Selected Photos, Art, and Poetry: Inspirational Insights

by William H. Powley

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    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