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Collection of Poems

and Writings

by Randal Bentley

 

Randall and wife Ona are 1961 graduates of Gideon High School

where Ona's father was Grade School Principal.  Both are

retired teachers and live in Texas.  Randall has written

many wonderful prose and Poetry about his family-Friends,

nature and life growing up on a farm in the Bootheel

of Missouri.  See more poems by Randall/Randy

(www.poetry.com) Enjoy...                              

Family And Home

Sometimes in the quiet, reflective thoughtfulness of early morning...my thoughts return to my childhood and home. I have no illusions of those years being " the good old days", but I do have many wonderful memories of joyful and tearful experiences that have molded and influenced me over the years.  The most compelling memory-feeling that continues to span all those years is that feeling of being loved.  To know that I would always be loved by my family, even through my foolish, impetuous years, has always given me a warm, peaceful feeling inside.  I hope that my children's memories of family and home will be filled with love and warmth...just as mine.   *(Home...A place to love and be loved...where memories and attitudes that last a lifetime are born...)        (Randy Bentley)

 

CHRISTMAS IN JUNE

 

...I was awakened by the welcome sound of thunder...I rolled over quickly and glanced out the open window. The cool air off the moisture filled clouds blew the curtains slightly, bringin' to my nostrils the musky smell of rain fallin' on freshly plowed cotton fields. I could hear those big juicy drops start to splatter against the windowsill. I had seen the lightnin' late last night and hoped that we might "get a day off" from workin' in the fields...but Dad said that it was only "dry weather lightnin'"...he always said that just to tease us. Dry weather lightnin' or not...it was sure "comin' down" out there this mornin'. "Just think...a day off with no work!" Maybe I can finish my "Hardy Boys" mystery today. I think I'll just laze around and read all day. I stretched and yawned, then reached under my pillow for the ever present Hardy Boys...tiltin' the book to catch the light from the window, I started to read. Before too long I was interrupted by the faint rattlin' of pots and pans. Was that Mom rustlin' up a big batch of her mouth waterin' biscuits? I slipped quietly from my bed and headed for the kitchen...my mind filled with wonderful thoughts of the comin' day. (A rainy day, no work, the Hardy Boys...and maybe we could talk Mom into making chocolate gravy..."wow, this could be a very special day!")

As I entered the livin' room, I was surprised to see all my brothers and sisters already up "without bein' called". They were lookin' out the windows and talkin' excitedly in hushed voices. I could hear Dad's bear-like snore driftin' through his bedroom door...I guess he's gonna "sleep in" today. My eyes darted quickly toward the kitchen and sure enough, there was Mom performin' her "magic kitchen act" again. She was rollin' dough and cuttin' biscuits with one hand, stirrin' chocolate gravy in a huge bowl with her other hand...and somehow managin' to turn the bacon and eggs with yet another hand. I probably would have blinked twice and pinched myself if it had been anyone else but Mom....she was always a "one woman gang" in the kitchen or any other place where there was work to be done. (My day would be just perfect now..."Can you believe it...no field work...and chocolate gravy too?")  ...Mom said that she thought the rain had "set in" for the day...just then, a loud clap of thunder shook the house......We all looked at each other and smiled.                    

(Randy Bentley)

 

DAD'S OLD HANDS 

 

 

 Mom called...said that Dad had "crossed over" today---

Free of the "rest home" at last...his final getaway.

 

For one whose "independent spirit" defined him through the years---

Having to spend his "golden days" in a "helpless" veil of tears.

 

So...we took that homeward journey, a tear brimming every eye---

Back to the "painted house" of my youth, to say that last goodbye.

 

The funeral parlor now "across the tracks" where the "beer garden" use to be---

A fitting enough place for "last respects", though it felt a little strange to me.

 

All were filing passed "his" casket, there among the flower stands---

And when it came my time to say goodbye...I noticed his old hands.

 

They looked the same as I remembered...wrinkled, scarred and rough---

Older than their actual years...the farm had hewed them tough.

 

I wanted so to touch them...was that the proper thing to do?---

Or should I keep the procession moving, so others could pass on through?

 

My chance to touch them slipped away, as I kept my place in line---

Glancing again at those old hands...that looked so much like mine.

