‘Til Death Us Do Part

If as mere friends our lives had parted ways,
Perhaps years later I might come to hear
That she had died, my friend of bygone days
Had died, and I, perhaps, would shed a tear.
But since God chose our separate threads to braid,
If you should die before me then my part
Will be the deepest pain — a sorrow made
As day by day I gave to you my heart
In hours and hours of talk and work and prayer,
In sickness and in health, and sometimes lost
On winding roads but with you always there.
Yet will love’s parting prove too high a cost?
I choose to brave its pain, gladly I do
As year by year I fall in love with you.



The years of the right hand of the Most High

I will remember the years of the right hand of the most High.
I will remember the works of the LORD: surely I will remember thy wonders of old. (Psalm 77:10-11)

This is a lyric I wrote inspired by Psalm 77 verses 10-20. I composed it to fit the tune of the famous song ‘Brigante Se More’ by Eugenio Bennato and Carlo D’Angiò

I will remember the works of the LORD

I will remember His wonders of old
Meditate also and talk of His doings
Sing of the years of the right hand of God.

Who is so mighty a God as our God?
Who with his right arm redeemed us of old,
Sent the sea rolling in fear and confusion
Back in the years of the right hand of God?

Sing how His clouds poured their waters on high,
Sing how His thunder song rolled through the sky
Sing of His arrows the wicked pursuing
Sing of the years of the right hand of God.

He made the voice of His thunder be heard
He made His lightening to lighten the world
Earth shook and trembled His majesty viewing,
Shook in the years of the right hand of God.

Deep in the sea is the way of the LORD
Deep in the ocean His footsteps of old;
Pathways untraceable past human knowing
Were shown in the years of the right hand of God.

You led your people, the sheep of your flock,
Led them along in the way they should walk
Gave to them shepherds in Moses and Aaron
Led them along by your right hand, O God.

My lyric has the same number of verses as this lyric but the last verse is sung three times in this recording.

Upon Reading a Wonderful Old Poem  (And being preemptively outraged with what I suspect the critics might dare to say about it)

A poem I discovered yesterday
That truly spoke of beauty and its pain.
Of it I don’t care what the critics say
Who as aesthetic scientists explain
Which couplets have ‘too passionate’ a strain.

But even if the heathen critics laugh,
That letter from my sister in the past
With words as coloured glass of fine-cut craft,
Has come to harbour, ‘cross time’s ocean vast
In me — for she to them did not the pearl cast.


Star Trees

And looking up at night it seemed the trees
Held in profusion shimmering silver fruit
Which, climbing up, some child could pluck with ease
And by handfuls twinkling on the black ground strew it.

Cold flaming silver birches then might grow,
And glow like candles lit by tenebrous monks,
And light the lost who stumble as they go
All lantern-less among dark leaves and trunks.


A Petrarchan Sonnet

I don’t have any poetry tonight —
To see things truly seems a pain too great, 

For every shadow bears time’s dying weight,
And swiftly speeds the beauty in the light.

Her life once seemed to me a canvas white,
My father, though, saw lines pre-marked like fate
And warned her as we parted at the gate,
Yet I said nothing when she took her flight.

Time is a deep uncrossable, too steep
A pass for any traveller to mount.
But now, tonight and in this very room
I hear her children sleeping through the gloom
And know they too will go. Would one word count
That I could say – to guide, to help, to keep?

~ Watchful



Chapman Landing by Canoe

All at once, all was still.
The water smooth, reflecting
Silky rolled beneath my paddle
As we came to Chapman landing.

Tall cottonwoods upon the right hand
Shone in sunlight and in the stream —
Upward downward from the island,
Leaves rippling softly as in a dream.

The pilings stood eerie and still
Where they used to unload the lumber —
Brought down from dark Vernonian hills —
With long gone noise, hardly remembered.

We turned to one another and spoke
‘Did you suddenly feel what I feel here?’
(Echoing across the water words woke
The dark and pitchy timber piers)

‘Here I feel a deep, dark cool 
Meet a warm soft sun in a magic pool,
And the summer evening softly breath
Where the landing lies by the island trees.’

Rally ‘Round the Flag

On our way to California in the year of ’63
Through Nevada’s barren land rode Mom and Pop, the girls and me –
Where the dry ground stretched before us, like an endless frying pan
And the alkali filled water wasn’t fit for beast or man.

On our wagon Pop had hoisted the old red white and blue
And those colours looked most beauteous up against the barren view.
In the shimmering heat one morning far ahead we saw a town,
Just a little mining outpost in the desert bare and brown.

As we neared the town a rider, young and fancy in his dress,
Came up to our little wagon and these words to Pop addressed
“Take a fool’s advice now mister,” and he eyed our Union flag,
“We don’t tolerate your breed here, best pull down that old dish rag.”

Pop just sat there for a minute, turkey duster cross his knee,
Then he grabbed the flag and raised it up so all the town could see-
Saying “If any man is yearning now to die for dixie land
Let him touch our country’s colours with his dirty rebel hands.”

Then Pop I guess he reckoned it was time to let her rip,
So it’s “Gee-up” tired oxen, and he cracked his black snake whip.
And we rumbled down the main street, while the townsfolk stood and glared
But something in Pop’s manner kept them all a little scared.

And I peered out from the wagon, where the streets with folks were lined
And I softly started singing the first song that came to mind-

“We will welcome to our numbers the loyal, true and brave,
Shouting the battle cry of freedom!
And although he may be poor, he shall never be a slave,
Shouting the battle cry of freedom!”

Then all the family joined me as we rattled through the town
Shouting the battle cry of freedom!
And it cheered our hearts to hear it a-thundering all around
Shouting the battle cry of freedom!

The Union forever! Hurrah, boys, hurrah!
Down with the traitors, up with the stars;
While we rally round the flag, boys, we rally once again,
Shouting the battle cry of freedom!

Ruby Hill Nevada-1878