Sunday, 23 June 2019


Feeding the wolves

I can find so much peace and serenity from the stories and legends of the Native Americans.   

An elder Cherokee Native American was teaching his grandchildren about life.  He said to them, "A fight is going on inside me ... it is a terrible fight and it is  between two wolves.  One wolf represents fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.   The other stands for joy, peace, love, hope, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and  faith.  The same fight is going on inside you, and inside every other person, too."

They thought about it for a minute and then one child asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"  The old Cherokee simply replied...  "The one you feed."

Saturday, 22 June 2019

My Love With Native American Spirituality...

"This knowledge came to us from the outer world with our religion. Everything the Power of the World does is done in a circle. The sky is round, and I have heard that the earth is round like a ball, and so are all the stars. The wind, in its greatest power, whirls. Birds make their nests in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours. The sun comes forth and goes down again in a circle. The moon does the same, and both are round.  Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing, and always come back again to where they were. The life of a man is a circle from childhood to childhood, and so it is in everything where power moves. Our teepees were round like the nests of birds, and these were always set in a circle, the nation's hoop, a nest of many nests, where the Great Spirit meant for us to hatch our children." - Black Elk - Oglala Sioux

 It was because of my alcoholism that I began looking at different philosophies and religions of the world to find my own unique Higher Power. I'm not talking about religion and truth be told it upsets me when others can't separate religion from spirituality. I believe religion is a very private and personal thing that is between me and my Creator. Spirituality, to me, is the presence of someone or something that makes my life more manageable while I'm alive. With that being said, I would like to share something I read years ago and was recently reintroduced too.  And that is the power of circles.

When I said I studied different beliefs early in my recovery, my mind really opened a lot when I looked at mythology... especially the Greeks and Romans. As I read the stories it was easy for me to imagine living in a time like that, before science, which would make everything into a special Higher Power. From a thunderstorm, to fires, to earthquakes... it was all because of the gods that these things happened.

For me, it all came together when I started looking at the ways of the American Indian. I believe it was from the book Black Elk Speaks that I began learning about the power of the circle for an individual. The Indian believed that no good can come in a square or a rectangle... it puts boundaries on not only the physical body but also the soul as well. And it was with this faith that the elders of the Indians believed this was why they didn't do well on reservations... they were given houses and huts that were square and their circle died, which killed part of them.

The Lakota believe that the center of the Universe was in the Black Hills of South Dakota, yet it was also said that wherever you were was the center of the universe. And part of that center was the circle that covered you... an invisible tube that protected you as well as guided you.

With a circle, there isn't any straight lines like that in a square. Straight lines that could stop your progress. Squares also have corners that could trap you. But a circle? No straight lines to stop your progress, nor corners to trap you. You are free to move in any direction and your journey can move freely.

Our universe, is part of a large circle. The earth where we live is a circle. The water and the land are part of that circle. Every breath we take is not only a part of our individual circle, but also part of earth's circle.

We also can use a circles as an imaginary friend. Just look at the ground in front of you. See that circle... in it place your good traits... your honesty and integrity... everything that is good place in that circle... step forward and as you do... give thanks to your Higher Power for your strengths which were freely given to you and enjoy your walk and journey in the circle of life.

Native American 10 Commandments

1. The Earth is our mother; Care for her

2. Honor all your relations

3. Open your heart and soul to the great Spirit

4. All life is sacred; treat all beings with respect

5. Take from the Earth what is needed and nothing more

6. Do what needs to be done for the good of all

7. Give constant thanks to the great Spirit for each new day

8. Speak the truth, but only of the good in others

9. Follow the rhythms of nature; rise and retire with the sun

10. Enjoy life's journey, but leave no tracks


original origin is unknown

Closter, NJ Vietnam Vets

Below is the list of men and women who served during the Vietnam War.  Not everyone on the list served in Vietnam but rather they were in active duty during the conflict.  The list are people from my hometown.  And a note - 1(*) means killed in action and 2(**) means wounded in action...

