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Hal Wingard—Poems to Eileen
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2005 blog


Hal Wingard's birthday gift to Eileen
is one which all of us can share, March 3, 2005

By Donald H. Harrison

On her recent 75th birthday, Eileen Wingard of San Diego received from her husband Hal a booklet of 37 poems that he had written to and about her since 1977.

In his continuing love song for Eileen, to whom he now has been married 50 years, Hal accompanies most of his poems on his guitar—so I guess they should be called lyrics.

He named the 47-page booklet "The Two Dollar Diamond" after a gift he once bought for her to lift her spirits.  "I wanted something special—/rich and really nice—/a thing of lasting value at/ an inexpensive price."  I think with this booklet, he came home with an even better bargain.

Some of the poems are romantic, some speak of the couple's physical attraction for each other, some nostalgically review their travels together, some express the irritation that all married couples occasionally feel with each other, and other poems address some of their enduring values.  The collection is but a tiny portion of Hal's output, which his friends long have been begging him to publish formally.

Three of the copyrighted poems in Hal's booklet touched Jewish themes.  He wrote "Ruth's Song" following a Jewish Marriage Encounter session" in December 1979.  "Special Days," comparing the day he met Eileen to more mundane days in history, was written almost exactly five years later. 

Noting that Eileen had shared "life's storm with me," Hal dedicated "Makhtesh Ramon" to her in 1997. With a salute to Hal—and to the woman and accomplished violinist who inspires him—I happily reprint three of these poems, with the plea that Hal write and publish more of them.

I.  Ruth's Song


Wherever you go I will always go with you
Your land and people are my land and people, too

   Naomi, how I miss your son
   My husband, in the grave!
   Where's the fam'ly warmth I need,
   The kinship that I crave?


   Not here in Moab's bitter land
   That drowns in tears I shed.
   My homeland is no home for me
Now my husband's dead.


   So, as you leave for Bethlehem
   Returning to your land
   I will share your people's fate...
Naomi, take my hand.


II  Special Days

   Special days are many; I'll tell you a few.
   Yet none can hold a candle to the day when I met you..


      Can't compare in any way,
      Can't surpass that special day
When I...discovered you.

   The day that ancient Buddha discovered Peking duck...
   The day that Lady Fortune dreamed up gambler's luck...
   The day that William Shakespeare invented words that rhyme.
The day that Timex watches wound up telling time...


    The day that Cinderella rode a pumpkin to the ball...
    The day Sir Isaac Newton saw that apples fall...
    The day that brother Orville competed with a bird...
The day that God and Moses exchanged a friendly word...


    Sigmund Freud discovered that life is not complex....
    That all our motivation is simply based on sex.
    Christopher Columbus discovered quite a lot...
But real estate is nothing compared to what I got...


III Makhtesh Ramon

    A storm strikes Makhtesh Ramon
         With bullets of wind-driven rain
     And lances of lightning attacking
          The innocent, docile terrain.

    The Negev, surprised and out-powered,       
Succumbs without voicing complaint,
    Allowing the storming invasion
           To rampage devoid of restraint

    As water assaults the wadis,
          Dislodging both boulder and sand,
    The Negev, with quiet acceptance,
          Retains a firm hold on the land

   Then shortly, with storm force expended,
          All traces of rain quickly gone,
    The Negev, surviving through eons,
          Lives on at Makhtesh Ramon.
Lives on at Makhtesh Ramon.