Horatian Ode* to the Horseman
Horatian Ode* to the Horseman
Son of the Legend?
7/’96 read at Grandmother McCarty’s funeral 9/11/’96
As old hands struggle to remember,
Young ones try not to forget
While bustin’ brush to cut their trails,
They ponder horseback- jet to jet.
The values of a generation
Past live on past lives ahead.
Philosophies live longer than
The personalities now dead.
For “As a man thinks…”in his heart
The man will prove indeed to be;
His children will reflect his ways.
His wisdom walking all will see.
If flow’rs of grass bloom in his heart,
His offspring soon will bear the seeds
That love the land, the horse, the cow
On through the howl of corporate greed.
Taught that a man can stand up straight,
Talk plain and look you in the eye,
To seal a deal with a bare handshake;
His word’s still good when times are dry.
To judge a horse, look at his feet,
The value of a cow- her teeth,
Best land is shown wrap’d in a drought,
A man’s word shows the man beneath.
From timberline to desert floor,
From Quakie cold to Cholla heat,
The buckaroo to cowboy band
All seem to march with same heartbeat
In leather proven, hidden mettle
Buried ‘neath a wooden cross,
They tamed a land, became a legend.
Children mourn’d, then fill’d the loss.
Yet, what was needed to obtain
Will be required to preserve.
The land cares for the character
That cares for land as it deserves.
So, in the nightwind’s harshest seasons
Hear the land’s soft, whisper’d question:
Is there a son of the legend?
Does their wisdom ride again?
It was a long time ago. But I can still remember.
My parents and brother were gone from home. Watching the house and the dog, I must have been 20 something years old when the NEWS crushed my world and called my whole existence into question.
Earlier that year, my family had been shocked by the murder of my cousin’s baby girl. She was not even one year old, found outside of the house, and drowned in a ditch.
Babies like that don’t get up and walk outside while her parents are taking an 8 minute stroll, walking the dog together. It should have been perfectly safe for 8 minutes alone in her perfectly safe crib inside her perfectly safe house. Instead, someone came in, took her outside, dropped her in a ditch, and left her to die.
It had shocked our family.
Shortly after the girl had died, Jack helped me find a way to understand that perhaps her story on earth was fulfilled. Perhaps there were things God saw in her future we could not yet see, but God thought it better for her to come Home to Him. She would rest in His peace.
The biggest shock came a few weeks later. I was alone at the house when I heard the news. The woman who was supposedly responsible for the murder of my cousin’s baby was being set free by
the Justice Department because of lack of evidence. She was known to be ‘confused’ and there was a pretty clear vision of what had happened that night, but not all of it could be proven. So she was set free.
Hearing that news sent my head spinning and my heart crying out!
HOW?! How could this be? How could this young life end and this woman not pay for it? What kind of justice is that? What kind of
God would let someone get away with something as unforgivable as this!!?
My anger demanded some kind of punishment, some kind of justice, some kind of sign that God was Watching this! and Judging! DOING something!!!
To hear of this woman being set free, was just one shock too many for my fragile faith. This was not the God I had believed in for so long as a child. Not the righteous, just, and honest God who punishes the wrong and loves the right. If HE could not do something about this, who could?
I felt the ground fall from beneath me. I was lost! It felt as if God had abandoned me. If He were not around, then what had I been believing in?
Perhaps my parents and brother were right after all, and it was all just stories that they told children in school. To my family, it was a mystery how I had kept believing in the stories from the Bible I heard in school. They did not believe there was a God, and I was feeling like my certainty, my childlike trust in this God I had heard about, may have been a mistake indeed!
I needed not call my family to talk about this. They would have answered “God is not real.” But I was not ready to accept that kind of an answer.
That evening, I had to show up for duty at the local radio station. I was to be technical assistance for a few program makers and then spent the last 2 hours playing non-stop music until the airtime was over.
I rode my bike over to the studio and tried my best to get through the first two hours without too much talking.
The second program maker left the studio, the board meeting had finished up early as well, and the station manager dropped by the studio to let me know that I would be the one to close up the studio for the night. I closed the door behind them, making sure I would not be surprised by anyone coming in that had no business being there.
And started playing songs. Just random stuff I pulled out of the cd boxes next to me. And while I did, I could feel my questions just keep on whirling around in my head.
WHY?!! Why would she be allowed to walk free when my cousin and his family would have to live the rest of their lives with this loss?
While closing up, wandering about in that old house built in 1875,that we used for a studio, I found myself crying.
