Selected Photography, Art, and Poetry

by Harold S. Walker

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    Brother Pak

    We stand at the bus station
    And I try to get one last good look at you—
    Black hair, smooth brown skin, black eyes, and
    that
    funny, flat nose.
    And though we stand but a few feet apart,
    We are a culture apart;
    We’re distant—
    as far from east to west
    and back again.
    So far.
    And yet
    We are so near—
    You were baptized today and now
    we’re brothers in the same family,
    So close, now.
    And as I look at you
    (remembering how hard we all worked to
    reach this day),
    I want to
    Hug you—
    But don’t
    Because I know in the Orient, that’s not exactly
    proper in public.
    So I’ll love you from a few feet’s distance,
    Knowing and wanting to tell you so much
    more—
    Wanting to remind you of the truths we
    have studied together,
    Wanting to tell you what it really meant today
    as
    the blue ocean gently swallowed you.
    See, even now the saltiness clings to my skin,
    as you will to my memory for a long time to
    come.
    So shake hands now, the bus is boarding.
    We may never see each other again,
    But, as you know
    We can …

    [photo] Photo by Wendy Chan

    [illustration] Illustrated by José Ortega

    The Teenager

    Skateboarding
    Along the carefree paths of childhood,
    A shove from somewhere
    Sent me
    Careening through the halls of growth
    To sprawl
    In the world of the adult.

    Jungle Life

    My brother is
    a gorilla.
    It’s his jungle
    and
    he owns
    all
    the bananas.
    He gives me
    the green ones
    when
    he
    feels like sharing.
    But
    when I’m stuck in a tree,
    he sends
    a swinging vine,
    tells me
    people jokes,
    makes me
    banana cream pie,
    and lends
    a hairy hand.

    Shoes

    I attended a funeral today
    for the two best friends
    I ever had.
    We worked together
    and played together.
    They were there when
    I hit home runs
    and climbed trees.
    But now their soles
    are laid to rest.
    And in my mind
    A dirge resounds
    as the garbage truck
    pulls away.

    [photo] Photo by Elisabeth Vorkink

    Smiles

    The world’s a smile
    and we are smiling inhabitants
    with people smiles
    free-movie smiles
    top-of-the-Ferris-wheel smiles
    hi-there smiles
    well-hidden I-know-you-saw-me smiles
    half-hearted winter’s-coming smiles
    you’ve-got-to-be-kidding smiles
    shy little sister smiles
    refrigerator’s-full smiles that make you smile
    in a midnight milk and cookie sort of way
    uncomfortable welfare-line smiles that never fit right
    not-in-the-mood-to-smile smiles that never reach the eyes
    smirking smiles
    sneaky smiles that want to be grins
    remember-the-time smiles
    smiling at people who walk in the rain
    smiley-button smiles
    laugh-with-me smiles and cry-with-me-too smiles
    life smiling
    you smiling at me smiling
    one smile …
    smiles

    [photos] Photos by April VanDever

    Too Young

    They say Mary was young.
    I don’t think of her as the mature Madonna
    The artists show,
    But a young girl
    With the light of that star shining in her eyes.
    Was just another poor farm boy—
    He probably felt awkward in their fancy churches,
    But he prayed, too.
    Maybe
    Too young to be important
    Is just a state of mind.

    [photo] Photo by Julia Harris

    Differences

    If,
    After a day of hurts and misunderstandings,
    You feel there are two types of people in the world—
    You, and everyone else—
    Let me assure you,
    You are wrong:
    There are three—
    You, everyone else, and me.

    Real Life

    In my dreams
    You looked a little different.
    You were wearing this dashing white hat
    As you galloped up on your trusty steed
    And swept me away
    Into an endless sunset.
    So, pardon me,
    My valiant knight,
    If I didn’t recognize you when you pulled up to my door
    In your broken-down Volkswagen with the cracked windshield.
    But that sparkle in your eye looked familiar.
    Yes,
    You can be my valiant knight
    And I will be your lady
    Just like in my dreams.
    Only better.

    No

    “No, I’m not in love,” I said,
    As he gazed into my eyes,
    “But you could say I’m interested,
    And want to find out why.”

    [photo] Photo by April VanDever

    [photo] Photo by William Kelly

    Colors

    I never was lost
    always knew the path was there
    but the other road had people—
    exciting people
    different colors always changing
    sometimes blending
    colors always seemed
    to make life much more real
    but too many colors
    blended together
    turn to black

    [photo] Photo by Glen Ashdown

    [illustration] Illustrated by Annie Grobler

    [photo] Photo by Steven Yount

    Haiku

    Darkness creeping through
    the trees, leaves charcoal sketches
    on the crystal snow.

