Tag Archives: free verse

A Christmas Poem: Do Not Fear

Park View Mennonite Church, Harrisonburg VA.

“We live in fearsome times.” My father told me that when we uselessly practiced nuclear bomb drills by hiding under our school desks, when with trepidation I sat cross-legged on the floor in front of our black and white when JFK called the Russians’ bluff on Cuba, then when Dallas happened, and assassins shot Martin and Bobby, and cities burned, and a president resigned, and revolts occurred, and we always seemed to side with the bad guy, when we chided dictators for gassing people only to bomb the survivors in their mourning.

“We live in fearsome times.” My grandfather told me that when he silently remembered his own gassing in the war to end all wars and died at the age that I am now coughing and coughing and coughing because there were no records that he was poisoned 100 years ago on the western front.

“We live in fearsome times,” I tell my grandchildren in failed efforts to shield them from the constant volleys of lies and accusations and nonsense spewing forth into their innocent world by powerful people who lost their decency, compassion, and empathy long, long ago.

“Have no fear,” I reassure them to ears deafened by headsets and screen time. Still, I think they get it all, the nonsense, the truth-telling, and the untruth-telling. That is my hope in this season of hope. On this darkest day of the year, the winter solstice, there is enough oil now to keep the candles burning. But we have to keep pressing on like those Hanukkah days of old. We must pour new wine into new wineskins, not old. We don’t want to waste the wine by bursting.

We live in fearsome times. We must be patient in the season of waiting. We must choose clarity over certainty, though certainty it is that we too often choose, only to be disappointed, and blame circumstances and others for our wrong choices. Those in the Old and those in the New reported the same. Therefore, in this season of light, hope, peace, patience is the rule as “we live by faith, not by sight.”

Love Advent banner, Park View Mennonite Church, Harrisonburg VAWe live in fearsome times. This is the season of anticipation, joy, love, forgiveness, wonder, when blended, a recipe not to fear. We look for the brightest star to lead us forth, but stars are in heaven, not on earth. Behold the heavenly host is near. Do not fear.

We live in fearsome times. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, not on our terms, but Yours and Yours alone. Our fragility and our insecurity overcome our logic, excite our emotions precisely opposite of what the good tidings proclaim, why the angels yet rejoice. They know the true Ruler is the Lamb, not the lion.

We live in fearsome times. Humans always have, always will simply because we are human, unable or unwilling to listen, to hear, to comprehend the goodness, the freedom, the surety bestowed on us to bestow on others, especially during these dark days.

We live in fearsome times. What will we do? How can we go on? Awareness is enough.

“In the beginning was the word… The serpent was more crafty than any other… Everyone who thirsts… Sing aloud, O daughter Zion… Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah… In the sixth month… In those days a decree went out… In that region there were shepherds… And the Word became flesh… Fear not…” Hallelujah.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2018

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Filed under Christmas, family, history, holidays, human interest, news, poem, poetry, writing

The Grain Wagon

grain wagon, grain harvest

The Grain Wagon.

The Grain Wagon

The mid-morning summer sun brightly illuminated
the freshly harvested grain fields.
Alternating light and dark strips of stubble
recorded the back-and-forth path
the huge combine took to do its deed.
The culprit, however, had already left the scene.

The only hint of any harvest machinery
was the bright red grain wagon resting
quietly by a squatty silver grain silo
that glistened in the warm sunshine.
The bold wagon’s fire engine red mocked the
lush greens of the alfalfa and the shade trees.

The sun showed off the barn and family
of outbuildings with equal zest.
A herd of fluffy cumulus clouds
floated shadows that danced upon the distant
mountain slopes dappling dark splotches
across the forest canopy and fertile farm fields.
Exhausted from hauling its multitude of heavy loads,
the grain wagon took no notice.

July 12, 2017

© Bruce Stambaugh 2017

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Pi Day 2011

Golden sunset by Bruce Stambaugh

Tonight, just above the horizon
in the western sky
less than an hour after sunset,
planets Jupiter and Mercury
are only a piece of pie apart.

Bruce Stambaugh
March 14, 2011

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Four season survival

Woods edge by Bruce Stambaugh

Where field and forest meet.

From the tallest trees
of the interfacing woods,
the red-tailed hawk gleans
the pasture, grain and hay fields,
fallow, fertile, emerging, golden,
winter, spring, summer and fall.

Bruce Stambaugh
Feb. 6, 2011

Red-tailed Hawk by Bruce Stambaugh

A red-tailed hawk glides over a hayfield.

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Amish air conditioner

Queen Anne’s Lace bloom pinned
between black bonnet and golden hair,
light blue dress hiked to her knees,
the poised and carefree Amish girl pedaled
down the road, her two-wheeled air conditioning
the only practical escape from the oppressive heat.

Bruce Stambaugh
July 25, 2010

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Bad back

I wonder if there has ever been a poem
written about a bad back.
You know. The kind of chronic
back problem that causes enough
pain to prevent you from doing
the simplest of chores, like bending
over to pick up anything off the floor
or putting on your socks or pulling open
a sliding glass door, standard, everyday
stuff that we all take for granted.

Any of those movements or even
no movement for that matter causes
excruciating pain, the kind that is sharp,
stinging, unpredictably shooting down
your legs, first the left, numbing your
little toe while needles prickle your calf.
You adjust, then the right leg gets
the same treatment, and you adjust again,
walk like an old man, though you’re a long
way from collecting Social Security.

As I think further about it, anyone
with such severe pain likely couldn’t
sit long enough to write, print or type
such a poem. Logic would dictate that
such persistent pain would make him
delusional. Besides, even if he did,
the poor fellow would be considered too
wimpy, too self-engrossed, too brash
exuding too much self-pity to dare
write, much less publish such a ditty.

Has there ever been a poem
written about a bad back?
Probably not.

Bruce Stambaugh
March 24, 2010

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St. Patrick’s Day Sunset

Could there have been a more generous sunset,
and on St. Patrick’s Day yet?

The perfectly clear, but not empty sky
silhouetted the naked tree line at the top
of the neighbor’s pasture field.
To the right, three does grazed
unaware of my distant spying.

Above them, as if it mattered, Venus shown
bright and true, and still higher above her
the first sliver of March’s eventual full moon
cradled the amazing earthshine tenderly, boldly,
for all who cared to see to see.

I saw. I cared, glad for St. Paddy’s celestial gift.
I don’t know about the deer though.

Bruce Stambaugh
March 17, 2010

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