 

But later...before they closed his coffin, I slipped back all alone---

Reached out and patted those old hands, soon to be forever gone.

 

I was surprised at their supple, softness, not like Dad's hands at all---

The rest home years had taken his measure and made the final call.

 

No more hard work and calluses...no more fields to plow---

Old hands peacefully folded...forever idle now.

 

From the "cradle to the grave", those old hands have done their share---

A wife, six kids and a war...there's no dishonor there.

 

And since the day we laid him away...there in his final repose---

Father time ever busy eroding his memory...a natural thing, I suppose.

 

But I've always had hands like his...and they'll be with me for quite awhile---

And each time I look at my old hand...I'll think of Dad...and smile.

 

To my Dad...            (Randy Bentley...memories and notions are mine only)

 

Time Or Distance

...I'm not part of your world and I seldom see you anymore. I knew that "time", with its gentle, eternal, healing compassion would gradually dim my memories of you. My old dream of you and I riding into the sunset fades a little more with each passing day. "Time...that's all I need...just a little more time."

...Occasionally, quite by chance, we "run into" each other...we carefully exchange polite pleasantries...my heart pounds and my eyes search, already realizing what they'll find. After many rehearsals, you play your part quite well...you frown...your sky blue eyes hold mine for the slightest of moments...then you look quickly away. Our chance encounter ends abruptly, but as I walk away I can still feel your eyes on me...I glance over my shoulder, but again you turn away.

...Later, my pulse slows, but thoughts of you linger like expensive perfume...filling me with a warm desire that I haven't felt since our days together.

...Once again my mind nudges me gently into my old illusion...my dream of "you and I" slowly returns. In that dream, I squint tightly against that wondrous glow from the west...a silhouetted horse and rider canter slowly through the late evening stillness...behind them the dust hangs in the air, adding a twinge of crimson to the purple and gold already there...the rider, seemingly in search of something, carefully scans the distant horizon. "After all these years, could I possibly be wrong?"  "Maybe time doesn't possess this magical healing power after all...I wonder?"  "If it's not time, what else on earth can it possibly be?"   "I've got it!  It must be "distance"!   That's got to be it!  Distance!"   The rider grits his teeth...his spurs flash in the waning light...he gives the sorrel his head...nostrils flare...hooves thunder...the miles fade...the distance beckons.

..."Distance, sure, why didn't I think of that before?"    I'm not part of your world and I seldom see you anymore...I knew if I traveled far that "distance", with its wide valleys, foreboding mountains and wild rivers would gradually dim my memories of you.  My old dream of you and I riding into the sunset fades a little more with each passing mile.  "Distance...that's all I need...just a little more distance."          (Randy Bentley)

 

TIME

 ...In my younger years, "Father Time" always seemed to arrive at a "snails pace".   Never in a hurry, that old sway-backed burro that he rode in those days wouldn't have know a lather from corn shucks.  But somewhere around my fortieth birthday, he traded that old burro for a big sleek black stallion.  Now-a-days he rides "hell bent for leather", always in a lather, straight to my door.  I can hear those hooves thundering faintly in the distance...getting nearer and nearer.   "Drat, didn't I just have a dang birthday?" 

"I can't believe it's been a year already."   "Ohhhhh...how I miss that old burro."  

(My notion only...Randy Bentley)

 

Prom Night 1961

 

Larry H's mom died a couple of months ago in Gideon

and he picked up some boxes of pictures etc., thatshe had

saved for him over the years...said he felt strange going into the

old "El Morocco Club" to view the body (Now the Bradshaw Funeral Home.) 

 I mentioned to him that in the old days, I had seen a few people "laid away" over there, but of course, not permanently.)  Weeee! 

Anyway... lately he's been sending me some great old high school pictures etc...(I love old pictures) I love that tiny microcosm of frozen time that old photo's conger...allowing us to revisit those moments that would be otherwise lost to us forever. Old pictures give me such a warm feeling inside. I guess it gives me a sense of where I am in life...I guess it's a sense of coming from, belonging or having roots, etc. (Yes, I was there at that moment in time...that's where I'm from and now I'm looking back from here...and of course...I wonder where I'm going from here?) Does that make sense. (My feelings only, of course.) I'm sending you an old prom picture from 1961...