Richard Ambrose
James Amendola*
Walter Ancker
Daniel Anderson
Alfred Anderson
Robert Anderson
Valerie Barkley
Howard Bartholf
Harold Beaumont
Robert Beaumont
David Berrian
Thomas Berrian
Richard Biggar
Jo Anne Binaghi
Word Bizzell
Henry Blankenship**
Joseph Blais
Thomas Bosco
Norman Bottie
Thomas Braun
Tim Brinkerhoff
Frederick Brue
Geoffrey Brue
Wayne Brue
Paul Carabetta
Richard Christensen
John Kenneth Conboy
John Kevin Conboy
Michael Conway
William Cook
David Cosgrove
Lawrence Crawford
James D'Amico
Stephen Daly
James DaMico
Nicholas DaMico
Paul Daraghy
Donald deMarigny
Robert deMarigny
Robert Depinto
David Doremus
Raymond Dorow
John Doyle**
Harold Endres
Bruce Evans
Barbara Farrell
Kevin Flanagan
Daniel Fitzgerald
John Fitzgerald
Lawrence Fitzgerald
Ralph Folsom     
George Foss
James Frank      
Robert Frank**
Peter Fulchiron
Albert Giannotti
John Giannotti   
Donald Gill**
Charles Gnerlich
Robert Gnerlich
Ken Guile        
Kenneth Haass
Michael Harm     
Richard Harm
Donald Harvey    
William Hayes
Walter Hawley
Mark Hettinger
Dennis Hoag     
Glenn Hoag  
Gary Hoag       
Louis Hoffman
Anthony Holmes**   
Edward Holtzbach
Michael Horowitz
William Howley
David Hughes  
Dennis Iafrate
Doug Isbecque
Ron Jacobs       
Hugh Johnson
Donald Jones    
Walter Kangas
Allen Kanze      
David Kanze
Anthony Karlovich
Joseph Keegan**
Bernard Kelly    
John Koker
Robert Kuhnert   
James Langhorst
Denis Lapp      
Michael Lapp
Allen Layne JR   
Ronnie Layne
Craig Limbert    
Frank Limbert
Anthony Lione**  
James Locovare
Thomas Locovare
Wayne Lowery
Earl Lucious
Richard Lynott
Charles Lyons   
Everett MacDonald
Robert Magel
Bruce Marshall  
Joseph Martin JR
Robert Maurer  
Laurence McCabe
Dennis McGuire**
Francis McLean  
Thomas McNamara
Ronald Menti    
Frank Mitchell
John Mitchell JR
James Moeser   
Donald Mollicone*
Clifford Morelli
John Motta
Robert Mueller  
Anthony Nasuto JR
Roy Nicolosi   
Joseph Novack**
Thomas Oettinger
Emory Oman
Edward Onny
Andrew Orlich
James O'Shaughnessy*
Thomas O'Shaughnessy
John Paccagnini  
Donald Parsells
Frederick Parsells
Reginald Parsells
Russell Parsells
William Parsells
Robert Pierro
Thomas Pierro
Gerald Poh       
Patricia Portas
Richard Prodigo  
Robert Regino
William Ricciardella
Robert Richard
Albert Richardson
Charles Richardson
Arnold Ritter     
Robert Roe
Lynn Rosso      
John Saladino
Robert Santo     
Al Savianeso
Robert Scherer   
Thomas Scherer
Ernest Schirmer  
Kenneth Shauble*
James Skinner    
Walter Soderquist
Joel Stern       
Roy Stevenson
Gary Stewart   
Richard Stone
Richard Terrell
Louis Troiano
Warren Vanderbush
Thomas Wanamaker
Dean Ward
Stephen Woodard
Edmond Wynn

Note - * - Killed in Action **- Wounded in Action

Men (And Women) Of Closter

Front of the courthouse,
it found its home.
Names of people,
standing together,
yet… all alone.
Served their country
in a far away land.
In the jungles of Vietnam
they made their stand.

There was respect for names
on the wall.
The town of Closter,
was proud of them all.
Young men and women,
from my hometown.
Most made it back…
but… four ended up in the ground.

A few years earlier,
going to school,
at old Demarest.
Then we prayed,
that they’d be blessed.
No longer girls and boys,
playing games with innocent toys.

Only their “brothers” could understand,
when they returned,
from that strange land.
It’s been thirty years since wars end.
Hearts still healing,
still on the mend…
I hope we never forget,
to be proud of our…
Vietnam Vets

Known But To God

What happened to you?
How did you die?
Where did it occur?
Were you a husband, a dad?
Or were you a wife, a mom?

So many questions,
yet… the answers will never be known.
We can say… your home!
Not the place of your birth,
but a place of respect… and love.

A place of peace…
where we can promise…
you’ll never be hurt again.
Forever guarded… forever protected

A nation will come and visit you,
and witness the dignity of your life.
When we walk away,
we’ll leave with pride…
You fought for us and our ideals,
and though we’ll never know
who you were, we’re comforted…
that you’re known to God.

Reflections In The Wall

the mirrored image
doesn’t show the many names
symbolic in the realm…
that the name and the mirror
could be ours

starts slowly in a triangle
just a name or two
more steps… more panels…
many more names

approaching the middle
an overpowering presence
of life… and the loss of…
the head tilts back
to see all their names

who were they…
where were they from…
someone’s child…
maybe a parent…
someone’s brother or sister

a name on a wall
but our reflection
tells their story…
they had dreams and hopes
and like us…
they were people

Our Boy Is A Man

we changed your diapers
and watched you grow…
so very fast
little league baseball
and midget football
you learned to compete
we shared your victories
and hugged you through defeats

where did the time go
one year in kindergarten
then… off to the prom
riding a tricycle
then… cruising main street
in your sports car
holding mommy and daddy’s hands
then… hugging your own child

you grew into a young man
and made choices…
that brought us pride
but now we’ll live with anxiety
we’re parents and we’ll always…
think of you as our little boy
and as you fight to protect our freedom
we’ll count the days until you come home

we’re sorry if we shed some tears
and don’t want to stop hugging you
but it’s the last time we’ll see you for awhile
we know you’re trained and ready to go
just always remember…
your whole family loves you

The Presidents

42 men have led our great nation
through trials and tribulations
so many sleepless nights
but our freedom is worth the fight
sometimes we take for granted
all that they have done
their decisions are the reason
our flag still flies in the sun

Veterans can't depend on VA for assistance

I use to enjoy this time of the year. A presidential election around the corner, celebrating our heritage as a nation. This year, with troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere around the world, who cares about Vietnam? The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and their counterparts Texans for Truth, have made this election a joke and we should all be outraged! I believe the more important issue is what happen to the veterans when they returned home? I'm not talking about parades or a pat on the back, I'm talking about years from now. Will the government keep their promises to all these heroes? Right now, I can say they won't! Last year I wrote a poem entitled "Where is the VA?", which the Daily-Sun published on Veteran's Day. From that time to July 30, 2004, I watched a World War II veteran fade away. This veteran was my father-in-law, George Rohr. The VA seemed to do everything possible to help speed along the process. To cut costs, seeing a VA doctor became a once a year appointment. The government "outsourced" its responsibility to local doctors, which would have been OK, if the government, worked with these doctors. The last year and a half of my father-in-laws life was filled with disgust for a government he believed in his whole life.

