Poems about Friends and Remembrances


A tall, lean figure of a man
Slow to anger
His family–his pride
A father of the 40’s and 50’s

Baseball, his passion
Hours spent playing catch
In the backyard
Score keeping his son’s games
And for years after
Trips to see the Indians
Lose another season
Cards and male friends
The Elks
A father of the 40’s and 50’s

A man I respected
A man I loved
One I strove to please
One who left an indelible mark on me
My father, a man of the 40's and 50's

Comments: I was privileged to grow up in a wonderful family–mother, father, and three sisters. In the past I have written about my mother and the extraordinary woman she is. However, my father has not received much mention though he played a critical role in shaping me. Since June is the month for Father's Day in the U.S., I thought that this poem was appropriate to share with my readers. The last line in the first two stanzas refers to a stereotypical image of fathers of that period. In many ways my father fit that stereotype. He set high expectations for me. Like many men of that era, he was hesitant, almost shy, to demonstrate his feelings toward his son. A handshake meant a job well-done. Only on his deathbed were we able to cross some of those boundaries. But, I never doubted the love he had for my sisters or me. Also, there was never any doubt about the woman he loved, my mother. Though Dad passed on in 1986, he lives in my memories and remains a wonderful, magnificent human being.


God creates special spirits to brighten the earth
....so that light can reign and joy be found.
Eighty-five years ago he created a Fairy
....to wanderer among us spreading love.
We are so proud to be her children and family.

Dearest Mother, on this very special day
Honoring the passing of eight decades
In what must seem like
“the twinkling of an eye.”
Let your son offer these words:

During your journey,
you left your loving marks on so many.
But most of all, you instilled within us,
By word
and deed
To look beyond self – to Love and Care.
To recognize God’s gifts.

For me, your son, those were
and are your greatest teachings.
For that, I will always be grateful.

So celebrate today and the life you have lived.
Revel in the many moments you still have to give.
Continue the journey till the course is spent
Knowing you walk in His Divine presence. 

Comments: The first is short poem given to Mom on her 85th. Her first name is Fairy, named by her father who upon first seeing her said, "There is my little fairy." The second are the ending stanzas to a very long poem that I gave to my mother on her 80th birthday. In the poem I reminisced about many events in our lives, some humorous and some not. My three sisters and I have remained close over the decades. Part of the reason is because of the way in which we were raised. Family and family allegiance were critical values instilled into us. In June, 2010, my mother turns 87.

.........A Good Man
One morning while in meditation
A question entered my mind
"Just what is a good man?"
Just as quietly, a name filled the void
Oh, Bernie is not a perfect man
He has his faults like us all
But good he is
Like the description of several trees
does not truly describe the forest
A description of his giving acts
does not truly define his goodness
I liked him from the start
Sorrow and pain now wrap their tentacles
around his massive frame
Both continue to hone his goodness
Causing him to rise higher than he thought capable
Revealing the inner mettle of his soul
I thanked God today for answering my question
For allowing me to know a good man
Comments: Bernie and I became friends several years ago while working together. Little did I realize that little over a year later he would battle cancer for the second time. This poem was shared with him in the midst of that battle. Even though I had left for a new job, we still remained in contact. We especially enjoyed sharing the joys and challenges regarding our individual journeys. Following what we thought was a successful second surgery, Bernie made his final transition in this lifetime. At the memorial service I learned much more about my friend. Primarily, I learned that indeed he was "A Good Man!"
Defining spirituality and godliness
is often in the eyes of the beholder.
Sometimes those talking continuously of God
walk a crooked mile.
Sometimes others, marching to nontraditional drummers,
walk hand-in-hand with the Spirit.
Only the Divine truly knows
who we are within.
But to the humble eye of this poet
Alan marches with his Creator.
On that fateful day sometime in the future,
Alan will be privileged to hear,
"Well-done, my good and faithful servant."
What greater reward can one have?
Comments: Alan was our association minister before moving to Western Pennsylvania. Over the last few years I was privileged to work with Alan on a variety of church matters. But more importantly, we became friends. Alan possesses many talents that God has chosen to use. As the poem states, Alan walks to his own drummer, the cadence being set by the Creator. I presented this poem to Alan on his departure, wishing him, 'God speed' in his new endeavors.
......James E. Magaw
Who is this person called James E. Magaw?
One who touches so many lives.
The world better because he journeys here.
So many roles he’s played in the Drama of Life.

To family, he is father, counselor, and rock of support.
With wife Bonnie, his life partner,
They’ve sailed the ship
Through times of sunshine, sublime, and stormy waters,
They steered and stayed the course.

