Poems by Harold Hopkins
In Memory of His Son Lance

~Poems by Harold Hopkins











I thought I might share a few more writings inspired by Lance. I've always felt that what I was writing was so personal that others might not find the same meanings in my work, but it seems that I have no corner on grief and that others know exactly where I'm coming from. So perhaps these will speak to others as well. I'd like to explain these poems a little. 

The first one - "Where Are You?" - is one I wrote very recently while in the midst of "one of those days." 

The second one - "Tomorrow and Tomorrow" - was written the night after we had found out that Lance had cerebral palsy. 

The third one - "Dancing Upon the Hill" - was a curious one. I was staying with Lance one night about a month before his passing and couldn't read, watch TV, anything; just very restless. I sat in silence for awhile and began to chase these words in my head. I tried to capture them on paper. I couldn't really figure out what it really meant. At the time we thought (or at least I thought) that Lance would beat this latest crisis just like he had so many others. I put the poem away and didn't think of it again until the morning of Lance's death. I retrieved the poem and it seemed so much that he was speaking to me and all of us in those words. The minister read this poem at Lance's memorial service and it seemed very appropriate. 

Writing has been my salvation this past year; it keeps me sane. 

Thanks, Harold Hopkins 


I looked at you the night of your birth
and you were a promise,
a bud waiting to open, 
to flower into this world with hope
and vision and new ideas.

You held in those tightly clenched fists
my wish that you would be better than I,
that you would conquer with better weapons
the ills thrown to you by the world
and emerge scarred, but a victor.

Tonight I look at you asleep in your crib
After learning of the damage to your body,
and you are still a bud waiting to open 
and freshen us with your hope, your vision, your ideas.

Somewhere inside, I accept the enormity of your problem,
and yet, not mistakenly I believe, I sense in you
a spark that will not allow this insult
to stifle the gifts carried within you
or hold back the promise you possess.

Even if tomorrow should somehow betray
the hopes in my heart this night,
I gladly take comfort in the thought
that a bud half-opened is surely
No less precious than the flower.

I hope you will be heartened someday to know
that all who love you are fully committed
to your journey into all the tomorrows; 
step by step and goal by goal
however long that journey may take.

So sleep tonight in peace, my son.
You are no less precious and wonderful now 
than you were before we knew 
the mountains you would have to climb
and morning will soon be calling.

In loving memory of Lance Porter Hopkins
July 20, 1975 - November 30, 1999
Written originally in April 1976, ÓHarold Hopkins, November, 2000

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Father, You have gifted me
with the wondrous spark of life,
and I have sheltered it.

I have tucked it in 
away from the wind and rain,
and kept it quiet and still 
where danger lurked.

Safety and security
became the sentinels
watching the heart's door
keeping out the unknown.

But today I have chosen to be free,
to release the sentinels,
throw back the windows of my heart
and cross every illusionary boundary.

I now face the risks,
look them in the eye and dare to let this divine spark
become in truth what it always was -
a flame, that by its burning, lives.

I am the flame, dancing upon the hill,
a holy beacon in the night,
cavorting with the wind, casting new shadows,
sparkling with elation, embracing the rain.

I flicker in the eyes of the Gypsies
who circle the impetuous glow
in head-back, arms-akimbo abandon,
laughing in the joy of now.

I release and let the leaping flame
burn away every fear and doubt,
and suddenly I know that I am the night 
and the wind and the stars.

I am the searchers of the world 
and the children with wondering eyes. 
I am the trees and the mountains
and the stream that moves through all.

I am light and morning,
peace and love,
hope and joy, 
wonder and elation.

I am brother to all things
and they are all
a part me
without walls.

In loving memory of Lance Porter Hopkins 
July 20, 1975 - November 30, 1999
ÓHarold Hopkins, October 1999

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I missed you yesterday 
and looked for you
among the artifacts of your life - 
your room with pictures,
the clothes that still carried your scent, 
your favorite tools and books, 
the tapes you loved to hear.

The very walls echoed your vitality
and carried faint memories of riotous laughter. 
And so I sat there, comforted for a while,
but forced at last to confess
that although beautiful memories lingered 
you were not there,
not then and not ever again.

