Out of the Fog: Ode to the C.S.S. Alabama

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On June 19, 1864,  commerce raider, the Confederate States Ship (CSS) Alabama was sunk off the coast of Cherbourg, France. She had an illustrious career of effectively badgering and frustrating the Union navy for several years. Her short history mirrors the fight of the Confederate States’ quest for independence.

**Don’t have time to read? Click on the audio above to listen to the author read this poem.**

 

Out of the fog, thick as night

Guns are readied for a fight

Prey caught in helpless flight

Crossing sea foam capped with white

The C.S.S. Alabama

 
On her prey she does bear down

Seeking silver, gold and crown

Across the vessel a warning sound

Onward comes the Southern hound

The C.S.S. Alabama

 
Do they run or do they stay?

Do they die or bounties pay?

Perchance to live another day?

Quickly! Death cometh wearing gray

The C.S.S. Alabama

 
Pockets are lighter, but lives are saved

Death and burning have been staved

Only loot and pillage craved

Bounty counted while Dixie’s waved

The C.S.S. Alabama

 
Ah, Confederate prize yet again

Paid to Semmes and his men

Will terror of the sea ever end?

Sweet victory sails into the wind

The C.S.S. Alabama

 
Why this commerce raider? Tell, what for?

She’s a Mavor pirate, no less no more.

Feeding rebellious chests of war

A lustrous guardian of hell’s double door.

The C.S.S. Alabama

 
She was like the South, fast and furious,

The cause she hailed a little spurious.

Many a merchant Yankee left furious.

Less drawn to battle, more to luxurious.

The C.S.S. Alabama

 
Too little in skill, too much in fame,

Preying on unarmed and the lame,

Yankee cursing at sound of her name,

Men un-battle tested when it came.

The C.S.S. Alabama

 
One day off the coast of Cherbourg, France,

Accepting the invitation to the dance.

With a little skill, lots of hope in chance.

She came with great pomp and circumstance.

The C.S.S. Alabama

 
From Kerrsage broadsides cannon roared

Hot lead through Rebel mainsail soared

Sweet Union victory at last was scored

Damage final, complete, they’ll not board

The C.S.S. Alabama.

 
Mourn the end of this marauder,

This profitable Southern daughter,

The Gray Ghost, now lying underwater.

Should we sing her praises, shall we laud her?

The C.S.S. Alabama

 
Eight gongs were sounded on the bell,

The South’s great tide also, losing swell.

A yet oncoming quiet of Rebel yell.

A great symbol of cause remember well.

The C.S.S. Alabama.

Forgive Me – A Memorial Poem

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Forgive Me – A Memorial Poem

by T.J. Allen

In honor of those who sacrificed to defend our country and the ideals of freedom. On this Memorial Day; remember the fallen.

Forgive me if I do not stand up,
When they pray in somber dress and suits.
When I show no emotion at playing of taps,
Or any kind of gun salutes.

Forgive me of little move to comfort
As loved ones grieve at their loss.
Excuse the absence of tears unshed,
Though, I, all too well have felt the cost.

I understand the principled honor.
I understand the stubborn pride.
I understand the pushing forward,
When fear pushes hard inside.

I understand the courage shown
To help one’s comrades in need.
I understand the sacrifice given
I have watched our heroes bleed.

So, forgive me if I do not stand up,
When men of God shall pray.
I lie still in homage to the warrior
On whose casket I now lay.

With white gloves, I am folded,
A triangled memorial to a fallen one.
In a case or on a mantel sitting still,
Remember my daughter or my son.

Who loved honor more than life,
To protect, guard, and defend.
Forever in our hearts now cherished;
May their memory never end.

So when you see me flying high,
Over schools, banks, or capitol steps;
Remember the brave ones departed,
And the tears of the broken hearted wept.

Remember the brave living ones yet,
Whose lives are on the line for you.
Brave in the field and those at home.
Embodied, in the red, white, and blue.

The Raven Revisited

Gold featherI have always been an avid reader and have always liked the work of Edgar Allen Poe. I was reading his famous “The Raven” some time back and thought about how dark it was. Yes, I know he was lamenting his loss of Lenore, but it was so bleak. So, I rewrote it from a Christian perspective.  Here it below: “The Raven Revisited.”

Once upon my life so dreary, while I wondered weak and weary,
Over many a squandered chance of lost opportunity yore,
While I staggered, strength sapping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my cold heart’s door.
`’Tis some mournful feeling,’ I muttered, `tapping at my cold heart’s door –
Only this, and nothing more.’

Ah, distinctly I remember it was my soul’s dark December,
And my depression a dark amber wrought its light upon the floor.
Eagerly searched I relief of sorrow; – loneliness like wasteland yarrow.
From my deeds, smoke of a claro – sorrow for a life abhorred –
For the rare and radiant prospect whom the angels all once adored –
Useless here for evermore.

Downtrodden my spirit hurtin’ dark as the color of rare aged burton
Thrilled me – filled me with final feelings never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
`’Tis some specter entreating entrance at my cold heart’s door –
Some unknown specter seeking entrance at my cold heart’s door; –
This it is, and nothing more,’

Presently my soul grew weaker; straining at the voice of the speaker,
`Sir,’ said He, “You must seek forgiveness for sins performed before;
But the fact is you were napping, when the Spirit came a rapping,
And so kindly He came tapping, tapping at your heart’s door,
Oh, great Spirit kind I hear you’ – here I opened wide the door; –
Brilliantness there, and so much more.