To the church, Reverend Magaw is a pastor and church leader --
Willing to speak out on the unpopular;
A fighter for justice and equality;
A person who cares;

To friends, he is Jim, a man quick to laugh;
To offer his hand of support;
A talented writer and poet;
One who thinks deeply on the big issues.

Perhaps, most importantly, in his seven decades
The father, pastor, poet and friend has come to understand
One of the great spiritual truths.
“We are spiritual beings inhabiting physical bodies.”
And that has made all the difference.
Comments: This poem was written in honor of Jim's seventieth birthday. He has had quite a life making many contributions to the betterment of this world. He is also quite writer and poet in his own right. I am proud to call him a friend.

A Friend
through the Decades

A smile, a kind word
May birthday cards
Each arriving
at the opportune time.
Gifts freely bestowed.

Children huddled around –
squirming, wiggling
The teacher reaches out
offering knowledge
Touching with love.

All part of warm memories
From moments shared
and observed
Of friend Bonnie Magaw.
Comments: Like Jim's above, this poem was written for Bonnie on a very special birthday. Bonnie and I have known each other for many years. She is one of the kindness people you would ever meet. As a career educator, she touched many lives and continues to do so today.

A Brief Reunion

The pianist’s fingers move across the keys
At speeds the eyes can barely see.
Improv and Jazz describe the melodies.

As the notes dance across my mind,
My memory turns to a friend now gone.
And to an evening in New Orleans
Where we were enthralled by similar tunes.

The music continues to draw me away
Into a dimension, neither here nor there,
Where sounds and feelings do combine.
Where mystical unions can intertwine.

I smile – for my friend and I are together again.
Sitting side by side like that night long ago,
We laugh together as if never apart
Our fingers tap, tap, tapping to this musical art.

All too soon the pace slows and the surreal ends,
Our whimsical journey now complete.
Though I return to this world and he to his.
What joy it has been to be together again!
Comments: One spring evening, I attended a piano concert where most of the songs were jazz and improv. Part way through the concert I closed my eyes and allowed the music to carry me beyond self and my immediate location. My thoughts turned to a dear friend Bill who had passed on about ten years ago. Bill loved life and music like few others I have known. He was a character in a very positive sense of the word. For a few moments, I felt as if Bill had joined me again for the evening concert. In a sense, this enjoyable event was like two minds joining. Perhaps you have had a similar experience. I am proud to have had Bill McDonald as a friend.

Incidentally, to learn more about the outstanding musician Bradley Sowash who was able to perform such magic, go to



I clearly remember the spring day
.....when she first returned from Florida
.....after a three-year absence.
She fourteen and I, thirteen.
Never had I seen anyone so cute.
How I loathed the fact
.....that she was my first cousin.
My budding adolescence
.....could only dream otherwise.

Today, decades later
.....I attend her funeral.
Sadness fills my heart.
But my memory sees
.....the young girl gaily laughing.
Frozen forever in time.
Comments: In '03 I was deeply sadden when my cousin ravaged by cancer died. As I sat in the memorial service right behind her family, I continually thought of our youth; the time we spent; and the different journeys we took. Being a believer in the eternalness of the spirit, I felt joy for her. With that in mind, this poem becomes one of celebration.
Sharon at about 14 (taken from an old 46 year old Polaroid
Sharon (lf) taken a few months before her passing
Comments: Char and I first worked together professionally and over the years became friends. She is a woman of extraordinary talent. Don't be surprised if someday you hear her music on a CD. The picture was taken at Apple Computer where she enjoyed a few moments on The Grand.
Mom and Paul shortly after they were married

My Stepfather

Tom Brokaw calls them “The Greatest Generation,”
....those who fought against Hitler’s pillage.
If so, my stepfather Paul was such a man,
....having fought with his hero "Blood and Guts" Patton.
Together, they battled across North Africa and later at the Bulge.
Though the battle-hardened soldier spoke little of those times,
....when he did,
....he spoke kindly of the General
....who led by example.

My mother chose this handsome white-haired man
....late in both their lives.
....after my father's passing some five years before.
Strong of will and firm in beliefs
....describe Paul well.
Even in his late seventies,
....he could work those half his age into the ground.

Then one fateful day while sitting in church,
....the second home he so loved,
....he stood and gasped
....before collapsing to the floor.

The stroke rendered what no enemy bullet did,
....taking him beyond his loving wife’s reach.
She visited daily for six long years,
....talking as if he were still there.
Finally, one day this old soldier
....lost the battle
....but gained the victory.

As the military salute was fired,
....I smiled, with my hands upon Mom’s shoulders,
....and thought of Paul and the General –
....for they are again together.
Comments: At 88 years of age, Paul E. Pendleton returned to his Creator. We mourn his loss and celebrate his life.

