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Ron Henry

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by Ron Henry
Saturday, January 29, 2005
Rated "G" by the Author.
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Recent poems by Ron Henry
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           >> View all 20

Some Tennessee whittlers learn there is hope in God's hell.


Here we sit in old men’s bodies
Whittling with our knives
Complaining of the wrongs we’ve seen
And missing our dead wives.

Every day at nine o’clock
The group of us meets here.
Each shaves a foot-long hickory stick
Into the point of a spear.

Athough we think we meet this way
For society and cheer
In truth we vent our sadness
At the evils of the years.

So while our hands are busy
And lathe the hardened wood
We talk about our young men
Who aren’t doing what they should.

We complain about corruption
And avarice and greed
And bring to mind a better time
Of great and noble deeds.

We remember how we once were
And the things we used to dream.
Then we look at the people now
And it makes us want to scream!

But who are we? Just old men.
Whatever can we do,
But sit here with our whittling knives
And fret and boil and stew?

For the days when we had a voice
Have long since passed us by.
We sit while young men shout at us
And wait for us to die.

But then a voice comes through to me
Loud and clear and true
“Don’t sit there acting helpless!
There is plenty you can do.

I don’t mean senseless busywork
To make you feel good.
To keep you out of trouble
And elevate your mood.

I’m talking about real work
Without which Earth may blow.
It is the work of the spirit,
The hardest work I know.

You may have wielded hammers
And lifted heavy blocks
Or worked from dawn to dusk
In the fields or on the docks.

But this is the real work
You trained for all your life
To mold the future towards wisdom
And end this wicked strife.

And though you may be thinking
Your best days are at an end
Your life has only just begun
On you the future depends.

For you have lived through trials
And struggled and grasped and learned
Things young men don’t fathom
And won’t unless you’re stern:

To stand against their evil
And make them tow the line.
Make them know and realize
Their arrogance isn’t fine.

“But how,” you ask, “can this be done?
Though I get down on my knees
They’d pretend to revere me.
While they do as they damn please.

“And I’m not one to beg and cower
Before these haughty men.
I’d sooner die a thousand deaths
Than bow before their ken.”

Once again the voice was clear
This wasn’t what He meant.
“These men don’t need catered to.
These men need to be SENT!”

“What do You mean?” I asked in awe.
“What is Your intent?
What place do these men need to go?
Where should they be sent?

“To Hell” God said in certain tones
“But not the Devil’s realm.
But to My place of punishment
Where I am at the helm.

“For I am not a stupid God
As darkness likes to say
Who punishes souls needlessly
Forever and a day.

“Or damns a soul eternally
For trying hard to search,
Or threatens all who doubt the Word
Or dare to question the church.

“But like a goodly parent
My punishments are wise
Nothing like the horrors
That darkness would devise.

“For I would never ever wish
For a soul to burn
Who has shown himself to be ready,
And willingly able to learn.

“For what would ever be the point
Of such insanity?
A hell that doesn’t do its job
To help people get free?

“No, My hell is for the freedom
Of the people here
From the twists of darkness
That bind their lives in fear.

“And those who dare to go there
Will find welcome relief
From pressures in this evil world
That cause them so much grief.

“But,” I said, “Hell’s for the dead.
At least that’s what I’m told.
The men who do the damage here
Are young and strong and bold.

It will be many years
Before they see Hell’s gate
And likely by that time
It will be too late.”

God answered strong, “Son, you are wrong!
That’s the Devils line.
Hell’s My tool for here and now
Not for another time.

While the body can only be
In a single space
The spirit can travel far and wide
And go from place to place.

When parts of you learn in Hell
Others run your clay,
For the spirit isn’t bound to Earth
In the usual way.

A spirit has many portions
And is made to learn,
And with the clay we have on Earth
Each one takes its turn.

So while a part of you’s in Hell
Facing where it’s wrong
Another part stays with you
Helping you be strong.

So do not fear to send to Hell
Anyone you know
It can only make him better
And help each one to grow.

Hell is a tool I made for life
To keep it straight and true
Without it Earth will fall apart.
It will be the end of you.

For the spirit that runs all life
Cannot learn and thrive
Without the standards Hell provides
To keep it true and alive.

So you who sit upon this bench
And whittle day by day
Who’ve seen the people slip and slide
From a better way,

Don’t sit and fret. Stand up and fight.
You’re the ones who know
How far we have strayed from wisdom
And how far we have to go.

Don’t hold back! Send one and all
So evil cannot hide
It will take work like this
If we hope to turn the tide.

And who can say when day is done
Whether Earth will live or die?
But if Earth dies let it not be said
It was because we didn’t try.

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Reviewed by Judy Lloyd (Reader) 1/29/2005
Maturity is a very interesting poem.

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