Monday, September 17, 2007

a poem from my daddy

I am posting a poem from my dad that he posted on his website... this is not my official prayer-poem submission, but I thought it was beautiful. My dad is 75, a active writer, retired journalist/educator, and all round lovely person. I am going to write my prayer about him. His name is Claude. He's the Texan in me.

Life is something you have to live before you
understand that it's not about you.
It's about little old ladies with irritating dogs
that bark in the dark of night when you're trying to
It's about someone towing your van off and junking it
while you're in the hospital.
It's about sons who come home and run errands because
you can't, one a lawyer, the other a poet, with another
son standing by.
It's about memories of children playing in a yard and
laughing and one or more of them belongs to you and
memories of this alongside a picture of them now, then
looking at yourself in a mirror and wondering who in
the hell that is!
It's about eggs benedict, refrito frijoles, barbeque,
and chickenfried steak and a quiet afternoon on a
cruise with the ocean a cobalt blue and the air good
in your lungs.
It's about old movies and songs you've loved much too
long, favorite books read once again, a phone call
from an old friend.
It's about homeless people you pretend not to see and
higher gasoline prices and wishing you were somewhere
else that you used to be.
And tears you've shed because of these and the women
you've loved and might have loved if you'd known them
and they had known you.
Life is these strange things and more.

From the dawn of day until dusk drifts away and we sit
silent watching lightning play in a distant sky, all
wonders by, just you and I, Good Lord.

I have been grateful for these hours gone. Indeed, I
enjoyed all but the days I was ill and I find no fault
with you, Good Lord, for those. They were mere
lessons I had to learn that lightning in a distant sky
would have meaning.

And so I could learn a better love for my fellow human
being not only with meaning but understanding about
the totality of love, love is more than mere affection,
it's also appreciation.

Most, though, I have treasured - and treasured all -
the good times!
Standing on a cliff, looking back at Port Soller,
glad for the astonishing beauty and glad that I was
there as I have been other places beautiful beyond
belief and realized even then they came because of
you, Good Lord. Brazil, Mt. Fuji, Grenada, the
California Coast, the sequoias, Ft. Bragg, the view of
lower Manhattan from the Staten Island Ferry, Watkins
Glen. Ah, if I could name all, as well as the places I
do not remember at all. I thank you for these.
Seeing my children as tiny as a handful, marveling
that they were me and my father Johnny Jefferson Hall
and his father William Benjamin and John Abner before
him and Halls and Smiths and Gillmores, and
Williamsons and Woods and others back to almost the
Mayflower. French, Scot, Brit, and a vast mixture
hither and yon because they boated up and down the
Mississippi and the Old River did that sort of thing
to you in olden days.
Meeting wonderful people along the years, some
becoming good friends and great friends, while others,
basking by, shed a marvelous light that gave me a path
to follow and, thus, showed me the way. I cannot name
all these for fear of offending those many I might
forget. But those I treasured most: Jack Thayer,
George Wilson, L. David Moorhead, Bill Stewart, Chuck
Blore, Gary Owens, Don Imus, Jim Gabbert, Lou Dorren,
Bobby Vee, Raul Cardenas, Ernie Farrell, Paul
Ackerman, Joey Reynolds, Saul Kramer, Jay Blackburn,
Mike Gross, Don Graham, Dave Dexter, Bruce Miller
Earle, Bill Mason, Jonathan Fricke.

It's strange that people and places have meant so much
to me. For I have done little else of value, I
suppose, than the knowing of people. I leave behind
no pyramid, no work of art worth a glance, no statue
of me or by me.

What good am I or have I been? I, sadly, failed to
change the world and make it better. Was this for
lack of guts, lack of desire, lack of chance?

A crime would be that I did not try. Please, Good
Lord, do not find me guilty of this! My heart, I
swear, was always in the right place. But was the
rest of me? For I have indeed walked past the kettle
at Christmas, drove by the man with the sign on the
street corner, passed the car on the roadside with the
flat. Mostly because at those particular times, I,
too, needed help or thought I needed help. Who among
us has not shed crocodile tears for ourselves long
before others?

Here at 75, virtually on the edge of time's cliff, I
often wonder if the life I've lived justified what I
am and what I've been compared to what I wanted to be.
Was it all worthwhile?

I could have lived another life, I suppose. Made
different choices, played with rockets and not with
words, or gone to Spain in the steps of Hemingway as I
planned to do until that day I kissed one of Park
Avenue's most beautiful creatures in the rooftop
garden at 30 Rock.

These, however, were not the ways I went. But, all in
all, my life was well spent and if I pause now and
then to think of days that might have been way back
when, I guess I'd rather go the way I did once again.

For I've lived life on more than whim and though I've
lost and lost a lot from time to time, now and then by
the grace of you, Good Lord, I win.
"A Life Lived" - c. hall, Aug. 28, 2007

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