If I could not find you yesterday, 
where, then, can I look today?
Who can I talk to, implore, beg 
to show me the way? 
Where are the hidden doorways 
to the signs and wonders 
others claim to see? 

My musings bring no answers
so I take a walk to clear my mind. 
Ahead, I see children playing,
and their laughter floating on the wind 
reminds me of your own carefree approach to life.
Their running mirrors your own abandon
and the way you always found joy in simple things.

Can this be the answer 
to the riddle of finding you again? 
Can it be that I will hear you
in every moment of laughter? 
That I will see you
in the actions of a mischievous friend,
that I will feel you in every touch of compassion?

I've always heard
that if you seek, you will find. 
Perhaps the corollary to that is that
you must seek in the right places.
I've been looking in the scrapbook
of all that used to be
and found only momentary solace.

So let me look for you anew
in all the wonders and blessings of life
. I believe you are reflected
there with every expression of happiness and joy, 
in every instance of fearless expl
oration and with every act of unconditional love.

In loving memory of Lance Porter Hopkins
July 20, 1975 - November 30, 1999 
ÓHarold Hopkins, January, 2001

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My heart remembers with gladness
How, when you were small, 
You reached out as I held you, 
Placed your hand upon my face
And smiled.

I envision you now 
Resting in the arms of God, 
Reaching out to place 
Your hand upon His face 
And smiling in peace.

Possessed by this vision, 
I feel your presence 
Moving softly in my mind, 
Floating somewhere beyond the field
Of knowing, and I wonder . . . . .

Is that you moving on the wind, 
Soaring with the hawks? 
Can you be the gentle ray of light 
Painting the ethereal sky
And gilding the falling leaf? 

It does not seem possible 
That all the world's not lonely,
Or that life continues in such eternal sameness
Without everyone stopping to seek and wonder 
And long for you.

As for me, I'll always be listening 
And watching for you
In the uncounted sounds and sights of life,
And bless your memory at the briefest glimpse 
Or slightest call of love to love.

In loving memory of Lance Porter Hopkins 
July 20, 1975 - November 30, 1999 
ÓHarold Hopkins, December, 1999

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If I could part the veil 
Between this world and the next, 
I know I would find him, 
Running in wild abandon 
Down the shining lanes of glory.

Loosed at last from earth's confinements 
And a body that would not obey, 
He would run with lengthening stride, 
Looking back with flying hair
And flashing a sly grin of ecstasy.

On and on he'd pound
Using every muscle, every fiber of being
In celebration of this total freedom, 
Exultant in the twist and turn of feet 
And the synchronous movement of churning arms.

As in life, others would see and follow 
This shining youth, this joyous Son of God.
And we who watched would swell with pride, 
Shouting, "Go! Go! Press on, endure! Run, Lance, Run!"

In loving memory of Lance Porter Hopkins 
July 20, 1975 - November 30, 1999 
ÓHarold G. Hopkins, January, 2000 

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Your life was like a leaf
That just burst forth one day from a bud. 
You drew in the sunlight and air 
And breathed out in shimmering wonder.

You held on through Spring storms 
And endured the force of Summer heat. 
You fulfilled your purpose in Fall,
Parading the most colorful parts 
Of your spirit before a wondering world.

And even when Winter came 
You clung bravely to the limb 
That had nourished you 
Through increasing wind and cold.

But one day, at just the right moment, 
You released your hold and drifted 
In a majestic spiral toward that which called. 
And left floating on the wind a message:
"I am not alone or scared or sad, 
For I will see you again in Spring."

In loving memory of Lance Porter Hopkins
July 20, 1975 - November 30, 1999
ÓHarold G. Hopkins, January, 2000

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I marvel anew, Father, 
At the infinite wonder of your world 
When I heed the calling of the night
And go down once more to the sea.

The sand, the sky, the murmuring surf 
And gleeful children running to and fro 
Remind of a packed away past 
And bring visions of an undreamt future.

Amazed, I look about me and see 
A blurring of shape and form. 
Sand becomes sea becomes fish 
Becomes gull becomes wind.

This cycle of life playing itself out 
Before my wondering eyes 
Proclaims the oneness of all
And the truth that nothing ever ends.

Let me remember this day, Father, 
When I weep over absences that seem forever 
And dread the emptiness lying ahead. 
Let me recall that the gift of unending life
And an unquenchable sea of love 
Are the only realities of our time here.

