Dad

Dusty gravel roads
Near swaths of ripening wheat
-Father’s furrowed brow

                              -Clarence Holm

I think of my father, especially when I am trying to solve a problem that requires some patience. When all seems lost, I think back to my days on the farm, remembering the endless chores and the way my father attacked them day after day after day. Dad’s stoic acceptance of running a small farm with old equipment held together with bailing wire and cardboard gaskets, in a weather cycle that didn’t produce enough rain to parch the sandy soil, taught me that even in a losing effort there are battles to be won.

Though our family gardens were doomed to be raided by the neighbor’s pigs and the Massey Harris combine and the old John Deere tractor were unwilling farm servants, dad always found ways to persevere. Even when most sane men would throw in the towel, his stubborn Midwestern will would drive him through the crisis.

I remember lots of happy times too. Noon-time meals with the entire family sitting down to meat and potatoes, covered in gravy served with Mom’s fresh white bread on a plate in the middle of the table. I loved hearing his lunch time dreams of tomorrow, when the next harvest would run over our bins.

I remember him during those times of joy and sadness and wish I could stand near him again to walk in those fields of Dakota. Even though Dad rests in peace, I just wanted to say just one more time, Happy Fathers’ Day dad; I love you this much.

Home For The Memories

nightime

Weary night-time travelers,
Headlights on snow packed roads.
Drive past cold farmer’s fields,
Faintly lit by northern sky.
Called home by bits of memories,
Warm feelings held deep inside.
Hoping to recapture.
Scenes of what used to be.
Patchworks of old memories
Stitched together in dreams

Candles placed by windows,
Visible from so far away.
Beacons of wishes,
Cast on starry nights.
Crying out to loved ones,
-Come home for the night.
If only it were yesteryear,
I’m sure we’d all be there.
But time has come between us
And some are no longer here.

We hold to dreams that bring us cheer,
And drive away those past-midnight fears
Recollections of special holidays,
That stretch across the years.

                                                 -Clarence Holm

“Ormsby – Little town with big streets!”

Golden Memories

Ronovan’s Haiku Challenge 125– Gold/Sing

The Town of Ormsby has put up its’ Holiday Lights—

ormsby-snowmana

Image & Words ©2016 – Clarence Holm

Golden memories
Of refrains we use to sing
So long, long, ago

              -Clarence Holm

https://ronovanwrites.wordpress.com/2016/11/28/ronovanwrites-weekly-haiku-poetry-prompt-challenge-125-goldsing/

“Ormsby – Packed with Holiday Cheer!”

Honeysuckle Pleasure

I walked alone on prairie trail
Through knee high grass in summer.
Feel August sunlight on my neck
And watch the wandering wind.

The shimmering vista stretches for tomorrow
As I dreamed of times before
Conjure sights of ancient herds
Hearing echoes of thunderous hooves

I think of the mighty Tonka
That provided a way of life
Meat and hide, sinew strong
Weaving memories in drummer’s song

The killdeer’s cries a sharp alarm
Turns my attention home
To evening honeysuckle pleasure
That I’ll share with you alone.

-Clarence Holm

Thought Again Of Prairie Fields

I thought again of prairie fields
And remembered warm summer suns.
I felt the wind that blew back then
And played with my family again.

The big front yard, the pasture gate
Sweet memories swirl around me.
I hold the thoughts tighter now
I’m scared that I won’t remember.

Baseball games at reunion parks
Our families played there together.
The children ran, while old folks looked
And the winners called for their treasures.

We grew older then and some moved on
Black and white pictures replaced the elders.
The family picnics are much smaller now,
I’m missing so many aunts and uncles.

To return once more to yesteryear
Will have to wait for awhile.
I have dreams to share and kids to hug
Before I walk my final mile.

-Clarence Holm

A Slap in the Face!

I believe everyone has a moment in their life when everything changes. It is the point that separates life into before and after.

For me it was the second year of fourth grade!

I had already graduated from 4th grade when the school I was attending, located in the state college, closed. It was a teacher’s training system and the entire program (1st through 12th grade) was ended. It was decided that all college student’s practice teaching could be done in the state’s regular school system.

All 250 students that attended that school were officially reassigned to their regular school district. Most were absorbed by the Valley City School Systems. Unfortunately, we lived in a border location which meant we would have to attend a one room school near our farm. (For those of you that grew up watching Little House on the Prairie, you may think this would be an ideal result. But the reality was one teacher, teaching 8 grades to 35 students of various abilities and desires. And because I had attended four years of school in the “real school” I was far ahead of my peers. Meaning I was sent out to play a lot.)

The only alternative to this was attending the private Catholic school in Valley City. Our entire family had attended it once before, but had to leave because of finances. But given the choice of scraping together the money or watching me spend the year in the sandbox, we reapplied to St. Kates.

After pledging to pay the tuition, we were allowed to attend the school, unfortunately there was a problem. The 5th grade class I was to join was overcrowded, so I was temporarily placed back with my younger brother in 4th grade. I was to be moved upstairs when room was available.

I still knew all my old classmates, so it seemed strange to watch them go to the new room without me.

I was introduced to my new fourth grade classmates and because I was older and bigger than most, some taunting began. Every group had a social order and I fought my way in, through fist fights, name calling and shunning. And, because the curriculum was a repeat of what I had already learned I tuned out.

Every recess I would go to my fifth grade friends and play with them. Every lunch time I would grab my tray and slide in with them. It only made sense, because I would soon be one of them again.

After a few weeks’ time, the situation hadn’t changed. I was still stuck in my brother’s class and I was becoming a problem. I began acting out and was subjected to discipline i.e. scolding’s, raps on the head, rulers strikes on knuckles, sitting in the corner and my personal favorite “kneeling in prayer”.

After nearly a month, I heard one of the fifth graders was transferring out to the public schools while at lunchtime.

I was overjoyed! I was so excited that I ran up to Sister Monica (the Fifth Grade Nun) and said I was so happy I would finally get to rejoin my friends. I was literally jumping up and down in front of her.

Without hesitation she slapped me across the face and announced to the room that I would never be part of the class again. She walked away leaving me sobbing on the floor. Thank heaven for the lunch room ladies who picked me up and sat me in the corner.

I learned hate that day and it consumed me. My grades fell along with my self-confidence.

My parents never understood what happened to me. They only knew that the nuns had tried their best to get me into their school and it didn’t quite work out. Small sacrifices had to be made.

Over 50 years later, I still feel that nun’s slap in my face.