In the end, he was tired and in pain. For family members the last 24 hours will never be forgotten. A feeling of hopelessness with acceptance. And we were all comforted by the fact that nurses, doctors, and Hospice, all said he was in no pain. You want to know something? I now understand his disgust. The VA, won't pay for the pain medication, because they didn't approve it! The VA would have rather seen an old man suffer and die in pain, instead of paying $650 as a final "Thank you" to one of its heroes!

I think its time we tell our politicians to stop it! Stop the lies, stop the games. Our nation deserves more then this. Instead of wondering who did what in Vietnam, maybe we should be more concerned about who is going to take care of all these veterans. The poem below I wrote, trying to share my frustration, with an issue that isn't right, and both political parties seem to ignore.


Families cried when they went to war.
Cheered! Upon return, walking through their door!
They were all happy and relieved.
Years later, they learned, they were deceived.
For the soldier, the war would never end.
The government destroyed his heart -
It was impossible to mend.
Tossed aside, hoping they'd disappear.
The VA, taught them a new fear.
Clinics and doctors, rarely returning calls.
Their appointments, they'd sit, for hours,
Staring at the walls.
As the soldier dies,
He leaves behind a family, to mourn and cry.
They remember, their hero,
Dressed in white, green, or blue.
Then the VA says, "We're not quite through!"
"This bill won't be paid,
Because of an error that was made."
"One other thing, we should mention,
His wife, is not entitled to his pension."
For the USA, he fought, day after day.
He believed in what he was fighting for.
But, in the end the VA - SLAM SHUT THE DOOR.

Veterans should be getting help due them from the government

Veterans Day is a holiday for the men and women who have served for our nation. It isn't a holiday for our government.

This past year, The Legion magazine has done a series of articles on the health care for our heroes. It's basically, in a shambles. Budget cuts and broken promises are the rule rather then the exception. There were stories of veterans waiting over a year to see a doctor. Another story, was with a gentleman who after waiting 18 months, finally got an appointment. His appointment was in a college gym, where he and hundreds of other veterans were serviced all in one day.

Our government made a promise to these people. Now that they are no longer needed, the promises are being broken. If you're a World War II vet or a Korean vet, your chances of getting help are slipping away. From what I've seen in the last year, the older veterans are left out in the cold, their government waiting for them to die.

This is from experience. My ex-father-in-law is a WWII veteran, a humble man who has never had mass riches or wealth. The one thing he could count on was good medical care, until recently. First, the Lincoln VA was drastically cut back in size. More and more of his appointments were in Omaha. That's a long way for an 86 year old man with diabetes. Then in March, he had some serious medical problems. We called for our local ambulance, then was transported 20 miles to a community hospital. Checked out there, then transported to a larger hospital in Lincoln.

The VA wouldn't pay the bill because the ambulance, stopped at the community hospital. They didn't care that our local ambulance didn't have the equipment, nor the personnel, to travel the extra 45 miles. I've known this man for over seven years and until this year, I've never seen him upset or worried. He could share horror stories about his time in Japan, but there was no hate in his voice. His health is now to the point, where he couldn't return home. Both my in-laws are now residents at a assisted living facility. Every day, my ex-wife and sister-in-law try to calm them down because the VA won't pay this bill or that bill. But through it all, they still believe in our government. They just wish they would honor their promise. None of this was a handout, it was a commitment from our government. A commitment based on the ideal of keeping America - America!

I'm sharing a poem that illustrates my feelings on veterans and the government.

Saved some money.
The nation won't forget.
Though our government will.
Thinking, families would soon forget,
They never looked back with regret.
It was just a building.
Sure, it served our heroes.
Medical staff, helped as best they could
For our leaders, just a structure,
Made of brick and wood.

Vets shared stories,
Some told many times.
They weren't always about glory,
In the end, they found peace of mind.
Others, were never told before.
These men found comfort,
Inside the building's doors.
There were no dads, brothers, or sons.
Just guys sharing stories,
From when they carried a gun.

At nights, these buildings...
Sit silent and in the dark.
You can almost hear the whispers,
Of children, running the halls,
Their fingerprints, covering the walls.
Visiting dads and grandpas, too.
Giving them hugs, saying, "I love you."
From the road driving by,
You knew, America's best, were inside.
A handout isn't what they received,
A commitment from their government,
Is what they believed.

Different ages, different wars,
Come on USA, open the VA doors.
To see a doctor, takes a year or more.
Come on, please, re-open the VA doors.
Don't care, what their age.
Come on, let our heroes in.
The way they're being treated,
Is nothing short of a sin.

The poem Where is the VA? is from the book Damaged Merchandise

Christmas In Iraq

As a child, I remember my parents sending “care” packages to my brother, Mike, while he was in Vietnam. At that time, our only means of communication was by mail. We’d wait sometimes for weeks to get a response. Everyday checking the mail. It was a joyous event when that letter finally arrived. We’d take turns reading that letter over and over again. I had forgotten about those times tilla new set of letters entered my life... 

A couple of years ago, I received an e-mail from a gentleman wondering if I was any relation to the Harm family that lived in Closter, New Jersey and if I had a brother named Mike.  After a few e-mails I found out that Howard lived a couple a streets away from our home.  He played baseball with my brothers and they were in the Cub Scouts together.

Over time, I learned that Howard was a career military man who had also served his country in Vietnam.  Through our conversations he sent me some old clippings from our home town and a list of all who served in Vietnam from our community.  For me, it was a trip down memory lane and one that inspired me to write a poem about the Closter Vietnam Vet.  That Veteran’s Day, Howard read my poem at a ceremony dedicating a new Veteran’s Park, in Closter, NJ.

Howard and I still exchange occasional e-mails and share stories about our lives.  Recently, he sent me an exchange he had with his son, who at the time was serving in Iraq.