I rejoice anew in the thrill of remembering 
That those who seem gone can never be lost to us. 
They safely await on a distant shore 
And the message I hear on the wind is not fear, 
But loving Spirit reaching out 
To open the shining door of tomorrow.

In loving memory of Lance Porter Hopkins 
July 20, 1975 - November 30, 1999
ÓHarold G. Hopkins, July, 2000 

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I sit down to read 
But feel my eyes begin to fill with tears 
As unknown music penetrates my mind. 
A melody begins softly 
And then builds and soars 
Wrapping itself around my feet 
And climbing into my heart.

I let myself go 
Release all bonds of will 
And float with the mysterious song.
I see, with Spirit eyes,
The stream of music moving out 
My window and flowing toward the sky.

I reach out with anxious arms
To grasp the aerial symphony in my hands 
And, like a grasshopper on a leaf, 
Secure a hold and float away 
Beyond the squeeze of grief 
That will not let me go.

Soaring, I am so high above 
This world and all its diversions,
Rising with the passion of the song 
Into a realm I had not dreamt of 
Where up is not up and down is not down 
And everything is forever.

Freed, at last I loose my hold 
Upon the pain and numbing sorrow 
Choking my mind, my heart, my soul, 
And watch it float away in perfect rhythm 
With the moving baton of peace.

In loving memory of Lance Porter Hopkins 
July 20, 1975 - November 30, 1999 
ÓHarold G. Hopkins, November, 2000

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Your life was an embodiment of joy
expressing itself to the world
in countless moments of lightness,
despite all the indicators
of your brief existence
that pointed toward a logic 
of despair and frustration.

I’ve often wondered
about the source of the light
that poured from your eyes 
and danced merrily upon your lips.
Your focus was obviously not on limitations,
for your spirit surged from every opening
into a bright world of possibilities.

Barriers were no more to you than doors
and you understood you could close
any not fitting the world in your mind
and open others that thrilled and delighted.
Yours was a state of transcending choices
that never allowed transitory disappointments
to exercise control over who you really were.

You were a constant wonder,
one of the creator’s finest works;
a perfect blend of joy and passion,
coalesced into a towering, wondrous spirit
 that, despite the condition of your earthly body,
soared and looped and danced on air,
and personified the overcoming power of love.

Saying you changed us is classically inadequate
to the truth of your moments in our midst.
No one who knew you within your life’s boundaries 
will ever be the same; could ever possibly be the same.
We were touched and changed at a fundamental level,
dared by love to search for beginnings in every apparent end
and see that existence is more, so much more, than it seems.

In loving memory of Lance Porter Hopkins
July 20, 1975 to November 30, 1999
Copyright © Harold Hopkins, May 2001.  All rights reserved.

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You defined through your attitude
the bright world you saw beckoning.
As our guide, you steadfastly refused
to go on or leave us lagging behind
and led us, tho’ unknowing and blind,
into a new and wondrous territory.

How we miss your exuberant spirit now,
your shining in the deepest darkness,
and how we miss your helpless laughter
that lifted and would never permit
sadness to gain the barest toehold
or keep us from the ecstasy of hope.

Hope pulled us through the tough times,
buoyed our spirits and lifted our hearts.
With your help, we thumbed our noses at fate
and ignored all the ‘should-have-beens’.
We marched on, never looking back or ahead
and stumbled upon an oasis in the desert.

If we could do all that while you were here,
surely we can keep the flame burning
in the oppressive stillness of your absence.
Surely we can hope again and trust again,
turn back the persistent encroachment of night
and laugh out loud at the illusion of separation.

You are here with us, we feel it
with every ounce of intellect and soul,
a faint image on the periphery of knowing.
And someday, when we focus with all our hearts
and lay down the limits of what we think we know,
you will emerge, exultant, from the mist.

“Love is forever,” you’ll cry out,
and we’ll believe because our hearts agree
that nothing could possibly sever
the bond of love and hope we share.
Love heals and reaches across the universe
to fashion unity wherever we may be.

In loving memory of Lance Porter Hopkins, Jul 20, 1975 – November 30, 1999
Copyright © Harold G. Hopkins, April, 2001.  All Rights Reserved.

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