Angry tears. And then whispering. Angry whispers. Talking. Urgently talking. Shouting. Screaming. Yelling. Angry words. Angry questions. Questioning God out loud. Telling Him how angry I was, how unjust He had been. How much He had let me down! How furious I was!
And then, after a while… how sad I was, how confused and afraid I was, how lost I felt, thinking about a world without Him. But also how difficult it was for me to still believe that He was still true, still around… if He would let stuff like this happen.
Ain’t it funny, how you can tell whether someone is listening or not? How you can tell the difference between someone listening to you or reading the newspaper, while hidden behind that newspaper…?
Alone, in the last room that was still lit, I sat down on the floor and realized that He had been listening. All the time. To my yelling. To my whispering, my shouting, my screaming, my questions, my doubt and my fear.
And that it was all right. But it was not. NOT enough. It was NOT alright! My stubborn mind needed proof! Because I had believed Him there before hadn’t I? In spite of what my family said, I had believed God was there!
And yet, He could not be. Because why would He let this woman walk free. How COULD He?!?
So if there really was a plan for this, if He really had this covered, and most of all, if He wanted me to believe that He was real, He was going to have to show me. And I told Him, it had to be rather obvious, because I was really not gonna go ahead and fall for “just anything” this time.
I sat there and waited, but nothing happened. Nothing. Well, beside the clock ticking on and the building getting colder from the heater being automatically turned off…
So I got up and finished the closing up. Numb and sore from my outbursts, I put on the alarm after cleaning up the last dishes, and locked the door. I turned around on the steps to the front door, to walk to my bike. The same steps I had stood on, so many nights before this one, doing the exact same thing.
And this time, I looked up and saw it. A HUGE star. Glittering like a diamond, almost as if saying
And all the way home on my bike, that big glittering star was shining ahead of me. It seemed to be there every turn I made, every corner I took. Staring me right in the eye. Right until I arrived home.
My sign from God that He is here. Everywhere. If I care to look.
I felt peace knowing that He would listen to me, and even answer my cry, however futile I may be in this huge world. That I mattered enough to Him to have that star shine brightly for me.
Now that I had proof, I had 2 choices. I could go insane trying to hold on to my control, my ideas of what justice is and what should happen.
Or I could give it up. Give up trying to understand what His reasons might be. Surrender my need to know, my need to understand, and trust in Him. No longer question Him, or His presence.
And that is what I did. I surrendered to Him. I didn’t have to understand anymore. I just had to believe. Trust. And surrender.
Sounds so simple, don’t it? It does when I write it down now. But that was only the first time I have surrendered to God. Because control is hard to give up. My need to understand is strong. I am proud enough to think I know a lot and curious enough to want to learn more. But to give up that pride, that need to know, need to understand… is one of the things that I have had to keep on doing on a conscious level or I would slip right back in to my questioning.
One thing I have not questioned like this anymore, ever, is whether God is real or not. Since that day, I have been sure of it. I have been talking to Him, although I hardly ever visit a church, although my family still has no idea why I am so certain of God. He has been there on so many occasions, if only I put my ego aside and care to listen to what He wants from me. Through relationship trouble, addictions, re-organizations at work, and depression, I have seen Him there. I have felt His Hand on my back, felt His Arms around me, felt Him listening, guiding me.
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another Italian sonnet
A Seasonal Sonnet
“It came to pass…” eternal Scriptures read.
Once mist-air-dust, then mud with breath combined
Becomes a form that now can feel and bleed
To dust a trail that choices leave behind.
The frozen branch that’s leaf-forsaken, still,
Though dormant through obstinate seasons, waits
With life protected, hidden in the Root,
And beauty sleeping, quiet ‘neath the chill
In hope, will bud again on springtime dates
To be rewarded with a harvest fruit,
That is the Seed where life is introduced
With love and song and laughter to be loosed.
A fruitfulness in winter is absurd,
So faithfulness near death is then preferred.
December 15, 1998
What specters in the cedar’d shadows hide?
Is it the risk a man would stub his toe,
Or haunting by the horse he could not ride?
Why does a man avoid the moonlight so?
A long-lost loved-one’s face in rocks appear
As horn’d owl questions-coyote moans reply
With Annie Laurie’s whisper in his ear,
The disappointment’s in the night-wind’s sigh.
His roots, fed by ancestral dream-fill’d sails,
Attack’d by fears and failures, friends and foes,
While mind’s eye fills in blanks where vision fails
‘Til tidal dawn will heal the moonstruck blows.
A full moon spotlights man’s fascination
And monsters in his imagination.