    A Touch

    His children planted on the earth
    With arms for burdens not their own,
    And slithering venom given birth
    To raise the hands that cast the stone.
    Great fingers touching sight to eyes,
    Hands to work the wood
    To which they would be nailed.
    Hands washed of his blood.
    O, cunning one, to separate
    The palms of saintly arm
    To teach the hands to emulate
    A blackness bent on harm.
    I wondered at a way to slap
    The sliding serpent down,
    Cause lightning and a thunderclap,
    Restore both throne and crown.
    To find a power greater far
    The foe cannot withstand.
    When I unclenched my fists, I saw:
    I held it in my hands.

    Do You Remember?

    Do you remember the sweating days of summer,
    when the hot sun did magic to your skin
    and made you an Indian?
    You had barely escaped from the first grade,
    and could hardly even begin to think about the next year
    and being a whole grade bigger.
    Mom’s marigolds didn’t take it too graciously
    when you decided to fall in love with the girl next door
    and knew that the purple weeds that grew in the field across the street
    just weren’t enough.
    There were always candy-bar days and ice-cream days
    and days of eating chocolate chip cookies on the swing—
    still warm and melty and ohsogood.
    You remember now the backyard town that needed no name,
    and the treehouse where you spent so many library-book days—
    so way up.
    One time you got to ride your bike all the way to the drugstore
    with $.15 in your pocket that jingled and kept time
    to your up-and-down knees the whole way …
    and on the way back your mouth was one big sugar-sweet wad
    of bright pink bubble gum.
    Those were the days
    that you walked into the baking kitchen
    with stolen strawberry smiles,
    thinking mom would never know;
    but she always did, and she held you hostage
    until you confessed and apologized—
    and you laughed when you ran outside
    because moms never learn the secret of crossed fingers.
    Sprinkler shenanigans that outsmarted the sun,
    and trips to the warm green pool
    that made your eyes look like roadmaps.
    Visits to Grandma and Grandpa’s porch
    where Grandma knitted you all kinds of things,
    and where you went for rides on Grandpa’s knee,
    always hoping that your mount would never tire.
    Aladdin’s lamp, King Arthur’s court, beautiful princesses, Tom Sawyer,
    and one last glass of water …
    and then you slept
    and remembered.

    [photo] Photo by Debby Thiemann

    [photo] Photo by Robert Kempton

    Balloons

    Although I’m twelve,
    almost thirteen,
    my brain
    tells me
    I like
    balloons.
    When
    my hair turns
    gray,
    I’ll
    still
    be going to
    the circus,
    and,
    on my 97th
    birthday,
    I plan
    to climb
    a tree.

    A Simple Question:

    Does he have no feelings,
    Or do I have too many?

    Mother

    I’ve been so often wrong.
    Yet always,
    You reach into
    Your mind,
    To retrieve a look
    Monumental
    With compassion.
    And somehow, we laugh.

    [photo] Photo by Julia Harris

    [photo] Photo by Kevin Rummler

    Spring Rain

    Windchime water, falls
    to shatter on stubborn stones.
    Broken heirloom orbs.

    Winter Warmth

    There’s snow on the mountaintops now,
    Winter’s herald ethereal and otherworldly
    to those who still bask
    in Autumn’s fiery valley.
    Firstfruits of the frosty season,
    crystalline crown
    shoots rays of whiter light.
    Kingly cloak
    in snowy splendor
    hugs the shoulders
    of the hills.
    Glacial glory
    shows Persephone’s gone below.
    Strange,
    how my heart can be so heated
    by as cold a thing
    as snow.

    Bittersweet

    The tray is passed,
    Sacrament solemnly taken and
    Followers
    Young and old
    Acclaim Discipleship …
    just as those ancient Apostles
    When in the upper room
    Partook:
    understanding the significance only in part
    The bread and wine an ominous prelude
    To the bitter dregs of …
    Gethsemane—
    And Calvary
    That only He,
    The Son of Man could drink.
    His suffering turned sweet only as …
    we consign our will to His
    and let our spirit be healed by his godly touch.
    May we remember him as
    He remembered us.

    Farewell

    There is
    Within my sorrow at our parting,
    A sweet and secret gladness for my grief:
    For I know
    This pain would not be mine
    Had I not felt the joy of loving you, before.
    And I know
    I can bear this selfish sorrow,
    Relinquish you to peace that you deserve,
    And walk alone for a moment in eternity,
    Because your Father also gave you up
    At the moment of birth,
    Knowing full well
    It might be
    Forever.

    [photo] Photo by Dan Steenhoek

    [photo] Photo by Frank Keeney

    [photo] Photo by LaMont Singley

    [photos] Ice cream photos by Jed Clark