Posts Tagged ‘encouragement’

The Lady is at Work

June 4, 2016


She heard America singing;

through two centuries’ labors they came a-ringing–

the song and the opus of bringing

a newborn project in a newfound world

‘neath a loud stripey flag ‘t’was unfurled.

From ship to wagon to cart to railroads,

sending out them precious mother-lode payloads

over seas and lands and bridges and field rows–

he hauled ’em in, she bailed ’em out

through highways and byways they sent forth the shout.

Up with the work! and down with the grit

she dug and he hammered; she welded; he shipped it.

Turn up the earth, mine and weld and wield it ’til it fit–

a new land, a new time, new way of doin’

rolling on wheels where used to be horsehoin’.

They rolled up on the far edge of our vast continent,

on the heels of a gold rush at the shore of containment.

Along came the Okies, then Hollywood raiment–

not bein’ done yet, we slid into Silicon valley,

so much bigger and brighter than the old yankee alley.

Now what’s up with that and where do we go from here–

let bruthas and sistahs step to the music we hear

enduring the pain, dodging the rain, overcoming the fear,

we gotta discover what to do to pick up the slack

so we do not regress, do not turn back.

Maybe we will and maybe we will not–

forge a way past our lethargy, this entitlement and rot

what it is we got to do I know not what,

might have to grab that destiny from some ogre or grinch.

Let’s get this ship turnin’–hand me that wrench!

Glass half-Full


Life way down deep

April 3, 2015

The life was new.

The life was hidden, withdrawn, but stirring beneath the surface

of man, restless

feeling incomplete, as if he were only half

of something and where pray tell is

the other half.

Oh but the life

the whippersnappin’ life was young and foolish, darting out in

spurts, random, irresponsibly.


The life was at a loss.


the wise was keeping vigil, watching protectively, counseling gently

in the stirring of the wind:

Wait. Focus. Control yourself. Learn. Prepare. Use what you’ve got.


Not abuse.


Not shove.


Not thrust.


Don’t throw it on the ground;

don’t cast it out when you’re in town.

Find a place that’s safe and sound

and slightly round.

There is a place for you if you will seek, if you will

wait upon her, ‘though mishaps there may be,

‘though dark days you will see.

Destiny, providentially so-to-speak, whispers

in those dark hours of the night,

but also in the clarity of the bright light

and in the very horned beastly midst of your fight

for peace of mind, and fulfillment,

self-actualization, what we use to call


Project not yourself into any old hole; cast not your pearl

to front,  nor to rear.

You, my precious life, are too dear

to sputter in the rear.

Oh, wipe away your tear.

Train your sorrow to flow;

direct your milky force to go

into something worthwhile, like . . .

work. I don’t know. Think about it.

Don’t jerk.

Don’t be a jerk,

and please don’t twerk. But rather,

Wait. Watch. Focus. Learn. Prepare. Believe. Use what you’re given.

Be just a little driven

but not obnoxiously so.

Just go

and do the best you can,

and when she comes, your half will become


Like I said, in not just any hole.


For the sake of your soul,

and the soul of them who are to come

when you are done.


Glass half-Full

Ev’body need a mama, justice, and a little encouragement now and then

March 9, 2010

“Good for you,” said Diane Rehm to her guest.

This encouragement she interjected as author Helen Simonson was recalling a decision that she and her husband had made years ago. Helen, the busy advertising executive, would interrupt her career and stay home to nurture their newborn child.

Helen, author of  the novel Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, had understood that it was time to make a change—that the demands of helpless baby upon her new motherhood would create a full-time job for her, and a new role in life.

“What were we thinking?” she remembered, as if they suddenly realized the importance of motherhood. Her husband, busy bank executive who never got home ‘til after 8 pm, and she, busy advertising executive who never got home ‘til after 8, had planned for her to take a brief absence to have the baby. But then they decided that Helen would just be a mother for a long while.

And Diane said, “Good for you.”

These words encouraged me. My wife had chosen full-time motherhood years ago before launching her career as a nurse. We have never regretted that decision.

I heard this exchange as part of an interview on Diane Rehm’s show on NPR today, March 8.

A few hours later, I heard another gem of encouragement:

“…we’re go’nna make it…” Dr. Martin Luther King had said.

He had been speaking to (now Congressman) John Lewis as they sat in a home near Selma in 1965 during the events that surrounded Bloody Sunday and the civil rights march from Selma to Birmingham, Alabama. As  they listened expectantly to a televised announcement from Washington, President Lyndon Johnson had said:

“…and we shall, we shall overcome.”

And Dr. King had spoken his thoughts, “we’re gonna make it.” “John, we’re go’nna make it to Montgomery, and the voting acts will be passed.”

I heard this recollection on the radio from John Lewis as he recalled the events in an interview with Neil Conan on Talk of the Nation, NPR, today, March 8th.

Such a day was this  for profound utterances! An hour later I heard this:

“Andrew, keep your pants rolled up,” which was an exhortation shouted by a mother to her son from an open window. The 10-year-old son was playing an impromptu baseball game in an open area on this, the first warm day of 2010.

“Don’t sit on the ground,” shouted mama a few minutes later from her vigilant window parch. Because there was, you know, still snow on the ground.  These kids were playing baseball in patchy snow. Such is the power of imminent springtime to provoke pickup baseball.

“Go, go, go!” said his teammate to Andrew, as he knocked a grounder that stopped cold in the infield snow.

Like I said before,  ev’body need a mama, justice, and a little encouragement now and then.