Deep into that brightness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams I, mortal never dared to dream before;
But the silence now was broken, and the radiance of love awoken,
And the glorious word there spoken was the wonderful word, `Adore!’
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, `Adore!’
“Intensely love” and so much more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me yearning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
`Surely,’ said I, `surely fact is my lonely life has so lacked this;
Let me see then, what practice, and this mystery explore –
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; –
‘Tis the Spirit and so much more!’

Open here I flung my moral sense, with examination to recompense,
In my soul stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore.
With all Godly obeisance made he; resident stopped and stayed he;
All, with mien of the Lord prayed he, entered he into my heart’s door –
Entered he a heart so callous just inside my warm heart’s door –
Entered and resident forevermore.

Then this golden bird compiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the splendid and fine decorum of the countenance it wore,
`Though thy crest be grand engraven, thou,’ I said, `thou art sure a haven.
Stately and ancient raven directly from the bright morning shore –
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Day’s Heavenly shore!’
Quoth the raven, `Forevermore.’

Much I marveled this splendid fowl to hear discourse so candid,
Though its answer commanded – great relevancy bore;
For I could not help agreeing that any forlorn human being
Is set free by just receiving the Spirit within his heart so sore –
Freedom explodes within the accepting weary heart so sore,
With such name as `Forevermore.’

And the raven, sitting bold he to my living soul, told he,
That one word, as if his being in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered – not a feather then he fluttered –
Till I scarcely more than muttered `Others you have yet saved before?
Of my sorrow relieved me, as my hopes have not soared before.’
Then the bird said, `Forevermore.’

Startled at the sadness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
`Doubtless,’ said I, `what it utters I will take stock and store,
Flown from his Happy Master whom a merciful dream caster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs release burden bore –
Till the dirges of his hope freed within me all burden bore
Of “Forever-evermore.”‘

Now the raven a stately piling set my glad soul now so flying,
I wheeled a cart and danced within my soul like never once before;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this grandiose bird of yore –
What this glad, gainly, ghostly, gaily, and promising bird of yore
Meant in stately `Forevermore.’

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the capon whose loving eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o’er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o’er,
He shall press, ah, forevermore!

Then, me thought, my mind grew clearer, from the fog as from a mirror,
Removed by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
`Salvation,’ I cried, `my God hath lent thee – by these angels he has sent thee
Freedom- freedom meant He, from sure damnation bore!
Freedom from the chains of past sins my soul damnation bore!’
Quoth the raven, `Forevermore.’

`Prophet!’ said I, `of souls retrieval! – prophet still, of hell’s upheaval! –
The throne of emerald rainbow came thee to settle this one score,
Desolate my soul undaunted, a desert land disenchanted –
Prospect of hell  horror haunted – once yes, but no more –
There is – there is balm in Gilead? – He is glorious Heaven’s door!’
Quoth the raven, `Forevermore.’

`Prophet!’ said I, `of souls retrieval! – prophet still, of hell’s upheaval!
By that Heaven that bends above us – by that God we both adore –
A once dead spirit now awaken, a different road I now am taken
Of this salvation no mistaken, Jesus to whom the angels kneel before –
Not angels only but all creation and mankind shall all kneel before.’
Quoth the raven, `Forevermore.’

At that word light dream defying, with echo of saints glorifying –
Shaken from the night’s vision and the Night’s Plutonian shore!
On bed a gold plume as a token of the truth to soul was spoken!
My thought train still unbroken! – of the raven, salvation galore!
Life to my heart, a new creation of salvation of truth not lore!’
Quoth the raven, `Forevermore.’

And the raven, voice committing, in mind and heart, still is sitting
Whether dream imagined or somehow real from heaven’s door;
And his echoed voice all the seeming of an angel in my dreaming,
The eternal lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his light in my core;
And my soul now regenerated, liberated, exonerated, redeemed fore,
Shall be lifted – forevermore!

Can You Sense the Spring?

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Though it is not officially spring just yet, my honey bees and blueberries thinks it is signified by their activity and buds. Here is a poem of springiness. Hope you enjoy.

Can You Sense the Spring?

Can you feel the sunlight warm, streaming through the trees?

Melting sparkling, crystal snow, breaking loose winter’s freeze,

Preparing slumbering dormant buds, for springing into leaves,

Can you feel the sunlight warm, streaming through the trees?

 

Can you smell the flowered wind, wafting its perfume?

Lush, brilliant, meadow carpet, a rainbow now in bloom,

Swaying, budding wood, adding its flavor to the tune,

Can you smell the flowered wind, wafting its perfume?

 

Can you hear the honeybees, flying through the air?

Buzzing from flower to flower, with precision and great care,

Harvesting with great diligence, what the blooms have to share,

Can you hear the honeybees, flying through the air?

 

Can you see the butterflies, dancing on the wing?

With a graceful, melodious waltz, that nature alone can bring,

Light and lively creatures, these aerial heralders of spring,

Can you see the butterflies, dancing on the wing?

 

Can you taste the springtime rain, falling from the sky?

The thirsty earth does drink it in, as if its throat was dry,

Cool brooks now enlivened, give off a refreshing sigh,

Can you taste the springtime rain, falling from the sky?

 

So, with your senses heightened, take the springtime in,

Bees to butterflies to fragrances, lofty on the wind,

Embrace the warming rays, and dance when the rains begin,

Yes, with your senses heightened, take the springtime in.

 

Poem published in The Incredible Honey Bee: A Layman’s Reference Guide. October, 2015.