“Hi buddy, How are things going?  Have any of the packages I sent arrived yet?  I have mailed you three. What do you guys think about the Rumsfeld resignation? If you get a chance, send me an e-mail and tell me what they have been having you do.  Stay safe and take care.” - Love you bud,  Dad and Jan 

In the days of Vietnam, there wasn’t any Internet.  Waiting for an answer seemed like an eternity.  What use to take weeks, now only takes a matter of days or maybe even minutes.  But for a parent, I’m sure it still feels like an eternity. 
Yes, I received two boxes and a letter the day before yesterday.  I think it actually arrived earlier, but I was so busy I didn't have time to pick up mail until the day before yesterday.  I have been flying my tail off.  5 or 6 hours at a time.  I've already hit 15 hours Combat Flight time, and that's in 3 flights.  I flew today during the day and this place is crazy.  I flew two night missions before today, so I didn't actually see what this place looks like during the day.  I guess in Biblical terms this was where life began(Babylon), and some of it is beautiful, however, most of the landscape is scared by war, and the Iraqis burn everything, including sewage, so there is quite an odor in the air.  There are thousands of canals branching off the Euphraties and the Tigris Rivers, giving the enemy plenty of places to hide.  Anyway, I was really happy to receive mail from home.  The Virginia Peanuts are fantastic and my roommate Rich agrees.  Thanks for everything, I should be set for quite sometime.  The Christmas Tree is awesome and I have it set up in my room.  I
remember seeing a picture of you in Vietnam with your Xmas tree.  It's strange how we've kinda been down the same road in life.  I was going to wait until after Thanksgiving to set up the tree, but I said what the heck, I'm in Iraq.  We'll start celebrating Xmas early.  The music book and army bottle opener were a very nice touch.  Thanks for my American Legion Membership Card and especially the picture of Madelyn Grace, she is adorable.  It's amazing how much she resembles Steve.  What a cutie!  The Cashews are great and they really help out when I work through meals.  We're almost too busy to eat sometimes.  Rumsfeld, I don't think anyone here cares about him anymore.  A lot of guys were pretty happy.  I guess the Democrats are back.  We'll see how they handle this war.  Hopefully we can accomplish our mission and get home.  We would be done here if the Iraqis would get on board and fight for their country.  Well, its 1:45am my time and I'm exhausted, must go to sleep now.  Thanks again for the packages, you guys are great.  I love you guys and tell everyone I said hello.  Tell Scott I'm waiting for my email from him.  Ok, I'll talk to you guys soon.”
Your Son,
It is easy to feel the love between a father and his son in this letter.  I feel honored that Howard has shared this letter with me and given me permission to share it with you.  Ryan makes a comparison by remembering seeing a picture of his Dad next to a Christmas tree in Vietnam, now he has a Christmas tree in Iraq.  Not where either one of them wanted to be, but both realizing they were called to duty and a job had to be done.  Our soldiers for generations have given so much and have asked for so little.  They deserve our respect and our support.  This holiday season pray for our soldiers safety and pray that by this time next year everyone is back home.

More of these e-mail exchanges can be found here

Friday, 21 June 2019

Thinking Of Our Angel

Thinking of our Angel I wrote on the sixth anniversary of Andrea's death. ( 5 FEB 2006)

Andrea Marie Scherling, was a lot more then my stepson Brad's girlfriend. She was a friend to everyone she ever met. I truly believe she knew her time in this world would be short, so she lived it with love and happiness...

It's been six years,
yet... time seems
like it was yesterday.

Wonderful memories
will always guide us
and lead us...

We all know
that we were blessed...
a vibrant smile,
a warmth shown
by an enlightened
spiritual presence.

It's been six years
since Andrea Marie left
and it's been six years
since an angel
entered our lives

We've been blessed
more then once
for we know
by our side...
she will stay

Andrea Scherling

My tribute poems started with the lady pictured below.  The poem below is not one of them though.  Andrea
Scherling wrote it two weeks before her death. Andrea died at the age of 18, from a rare heart defect. She
was truly a special person, wise before her years. She left this world on February 5, 2000. She loved to
write, years later, people were still finding notes of hers. So today, I'd like to introduce her to all of you.

Andrea wrote this in a card and gave it to me, shortly before one of my ex-wife's surgeries for cancer. She
was a vital part of our families recovery plans. She often stayed up late talking with Betty at our kitchen
table. She offered to babysit, if Betty couldn't do it and offered to drive Betty to her chemo sessions. She
was a true friend to this whole family and I'm still amazed at how much she taught me. Andrea was part of
the reason, my book ended up with a chapter entitled "Omega." When I presented the idea to include her in
my book to her Mom, she loved it, saying her worse fear would be that people would forget her daughter.
Believe me, anyone who knew her will never forget her.  Now folks... here is Andrea...

"The love of those,
who care for us,
can be a healing thing.
As warm and bright and comforting,
as sunny days in spring.

The love of those who care for us,
So often brings a smile.
To cheer our thoughts,
To lift our hearts,
To make life, more worthwhile.

The love of those who care for us,
Can help us everyday.
For love's the kind of miracle,
That always finds a way."

No, this won't be easy,
Nor will it be short.
But the situation exists.
What we need to do now,
Is let the doctors do their work,
And be at Betty's side.

Through each operation,
And each therapy session,
We must hold Betty's hand.
She is strong and so are you.
But when you start to break down,
Dave, remember all the people,
That are here for you.
I'll be the first in line,
To listen, if you let me.
Let's get Betty through this.
God Bless,
Andrea Scherling

Mr. Production Superintendent Man

How many bosses in your life did you truly admire and respect? That made your work fun and you took pride in it? How many bosses have you worked for that wouldn't ask you to do something that he wouldn't do? In July of 2004, my boss retired. I wrote this poem in his honour. It was also the first poem someone asked me to autograph. If you got a good boss, cherish him (or her) because when they leave, nothing is ever the same. Jerry, I now appreciate more than ever all the things you did for ALL of us. Jerry, was originally from Oklahoma, so any southerners out there may understand the "twang" in his voice, which I tried to do in the poem.

