Collection of Poems
by Randal Bentley
Randall and wife Ona are 1961
graduates of Gideon High School
where Ona's father was Grade School Principal.
retired teachers and live in Texas. Randall has written
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
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...)
...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.
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.
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
...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
...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."
...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
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
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.
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...
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.
06/03/09 15:20:32 -0700.