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Friday, July 8, 2011


Photo by Jennifer Singleton—
borrowed from www.john.henry.org
with thanks to Kathleen Conklin

FarmWife, who runs a business selling commissioned poetry, wrote this in memory of the great John Henry. Kathleen, his human, has accepted the gift of these words and I hope she won't mind us sharing them here. Rest in peace, my friend. 



John Henry

Beloved? That's not good enough. 
A friend? The word's a shadow. 
There is not language strong enough.
All phrases feel too shallow. 
John Henry, indescribable—
John Henry, so adored—
These words may scratch the surface,
But his life was so much more. 

Charisma? Yes, he had it.
Charm, intelligence? Those too.
He was an athlete and a star,
A brave and soulful mule.
He made inroads where none had gone.
He forged his path, and yes—
he stole one heart completely 
and he made a thousand friends. 

There are no words. There is no way.
And yet a poet tries . . . 
What phrases, put together, 
catch the kindness in his eye? 
What words speak to his patience,
to his presence, to his smarts? 
What words explain the magic,
How he touched so many hearts? 

John Henry was the kind of mule
a person can't forget—
And so, although he's lost to us, 
His legend lives on yet. 
And if God has a pasture
Where his finest equines play,
Then there, upon those golden hills,
rings sweet John Henry's bray. 


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