God Damn, Mr. Superintendent man.
Running a bakery on cruise control,
Always running at a steady flow!
He gave it his all - his heart and soul.
Tell us, you don't have to go!
Your stories you told a time or two,
From Dallas and Kansas City, too.
But the one's we'll remember best,
Happened right here.
I'm sure, they'll never, be put to rest.

By the oven, nuts on the floor.
A scared worker,
Heading for the mixing room door.
"I wouldn't have done that,
If I was you!"
All he saw was Jerry's veins,
Turning deep blue.
"Get the buckets,"
Said more then one time.
But you always restored order,
Until things were running just fine.

You could see through our lies.
"Bull shhhhiiittttt."
Originality, we would try.
"I'm in jail,"
But this too, would fail.
How many gray hairs,
Did you receive,
When we tried to deceive?

You told us your roots,
Down Oklahoma way.
Kunta Campbell, was born that day!
Words you never wanted to hear,
"Not my job."
And you proved it, year after year.
Our "String bean,"
Was a tall, lean, working machine!

On July 2nd, 2004,
You'll take one final walk,
Out the side door.
With tears and applause,
We'll say good-bye.
If you listen closely,
The building....
Will let out a sigh.

Ode To The Fruitcake Man

A man I worked with for the last 11 plus years retired in 2007, after being in the baking business for over 40 years. I wrote this poem and the company put it on some fancy paper and than had it professionally matted and framed.  I enjoy these types of personal poems, which I read at the retirement party. The real thrill, for me, is reading it with a pause in a certain place, bringing it to life. By the end, I had the guy in tears! Success!!!

there was a man a long, long, time ago
who talked of fruits and bread dough
he preached of the sweets and the booze thrown in
and how his product was better then sin

through the years he walked in many doors
coast to coast at food shows, shops, and stores
it didn't take long for the word to get around
when the fruitcake man was back in town

trying to convince others of its unique appeal
always dreaming of the million pound deal
"if we could do this," or "if we could do that"
"man, our wallets would certainly get fat"

Yeah, he was the man that sold fruitcakes
don't laugh, he heard all the jokes, for goodness sakes
fruits and nuts will never look the same
he's throwing in the towel, retiring from this game

somewhere in fruitcake lore
will be the story of the man who walked these floors
as he gets in his truck and rides away
we'll wave... and remember the good old days

Joyful Memories

For two years, I worked with a young man, who was a joy and a headache at the same time. He lived life to the fullest and found joy in making others laugh. He was killed in a car crash about eight months ago and I don't think there was one day at work that didn't pass without someone telling a story about Jon. He was an innocent, carefree, intelligent man who at the same time could be characterized as a "bull in a china shop."

July 9, 2005 would have been Jon's 25th birthday. With this poem I wanted his parents to know, that we still think about them and that Jon is still a very big part of our memories...

Not quite a quarter of a century
dreams never totally realized
not quite long enough to leave a legacy
broken hearts, still mourns, still cries

Not quite 25 years
couldn’t achieve your goals
today, we remember with tears
a young man with a carefree soul

At work, you seem to make the day
joking and looking for a bite to eat
with things you did or words you’d say
shaking our heads, laughing out of our seats

Your memory will always live on
stories retold time after time
still hard to believe you’re gone
your smile lives on in our mind

It was hard to stay mad
at some of the things that were done
you’re one of a kind and I’m glad
we got to share time under the same sun

Gave it your all and you lived with a zest
Today on your birthday,
wishing you peace and rest
Spreading your wings you began to fly
And I’m sure you’re saying…
“I’m happy, please don’t cry.”

What Would He Had Said

In memory of Jon Shada, died in a car crash in October of 2004.  I trained Jon where we worked.  A young man who loved life.

When this young man,
Is laid to rest,
We're left wondering,
Did we see him at his best?
Plans for a future, he often told.
Ideas were creative and bold!
Told with a sparkle in his eye,
Of inventions,
He'd be willing to try.

Happy and carefree,
This is what we'd all see.
A smile, that put us at ease.
With a joke, he'd try to tease.
There was no anger or hatred,
From this gentle-man.
He enjoyed his time,
Living in this land.

Dreams of college,
Were on the way.
He had hopes for a better day.
We lost more,
Then a young man today.
A voice for our future....
.....went silent....
...........nothing more to say....

A Man With Many Title

A poem I wrote and read at my ex-father-in-law's funeral in 2004

Many years ago,
A child was born!
George would be his name.
For the rest of his time,
In this world,
Many lives, would never be the same.

He was the joy,
Of his Father and Mother.
And his titles had begun.
He was a son,
And also a brother!
Adulthood made him a husband and a Dad.
War came, his little family,
Became fearful and sad.
A son, brother, husband, Dad,
And now, a soldier, too.
But his titles were far from being through!

When he returned, his family grew!
Four sons and a daughter, too.
A simple life, is what he would stress.
For five kids, on a farm,
They were truly blessed.
A new title, a farmer,
He would receive.
But his wife and children,
Would be all he'd need.

His titles still far from done,
George would add a few more,
Living his days, under the Sun.
Grandpa came!
For his grandkids,
He always had time,
To play some games.
He watched his family, grow and thrive.
Pretty soon, Great-Grandpa, came alive!
He reminded us, that family came first.
It helped fill our spiritual thirst.

When his time comes to an end,
A message to his family, he will send.
"By your side, I will stay.
I'll be here each and everyday.
Its OK, the pain is no more.
Please don't rush, I'll be waiting for you,
At Heaven's door."