A Ride for Harvey

Today, I ride for Harvey,
......my brother-in-law and friend.
In the 70's,
......I introduced him to cycling,
......to the joys of the air rushing against the face,
......following long downhill runs;
......the fatigue and second wind
......that pushes the body beyond normal endurance.
Like a new love, he embraced this sport with passion.
Despite the thirty plus years,
......it has not waned.
Today, he lies near death,
......from a biking accident
......along a country road not far from home.

Memories flood my mind
......of many rides shared,
......cycling Wisconsin with our young cousins,
......screaming down the hills of southern Indiana
......during the Hilly Hundred,
......or him waiting patiently
......as I finally reached the summit
......following a long mountain bike climb
......in Colorado.
Atop that majestic peak,
......we basked in the awe.

Now on much flatter terrain,
......my wheels crunch and crackle the fall seeds
......that cover the trail.
The wild yellow daisies are especially brilliant
......exemplifying the beauty that life offers.
Rows of eight-foot corn stalks stand guard,
......their silken tassels glistening and nodding
......allowing me to safely pass.
I marvel at creation and life's many turns.

Though my heart still aches for my friend
......and his family,
......this ride somehow cleanses the spirit,
......as I pray that Harvey will someday ride again.

Comments: This poem was written a few days after the accident when we were uncertain of his survival. But miracles do occur! Following over two weeks on life support, through his determination to live, along with his excellent physical condition, superb medical treatment, and many prayers, his condition began to improve rapidly. Within three weeks he was in physical therapy. While he still has awhile before he can again hop on his bike, we are thankful that this life's journey is not finished.

Notice the extra leg – the one on the right is a tandem
Stalks standing guard
Lined the trail by the hundreds
Jerry on his 75th

Three-quarters of a century,
......some say is a long time,
......for others, a mere speck in the eternal circle.
What say you, Jerry, Aussie poet and author?
Have the years passed quickly?
Your life has been full.
What stories you could tell,
......more than a few would bring a blush
......to maidens’ ears.
You have danced before the crowds
......and serenaded a sheila or two.
Remember the youthful island life,
......the joys and sorrows?
Mates have come along for the ride,
......blokes, such as Merv, still bring a smile
......to your lips.
Passions of every kind have flowed
......in your blood.
Your sense of justice can cause the face to flush
......by mere mention of George or Howard,
......while the poetry of Bruce Dawes
......tweaks your soul.
Alison, now there is a name
......that touches deep within.
Like many who reach your august age,
......hard labour can be a descriptor,
......likewise, wisdom from the journey.
You are who you have been
......but also what you will be.
Celebrate the years that have honed your being
......and enjoy the moments
......that will continue to evolve you.
Happy Birthday, dear Friend.

Comments: Fans of my newsletter have been reading comments by Jerry from Victoria, Australia since 2003. Due to the nature of this newsletter, many of his comments have been edited for a variety of reasons. Jerry is very passionate about certain topics. Nevertheless, I have thoroughly enjoyed our numerous email exchanges over the years. As you can guess from the poem, on January 4, Jerry celebrated his 75th. In his honor I sent him the above poetical effort. (It is being published here and on my site with his permission.) To assist with interpretation, "sheila" – a slang term for an Australian female; "hard labour" – a play on words for his latest book of the same title; "Alison" – his wife; "youthful island life"– references his childhood in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka); "dance before crowds" – as a public entertainer; "Merv" – a good friend about whom he wrote a guest vignette for us; and "George and Howard," – I will leave to your interpretation.

Poet and author, Jerry from Victoria, Australia


A friend died.
My heart weeps
And smiles
As I remember
Who he was
And the life led.

Comments: A very brief poem summarizing my feelings about a very complicated individual whom I was privileged to know. Forty lines could not say more than what is encapsulated in these. Rest in peace, good friend Henry Millward.

Taken from the Memorial Service Bulletin
Lovai, the Music Man

Though we only spoke a few words or two,
....I in admiration of his talent
....felt I knew him
....by his music.
He moved and swayed with passion,
....as his voice filled with joy, glorifying his Creator.
His hands were often raised in praise
....in exuberant reverence.
Though I only returned once yearly
....to his place of worship,
....I always was warmed to see his “shining” face
....in the Tongan choir.
By his countenance,
....one realized he walked the Way.
Today, I learned that he now sings
....in the Heavenly Choir,
....with his Savior’s hand upon his shoulder.
I like to believe Lovai
....heard these words upon his arrival
....to the Promised Land,
....“Well-done, my good and faithful servant.
....Eternity will be spent with me.
....Sing, Music Man, sing!”

Comments: I am sharing a poem I wrote about a beautiful man, Lovai, a member of the Lahaina Methodist Church Tongan Men's Choir. Lovai passed away in early February, which I learned about at the February 14th church service. I always enjoyed watching him sing because of his spirit and love of music and his God. I was so moved by his passing that I wrote the above poem about him and shared with his pastor. I was notified later that the poem appeared on the cover of his memorial service bulletin. I am deeply honored.

