence with elegance
To create a space for all our words,
Drawing us to listen inward and outward.

We seldom notice how each day is a holy place
Where the eucharist of the ordinary happens,
Transforming our broken fragments
Into an eternal continuity that keeps us.

Somewhere in us a dignity presides
That is more gracious than the smallness
That fuels us with fear and force,
A dignity that trusts the form a day takes.

So at the end of this day, we give thanks
For being betrothed to the unknown
And for the secret work
Through which the mind of the day
And wisdom of the soul become one.

~  John O’Donohue, The Inner History of a Day, excerpt from To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings

HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY

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