Our Mom And Best Friend

A poem I read at my ex-mother-in-law's funeral in 2005... I entitled it

Jim, Harold, John, Betty, and Ray
your children... and their families...
we’re all with you on this special day.

We’re comforted with thoughts,
of a sleep full, peaceful rest
and through our tears
we know we were blest.

Many pictures line our walls
but our memories will be the best of all
the stories that you often told
sharing a family history, worth more then gold

No more walkers... no more pain...
no more wheelchairs... able to walk again
we’ll find comfort knowing Dad
is by your side, showing you the way
and we’ll smile as we watch you two
dance the days away...

So many pants patched, hems raised,
buttons replaced and quilts made.
So many meals prepared, so many beds made
your work never seemed to be done,
but yet, you always had time for us and shared
in our fun.

You watched your children,
have children of their own
and your love for them was well known.
These grandchildren of yours,
kept the family tree alive
and it all started with the original family of five

13 grandchildren and 9 great-children, too
descendants of both Dad and you
it was your love that kept this family alive
and it is this love... that will always be by our side

Someday we’ll smile again...
but right now it’s hard...
...we lost our best friend...

Their Time

On New Years Eve Day 1939, my in-laws (ex) were married. Except for two years during WWII and the year after my father-in-law past away, they spent every year together. New Years Eve 2005 they celebrated their first anniversary together for all eternity. I only had the privilege of knowing them for nine years, but they were truly magnificent people.  I wrote this poem using their thoughts and words...

On a cold winter day
our hearts were warm
by each others side we would stay

Only separated by World War II
at the end of the year
always reminiscing, saying “I do.”

In Marysville, Kansas we became one
New Years Eve was everyday
and our love was never done

Commitment our children would see
a bond they’d understand
within the strength of family

Love grew with new sons and daughters, too
children by marriage
we love everyone of you

We watched you start families of your own
grand-children bouncing on our knees
our little children were now grown

The years kept flying by
but we were never alone
now great-grandchildren were by our side

We’ll always be with you
but now it’s time
never forget we love you

We’re starting a new life together
it’s fresh and it’s new
and our love will last forever…

Thursday, 20 June 2019

Diller Resident’s Poetry Helps To Fight Cancer

A Diller resident has picked up his pen to help put down cancer.  Dave Harm has put his poetry to music as a fund-raiser for Relay For Life.  The CD is titled,  Purple Power.  Harm’s ultimate goal behind Purple Power is that one day nobody will know what any of the poems are about.  Purple Power is a CD collection of 12 of Harm’s poems about cancer set to music.  The proceeds from the sales of the CDs will go to the Jefferson County and Gage County Relay For Life organizations.

In 2000, Betty Harm, Dave’s wife, was diagnosed with Stage III breast cancer.  After a modified radical mastectomy, eight chemotherapy treatments, and a 30-day radiation treatment, she has since been in remission.

Harm’s CD is not only a blend of poetry and music but also of people.  It uses four distinct voices to convey the message of hope, courage, strength, and love.  And all the people involved have some way been affected by cancer.

“The CD has four readers,” Harm said.  “We’ll start with myself.  I am the only male voice on Purple Power.  As a spouse of a survivor, my voice represents a symbol of strength and support.  Another reader is my wife Betty.  She is the voice of a survivor.  Kind of frail and weak, her voice shows how we keep moving forward with courage.  The other two readers are young ladies.  I met Ashlee Dickinson a few years back and I talked about her family in my first book, Damaged Merchandise.  She was a little nervous to start but after she took a few deep breaths she did fine.  I still chuckle when I think of her first reading.  She took a two minute poem and read it in 20 seconds.  Ashlee has lost family members to cancer and hers is the voice of uncertainty.  And finally, is my step-daughter, Lisa Engelman.  Representing the child of a survivor, her voice is one of hope.  Lisa is a natural behind a microphone.  She did a fantastic job! She was the star of the show.  So there you have it; a spouse of a survivor, a child of a survivor, someone who has lost family members to cancer, and a survivor.  Ranging in age from 17 to 50 it symbolizes how cancer doesn’t attack just the young or old, nor male or female.”

Harm said even though they were just reading, they still made mistakes. Recording the CD, which runs 40 minutes, took about six and a half hours.  The CD, which was recorded in Lincoln, took close to 100 hours and more than 500 miles of driving back and forth to Lincoln to complete.

According to Harm, all of his poetry is inspired by actual experience.  “There’s nothing fantasy or made up.”

“The goal from day one on this project is that years from now nobody who would listen to this CD would know what it means, that cancer has been eliminated,” Harm said.  Harm said proceeds from the CD sales will go to the Relay For Life, with Jefferson County sales going to the Jefferson County Relay and Gage County sales going to the Gage County Relay.

So why the name “Purple Power”?  “At a relay event everyone is wearing a T-shirt showing their participation in this event”, Harm said.  “There are a variety of colors for the shirts, but it’s always easy to see the survivors, their shirts are always purple.  Then to watch that first lap – the survivor’s lap - is pure power.  Hence, Purple Power.”

The CDs, which sell for $10, have returned positive reviews to Harm.