In looking at the picture, I'm wondering what our boy "Phil D" is doing with that suspicious looking bottle?  Do you think that he would have dared to sneak a "bottle of spirits" into the senior prom festivities?  After all these years, has he been caught on camera? I'm sooo shocked and disappointed with "young Phil"...Of all things! Alcohol at the senior prom!   "Please Phil...say it ain't so!"  Weeeeee!   Again, as I look at this photo...I'm wondering where Larry Hicks and I were? Maybe somewhere in the company of the "fairer sex" with that lustful gleam in our eyes. Or maybe just around the corner, "grab-assin" with another group of "hairy legged" guys from our class. Ohhh ... Well...the "fairer sex scenario "makes better fodder" for an old romantic/poetic wanna be. Weeeee!   Ahhh...eighteen, studly and bullet-proof... filled with the bravado of youth.

Had we known what "lay in store" for us out there in the "big scary world"...would we have lingered and "sipped from the sweet cup of youth a tad longer?  If we passed those rowdy youths on the street today, would we even recognize them...I wonder? Has forty years of married life, raising a family and "nine to fiving" taken the swagger from their strides and stolen that "wild and crazy" youthful gleam from their eyes? Did we get "short changed" when we traded all that "studly, bullet-proof  youth" for such a "meager helping" of wisdom"?   I wonder if our wisdom at age fifty-eight rises comparably to the same heights as our studliness did at age eighteen?  Is there a relationship there somewhere?  Weeeee!  (Where in the hell did those forty years go to.) Ahhh, ...c'est la vie...c'est la vie (Anyway...we thought we were the kings.) Gentle thoughts...from RB1 ...email from RB1

 

Broadway of Life

Our world is like a large theatrical production,
without manuscripts or prompters.
We must all ad-lib our lines from one act to the other.
Each of us is cast to play a certain role that only we can play.
We may "stand in" briefly for other actors, but only they are truly
Capable of playing their parts.
And like the dusky darkness of evening...the curtain softly falls.
There are no encores.
It matters not if the critics laud or condemn our performance.
For just as the fragrant blossoms and green leaves of springs wondrous
Renewal...we must all return to answer the curtain call...
Again and again.

Randy Bentley

Copyright 2006 Randall Bentley

 

I Saw You Frowning Today

You forced a smile when you glanced my way---
But why were you frowning so today?

I guess no one has a perpetual smile---
And we all have to frown once in a while.

But it seemed so uncharacteristic of you---
You're usually smiling the whole day through.

It hurts me to think you might be sad---
Or upset, lonely and feeling bad.

It can't be true about a frown---
Just being a smile turned upside down.

That frown I saw on your face today---
Was filled with sadness...turned either way.

I saw you frowning today...

Randall Bentley

Copyright 2006 Randall Bentley

 

Out of Control

Why do we hurry and force things so?
Ever in a tizzy . . . a million places to go.

No time to savor those meaningful things
That a slower paced life sometimes brings.

Always wishing we could take the time
To get away with the "salt and the lime."

To smell the roses and the coffee too
And do all the things we'd love to do.

So . . . now and then we stray from the throng
It feels so right, it can't be wrong.

And for a few fleeting moments we slow life's pace
Then "hell bent for leather" we're back in the race.

Trying to please others and rushing around
On puppet strings . . . with our feet off the ground.
 

Randall M. Bentley

Copyright 2006 Randall Bentley

 

The Light Within

So many of us try to hide---
That which comes from deep inside.

The "common opinion" our only chance---
Like puppets on a string we dance.

Joining only the "accepted" crowd---
And never expressing our hearts too loud.

But then comes that glorious day---
When we throw all our pretense away.

Stepping away from our "place in line"---
Proudly allowing...our light to shine.

Randall Millard Bentley

Copyright 2006 Randall Bentley

 

More of Randall's poems can be found on

www.poetry.com under Randall Bentley

"Green, Green Grass Of Home"

 

Gideon Seniors 1959
Copyright 2001 by [Gideon Seniors 1959]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 06/03/09 15:20:32 -0700.