Front: Belinda and myself; Back: Patsy, Alan, and
Linday (1980)
Lindsay and Belinda at a London dinner we enjoyed (1997)

Death comes to all –
.....some more shocking than others.
Such was the email notification today
.....from the “Land of
.....the Long White Cloud.”
Lindsay had suddenly passed,
.....the aneurysm undiagnosed.
1997 is when we last met
.....at a London restaurant,
.....he and his sister Belinda.
And years earlier
.....when he arrived
.....at our Ohio home,
.....having traveled from California
.....in an ancient Cadillac
.....and a jacket that cost half as much.

Lindsay was a teenager
.....when our paths first crossed
.....in New Zealand.
He, Belinda, and brother Alan
.....along with their parents
.....would stay in our Ohio home
.....and we in theirs –
.....his father and I on a year long
.....Fulbright Exchange,
.....building ties between two countries.
We were all excited
.....about the adventures that lay ahead.

Over the decades
.....Lindsay became a man –
.....a father and businessman.
But for me,
.....he forever remains young,
.....a boy excited to visit America,
.....his whole life before him.

Comments: In life we meet individuals, some leaving greater impact than others.  Lindsay's impact was part of a life changing experience.  His father Barry and I participated in a Fulbright Teaching Exchange in the 80's.  (Two U.S. and two New Zealand educators were chosen.) During the exchange, lasting one day short of a year, we moved to Barry and Patsy's home and they to ours.  The three younger Gregg children, Lindsay, Alan, and Belinda, accompanied their parents to America.  Before departing we spent time with them.  They were so young, innocent, and excited about the venture.  Lindsay's untimely passing ripped part of that memory from my heart.

Taken from the farewell party bulletin
The Stuarts

Over a decade has passed
.....since Reverend Stuart, Cynthia, and family
.....entered our spiritual sphere.
The church was in disarray
.....in need of guidance
.....and leadership.
Within weeks,
.....the Reverend became Keith,
.....an indicator of his ministerial approach.
Each passing year
.....saw membership grow
.....and unity with diversity
.....became our credo.
Eloquence and research
.....always inherent within each sermon –
.....Biblical wisdom the foundation.
Over time, even the children sermons
.....had participants.
He moved from pastor
.....to trusted friend.

Cynthia walked the quiet mile,
.....stepping in as needed.
The Christmas Walk, vacation Bible school,
.....Sunday school leader,
.....you name it,
.....she filled those roles,
.....always there to offer
.....a helping hand.

Both wore the badge
.....of proud parents and rightly so.
Laura and Joseph
.....have honored them
.....with the lives they lead.

Our beloved minister and his wife
.....have chosen to move on
.....to new ventures and challenges.
Because they journeyed here
.....an indelible spiritual mark has been left
.....upon our church and more importantly
.....members’ lives.

With tears,
.....we wish them Godspeed and much happiness.
Be not surprised as their car departs Mt. Vernon,
.....if they hear a soft voice declaring,
.....“Well done, my good and faithful servants.”

Comments: The poem says it all about one of the greatest pastors I have known and his equally talented family. They served First Congregational United Church of Christ in Mt. Vernon, Ohio for over ten years before moving to northeast Ohio for another pastorate. In those years Keith spoke of the God he loved and in turn inspired us. Never in those years did I hear a sermon that wasn't of quality and inspiration. I cannot say that of any other pastor. He will be sorely missed.

Gopal arrives

Gopal is an avid photographer, traveling the world in search of the perfect picture.


An old friend Gopal
    is flying in for a two-hour visit.
I anxiously await
    as headwinds delay his arrival.
Over 40 years have passed
    since we cycled
    and practiced taekwondo together,
    thirty plus since last meeting.
We both have journeyed
    to the far corners of the globe.
Our paths different
    but also the same.
How has he physically changed?
I have grown a bit wider
    with less hair on top.
How will he look?
Whatever has happened physically,
    our bond remains.
Comment: I recognized him right away as he exited his small private plane. He had a slight limp from his multiple climbing and skiing accidents. As always, he has lived close to the edge. His laugh and indomitable spirit remained unchanged. We promised not to let thirty years pass until we meet again.


Over four years have passed
    since we shared a breakfast
    in our booth at V & M.
You moved and then I.
Sadly, over the months our calls diminished.
You would sometimes pop into my thoughts,
    and I would say,
    “I need to give Jim a call.”
Alas, time slipped away.

Now, I peer down
    on his earthly body
    realizing he will soon travel
    the inevitable journey.

Travel safely, Dear Friend.

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