“I bought one of your Purple Power CDs on Saturday at the Relay kick-off and just got done listening to it.  What a beautiful CD! My husband was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins in September 2001 and died in October 2005.  It was four years of fighting but sadly, God needed him more.  When listening to the CD it brought tears just thinking about all we went through also.  The CD expresses the fears, hopes, emotions, etc., of all cancer patients and their families.  Thank you for putting all of them into words.  The music added, fit the emotion.  What a beautiful combination.  I hope the CDs will sell, once people listen to it I can’t imagine them not selling.  I’m glad your wife is doing well and I pray that she continues to have good check-ups.” – Corinne Koch, Beatrice

The CDs are available at Beatrice Bakery, Blue Rose Antiques, Git ‘N Split, TY’s Tobacco Corner and Pro Auto Tune in Beatrice and Diller Telephone, Diode Cable, and C&C Food Mart in Diller.  Copies can also be purchased through Harm’s website,

Article from the Fairbury Journal News by Vicki Check - 12 MARCH 2008

Poet Pumped Up On Purple Power

Dave Harm puts poetry to music as a fundraiser for Relay For Life.  For Dave Harm of Diller, the ultimate goal behind Purple Power is that one day nobody will know what any of the poems are about.  Purple Power is a CD collection of 12 of Harm’s poems about cancer set to music.  The proceeds from sales of the CD’s will go to the Gage County and Jefferson County Relay For Life organizations.

“All the poems on this CD were inspired by Betty’s having cancer,” Harm said.  In 2000, Betty Harm, Dave’s wife, was diagnosed with Stage III breast cancer.  After a modified radical mastectomy, eight chemotherapy treatments, and a 30-day radiation treatment, she has since been in remission.  “The goal from day one on this project is that years from now nobody who would listen to this CD would know what it means, that cancer has been eliminated,” Harm said.

The CD’s are available at Beatrice Bakery, Blue Rose Antiques, Git ‘N Split, TY’s Tobacco corner and Pro Auto Tune in Beatrice and Diller Telephone, Diode Cable, and C & C Food Mart in Diller.  Copies can also be purchased through Harm’s website,

Harm said proceeds from the CD sales will go to the Relay for Life, with Jefferson County sales going to the Jefferson County Relay and Gage County sales going to the Gage County Relay.  In addition, for Relay teams looking for a fundraiser, he said the CDs are available at a discount.

Harm said the idea of putting some of his poems to music started four or five years ago.   “I got a CD in the mail from a band in New Hampshire,” he said.  “They said they liked my poetry on the Internet and were interested and they were interested in creating a song from one of them.”  From there, Harm said he thought it would be fun to find more bands interested in turning more of his poems into songs, but that project wasn’t meant to be.

Then last year while surfing on the Internet, he found a site with royalty-free music composed by Kevin MacLeod.  He contacted the composer, told him about the idea for the project and got the OK to use the music.  From there, Harm said he spent 30-40 hours listening to hundreds of MacLeod’s songs trying to find the ones that felt right for this project.  “I wanted the music to be spiritual, reflective, and meditative, and to have some kind of meaning to it by itself,” he said.

Harm said he found 12 he really liked, and then went back through all the poems he had written to choose 12 to include.  Then it was a matter of matching the poems and songs and figuring out how to space out the reading of the poems to fit with the music, a process that probably took another 30 hours, he said.

Harm said the next step was getting it recorded, which was done at Platinum Recording Studio in Lincoln.   “I had never been in a studio before,” he said.  “It was very time consuming.”  Harm said even though they were just reading, they still made mistakes.  Recording the CD, which runs 40 minutes, took about six and a half hours.

With all that, and finding a company to produce 1,000 copies, he said the total project took close to 100 hours and more than 500 miles of driving back and forth to Lincoln to complete.  “It was a lot more work than I thought, but it was enjoyable work,” Harm said.

All Harm’s poetry is inspired by actual experience, he said.   “There’s nothing fantasy or made up,” Harm said.

He said he got more into it in 1996 and began sending poems that were included in the Poet’s Pen column in the Beatrice Daily-Sun.  Harm has since had two books published, was named a United States Poetry Ambassador in 2006 and writes the weekly poetry column The Poets Quill that appears in the Daily-Sun.

 Article from the Beatrice Daily-Sun by Bill Hafer - 16 FEB 2008

Symbolic Support

Cancer is a family affair - that's the realization Dave Harm made three days after Christmas in 1999, when his wife, Betty, was diagnosed with breast cancer. "Cancer affects the whole family," he said. "The whole family gets cancer. So, this year, the whole Harm family is also fighting it. Harm, through "Dave's Dare," is giving up one inch of his "pride and joy," which is his 12-inch long hair that hasn't been cut since his wife began chemotherapy, for every $100 he can get people to contribute through the family in their fight against cancer.

Their daughter, 12 year old Lisa, began last weekend going door to door collecting money to fight cancer and cut Harm's hair, while Mrs. Harm will do the actual cutting at the sixth annual Gage County Relay For Life. The Relay For Life will be held from 6PM-8AM on Friday and Saturday. This year's American Cancer Society fundraising event carries the theme "Racing for a Cure." The theme this year for the Harm family is hair, because Harm remembers when his wife's hair fell out as a result of the chemotherapy.

"The chemo doctor told her that in 13 or 14 days she would lose all her hair," he said, "so we thought it would be a gradual process. But after 13 days it all fell out at once. That really brought it home. It's real." That was the last time Harm had his hair cut. "When my wife lost her hair, that was the last time I cut mine. It was symbolic support," he said. Mrs. Harm had eight chemotherapy treatments three weeks apart back in those uncertain days.

"After the chemo, the first week she'd be violently ill. Then the second week would be better, but then by the third week, when she had to do it all over again, she was almost in tears. She knew what was going to happen," her husband said. By the seventh or eight treatment she had no hair left on her body," he said, "but then about a month after that, she had to shave her legs. That was the ultimate high! We felt we'd really turned the corner." Mrs. Harm has been in remission for three years, but the Harms have been fighting cancer ever since the original diagnosis. And daughter Lisa is also getting involved. "She felt left out," Harm said, "and decided she would go door-to-door to help. She's got me two and a quarter inches ($225)." Helping feels good, Lisa said. "I like that I'm helping people by getting donations to people that need the help," she said. The Harms said help is important when families are struggling with cancer.

