The Sound of A Hero Dying (Memorial Day poem)

[I wrote this after my Papa died seven years ago. It’s about his last few days on earth. He was a World War II veteran marine who fought in the battle of Iwo Jima]

Calloused hands that loved little dogs

and showed little boys how to hook a worm

Tremble now, involuntarily and soft

Armchair politician with a dagger wit

and humor more arid than the August Mojave

Forgets now, wets his own bed

Broad hard marine with a bulldog tattoo

and played keyboard for the church of st. waltz

Withered now, Hospice choir sings

First the grandson became nephew

the nephew a Japanese conspirator

The sponge was a razor

the nurse a war criminal

Escaped his cell block while sleeping

He always preferred the back door

No national day of mourning

No brash parade in his name

Just my hold it together sobs

The only sound left of another hero dying

Bryan Daniels

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Mrs. Irony and Her Children

Said the angry agnostic Mother of three to me:

“My children are not indoctrinated!”

Was her sanctimonious plea

“We treat them as humans, not subjects at all”

As she looked down her nose, she stood proud and tall

“We don’t raise them as a Baptist or a Catholic or a Jew

No, not as the close-minded fundamentalist would do;

We instill in them ‘green’ values, and the Herbivore diet,

and Nietzsche and nihilism, you really should try it!

They will defend abortion rights with an apologetic passion

and preach humanist dogma in an evangelical fashion”

So said the angry agnostic mother of three to me

“My children are not indoctrinated!”

Was her sanctimonious plea

Bryan Daniels

The Tree of Wrath-The Wedding Wine (Poem)

He drank full the cup of bitter wine

So I would drink at His table

To make this enemy a friend

To make this Cain an Abel

The blood of royalty spilled not

for one lonely ethnic nation

But for a tribe and tongue of many

Son felt Father’s separation

And when the victory cry rung out

For heav’n and earth to hear

Love won out for the bride alone

Cast to hell was earthly fear

The whole world may scoff and mock

at the foolishness of the tree

But there on that dark hill of wrath

God’s blood was poured for me

Great mystery of Father’s love and hate

All fell on Son of Man that day

Praise! He chose the belly of the beast

To purchase me a wedding feast!

 

Bryan Daniels

“Special Care For Boys”-Papa’s Poem

My Papa was a giant of a man to me. Not in a physical sense by any means; by the time I was in high school I probably had 7 inches and 60 pounds on him. He was large man in a more real sense, which measures a man’s presence in a room, his impressions on other people.

My grandfather, Sheldon Shepler, was a Marine during WWII. He had disturbing firsthand knowledge of Iwo Jima, and rarely shared what that “hell on earth” was like from the perspective of a teenage boy from Peoria, Illinois. After his short military career his main vocation was working for the prison system teaching inmates job skills for their re-entrance into society. He was an armchair politician and a consummate debater, a hobby he enjoyed deeply as the only liberal in our family. He was a proponent of tough love, scathing humor, and calling it like he saw it. The grandkids were usually both endeared and intimidated by him. Papa could be both a lighthearted jokester and grumpy old man in the same conversation. 

But that rusty old veneer had a soft spot or two.

He loved music. He taught himself the keyboard late in life and he was always the driving force behind impromptu family Christmas carol sessions. In the waning hospice days of his life, old-time hymns from Andy Griffith kept his finger whirling to the beat.

He loved animals. It’s not a stretch to say he preferred dogs over people. His two canine companions, Bucky and Nicky, were regulars at the breakfast table whether you liked it or not.

And apparently, he was also known to pen a poem or two. 

Some time after the death of my grandparents my mom found a typewritten poem on faded paper entitled, “Special Care For Boys.” The subject was likely in reference to my Uncle David. Having two sons of my own now this poem resonates with me. I especially see these unencumbered boyhood attributes in my nearly three-year old, Josiah:

Special Care For Boys

I’m sure there are special Angels on earth to care for little boys,

Perhaps Cherubim and Seraphim who love their ways and noise;

Who know the thrill and pleasure of sliding down roofs and trees,

The lure of bugs, frogs and worms and mad buzz of bottled bees;

I’m sure this special Angel will bring our cowboys through,

Keep cops and robbers from sad grief they manage to get into;

Yes, I’m sure these special watchers are included in God’s great plan,

If there were no special watchers no boy would grow to be a man.

Sheldon Shepler

Tallahassee (Alzheimer’s Valentine)

[I wrote this shortly after being the caretaker for my late grandmother for a year. It’s not meant to take a heavy subject (Alzheimer’s) lightly, rather it’s an observation of the strange effects this debilitating disease has on the mind (and family)]

This Inn is noisy but nice, the best part is it’s free; Watching Judge Mathis and World War reruns With mixed and strange company; Sure I’ll dance with that fella, only after I hide my purse; Cause they’ll take all my money my lipstick my ID my bearings my family or worse

I just want Tallahassee, show me the road to take

It’s not too far a walk from here, just another blank memory away

I- 10 and heartache can lead me I know

Point me east young friend, and I’ll recall where to go

My mother my daughter my grandson my brother

Whoever the heck you are

Take me back to the hills of my Tally

I know that it’s not very far

But really I must get back, my family is worried and sick; There is hair that needs cutting, shaggy dogs that need loving, Grab the Buick, they all need me quick; I miss the ‘ole white church next to Cobb The first time I got born again; I left a good group of fat goats and old hens And a hard lovin’, cussin’ Marine of a man

I just want Tallahassee, show me the road to take

It’s not too far a walk from here, just another blank memory away

I- 10 and heartache can lead me I know

Point me east young friend, and I’ll recall where to go

My mother my daughter my grandson my brother

Whoever the heck you are

Take me back to the hills of my Tally

I know that it’s not very far

I remember the old colored widow, with fresh pecan pie on the sill; Left for some poor white school kids,  said more than King ever will; Sir, Just Get Wilbur on the phone…Azalea trails will lead me home…

Bryan Daniels

Mrs. Irony and Her Children

Said the angry agnostic Mother of three to me:

“My children are not brainwashed!”

Was her sanctimonious plea

“We treat them as humans, not subjects at all”

As she looked down her nose, she stood proud and tall

“We don’t raise them as a Baptist or a Catholic or a Jew

No, not as the close-minded fundamentalist would do;

We teach them ‘green’ virtues, and the Herbivore diet,

and Nietzsche and nihilism, you really should try it!

They will defend sexual freedom with an apologetic passion

and preach Marxist dogma in an evangelical fashion”

So said the angry agnostic mother of three to me

“My children are not brainwashed!”

Was her sanctimonious plea

Bryan Daniels