Selected Photos, Art, and Poetry: Inspirational Insights

by William H. Powley


Playing Checkers with Granddad

Granddad taught me checkers
when I was six. I admired
his eyes each time
my back five waited in danger,
but he would not let me prevail.
Not once. Year after year
we played checkers
on our oakwood table,
pieces on my end
swallowed by his thumb
and forefinger. He jumped
three in one second.
“Protect your front,” he declared.
With my life, I tried,
but lost my checker eye
under his translucent stare.
He’d tell me once or twice
I was improving, his words
enough to set up another board.
At eighteen my victory cry
sounds through the house
and stops, a vacuum pulling
pieces backwards, warning him
of his danger, his life unknown.
Now I have to tell Grandma
Granddad is dying.
I hesitate this time,
my front checkers unguarded.

Planting Pine Trees in the Backyard

Father’s hands
like knotted roots
teach me to plant
his burlap-balled
starter trees
as I dig holes
on the backyard hill
two feet down
in Cambrian stone
and white sand.
I use my hands
to plant pines
that will outlast me
through winters, reach up
between telephone wires,
the ringed years adding
circle on circle
for my posterity.

[photos] Photos by Eric Swenson

If You Are Having Reception Difficulties, Please Call …

The static creates
fuzz in my brain
The whine in my ears
makes me cringe
Horizontal, vertical, color, tint …
My tracking seems
to be really off.
I either need
a bigger antenna
and some fine tuning,
Or
a more humble heart
and a more honest prayer.

I Made a Quilt This Summer

I made a quilt this summer.
I sewed scraps of my soul to
A background of rosebud-dreams
And waited patiently as invisible
Hands from the past
Guided my stitches.
Small voices from the future gave my quilt
Life, and I
Smiled when I saw the
Finished product.
My friends questioned my
Simple summer,
But although it was not Europe
And didn’t make noise and bright lights,
It was me.
I made a quilt this summer.

[illustrations] Art by Hinarera Hunt

Cancer

I walk beneath the empty trees, now dark,
crackling the skeletons of leaves left behind.
Another winter comes, and who will find
me here, who joins me walking through the park?
My dear brother, a second winter was not
for you; the cold comes now like a thief at night,
like that shadowy intruder who took before my sight
your eyes, and all your life for which we fought.
Three of us remain, a photo of the four
stands proud on mother’s hearth.
We meet and talk
in quiet tones of you, of Life, and the Rock,
Who chose to take you, and be with us no more.
You may know Him—may see Him better in your scope.
Stay with him, brother: it is He
who gives us hope.

[illustrations] Art by Rachel Turner

Camping on the Patio

On summer nights,
grass not yet damp,
we rest on our backs
before bed
letting the world,
everything that held us
down, take us with it,
the sky, each star
locked in its place,
turning. Heaven,
we called it.
One night, after a week
knotted with high winds,
we watched clouds pile up,
a known dark above us
collapsing to blackness.
We believed God was up there,
hidden. The rain broke
suddenly, we were soaked
before we could get up
and sprint to the house.
The lightning sky
flashed to us,
a moment of white.
This is what He looks like,
my brother said
as we ran to the porch.
Then again, another crack
backed by thunder
halved a changing dark.
We looked uneasy,
eyes blinded
as if God arrived.

Wind

I saw him one day,
shaking my flowers
I watched him one day,
trying to push the palm tree
I felt him one day,
pulling on my hair
I wondered one day,
why he carried away so many twigs
I laughed one day,
when he knocked my brother over
I wished one day,
that I could be as free as he,
wished that I could go where I
pleased without being seen
But then one day,
I heard him crying in my chimney
because he couldn’t
find his way home.

[photos] Photos by Michelle Doxey

Understand

Why?
I don’t understand.
You knew we would not
Understand completely
The pain in the Garden
and
The anguish on the Hill.
Yet, You did this all
For us;
Because Your love for us
Is greater than we
Will ever know.

[illustrations] Art by Leslie A. Harston

The Big House

Today I ran
from the busy street
across the wet lawn
to the large fountain
and the marble steps which I climbed
to grab the cold brass handle,
like I do every day,
banging open the large wooden door.
Then I stopped there in the front hall,
and I saw my wet footprints on the shiny marble floor,
so I backed away, slowly,
to the cold cement porch
in the corner by the gate
and I crawled up like a potato bug
and waited to be scolded.

Recipe

Take several sleeping fields,
One silken lake
And gently add a few
Shimmering hills.
Toss in a handful of fresh stars and
Cover with a quilted sky.
Then pour a generous amount of
Fresh-cream moonlight
Over mixture and
Let rise.

I’d Like to Say Something about November 27

Whipped icing
over trees,
a cake the size
of a hundred
ceremonies.

[photos] Photos by Aaron Sweet