"The message is, don't refuse help," Harm said. "Grandma's (Bake Shoppe, Harm's employer) was very helpful. It brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it." Dave's coworkers had their own weekly food drives, and included items such as detergent and toilet paper, and even vouchers for gas for Mrs. Harm's frequent trips to Lincoln doctors.

Sue Bauer, human resources manager at Grandma's, said their employees were happy to help.

"It's something we've lived with along with him," she said, "and we appreciate the outpouring of feelings the employees had for him, his wife, and his whole family."

Bauer said Grandma's employees are donating to Dave's fundraiser and the company itself will be making a donation this week.

That should put him very close to his goal of raising $1,200, she said.

Mrs. Harm had to quit her job and was off work for more than 10 months as a result of the cancer, which put a lot of financial stress on the family and eventually led to her taking a new position at the Beatrice Good Samaritan Center.

"The football moms threw a benefit to raise money," Harm said. "There comes a point where you have to swallow your pride and let people help."

Harm said their pharmacist, their doctor, his employer, their bank, their small town, "everybody worked with us."

"At times, you take people for granted. Not after something like this,"he said.

Mrs. Harm said education about cancer is also important.

"One thing that helped us more than anything, was we did a lot of research. We knew what we were walking into, and knew what the outcomes could be," Mrs.Harm said.

She also said she feels lucky she got into a research study.

"She's doing it for some victim who does not have cancer (yet)," her husband said about participating in the study.

"For past, present, and future survivors. They'll have data from Betty and people all over," he said.

That study is being conducted by the American Cancer Society, and Mrs. Harm got involved in it through her Lincoln doctor.

Harm still needs about $600 to cut off all his hair, and hopes to raise it by the April 30 deadline.

Mrs. Harm will cut her husband's hair on Friday night at the Gage County Relay For Life, and the hair will be donated to "Locks of Love," a group that uses the hair to make wigs for children in chemotherapy.

"She trusted me when she was ill," Harm said. "The least I can do is to trust her to cut my hair. I might be going to the barber Saturday morning, though."

Article from the Beatrice Daily-Sun by Richard Kujath - 29 April 2003

Friday, 14 June 2019

Never Forget Your Dreams

Dave Harm's story isn't one of fame and good fortune. It's a story of survival, recovery, dreams and lots of faith.

Born and raised by alcoholic parents in Englewood, New Jersey, Dave himself became an alcohol and drug addict, using anything and everything to avoid pain. In 1986 he began writing. Binder after binder was filled with stories, journals, nightmares and dreams. At the time his goal was to simply record the events of his life, both good and bad, for his kids. He had dreams of someday publishing some of his work. Before Dave met his wife, Betty, he never dreamed his pen and paper would include poetry.

Over the years Dave has always enjoyed making a gift for someone, whether he built it out of wood, painted a picture, or wrote a poem.

In his early days of writing poetry, Dave submitted his work to the Beatrice Daily-Sun's Poet's Pen, under the pen name of Toby Tyler. Why use a pen name? Dave explains for several reasons. First, because he still wasn't sure his writing was that creative and if it was given a bad review, no one would know it was him. Second, some of his poems dealt with abuse; being new to the town of Diller he didn't want people to be bombarded with stories of his past. He wanted his reputation in the community to speak for itself. He wanted others to know that he had come a long way in life. And lastly, writing is a way for Dave to speak his mind. Through recovery, Dave relived his worst nightmares. When they left, he remembered his dreams - dreams that were built on the hope for a better tomorrow.

Dave's published books include Damaged Merchandise, and War Zone, Backing Out of Hell, which is currently in the pre-production stage. He's also started on his third book. He works with PublishAmerica Company out of Frederick, Maryland. The company specializes in publishing books written by people who have overcome major trials in their life. There is no publishing fee required other than a $30 charge for copyright to the Library of Congress. Ten percent of his royalties from his book Damaged Merchandise will go to the UNO-Lied Transplant Center, in honor of his granddaughter, Jaycie, who received a liver transplant when she was only 6 months old.

Having a book published is certainly a dream come true for Dave, but ultimately he hopes his books will help someone suffering from addiction and will serve as an example of what you can accomplish when you overcome addiction.

In addition to never believing he'd ever publish a book, Dave never dreamed he'd have to see his wife suffer the effects of breast cancer. Throughout her many surgeries, chemo treatments and times of trial, Dave stood by Betty's side, often writing his thoughts and poems down as he sat in hospital waiting rooms. Dave recalls the first round of Betty's chemo treatments when doctors told her she'd totally lose her long, red hair in 14 days. On the 13th day her hair all fell out at once.

The Harm's are both involved in the American Cancer Society's Relay For Life events which are typically held in the spring and summer months. In 2003, Dave issued a challenge to family and friends in order to raise funds for the American Cancer Society. At that time he had long hair, but he pledged to cut one-inch off for every $100 he raised. It was his wife Betty who whacked off the first inch and the remaining 13 inches came soon after during the Relay For Life event held at the Gage County Fairgrounds. This year's event will be held April 29-30 in Beatrice at the fairgrounds.

Dave has written numerous poems which have been read during the Relay For Life. A copy of the poem he wrote for this year's event is included in this article. He dreams of someday having his poems turned into music and recorded on CD's with all proceeds benefiting the American Cancer Society.

When he's not busy at the computer putting down his thoughts and dreams, Dave works full-time at the Beatrice Bakery Company. Dave and Betty make their home in Diller, Nebraska. They have four children, and granddaughter Jaycie is their pride and joy.

Dave's work has been included in the 2005 Marquis Who's Who in America and his poem Where you From? was chosen to be included in the American Poet Society's Anthology book entitled Expressions.

Article from Electric News Magazine of Nebraska by Susan Barnard April 2005