This Memorial Day weekend seems the perfect time to revisit H. Palmer Hall’s “New Names,” a poem first published in Volume I, Number 2 (Spring/Summer 2000) of Valparaiso Poetry Review and which also was once a “Poem of the Week” selection of “One Poet’s Notes.” In addition to his poetry, VPR has been pleased to present some of his prose pieces, including “Why I Still Write About the War” in Volume V, Number 1 (Fall/Winter 2003-2004), which will be among the essays in Hall’s forthcoming book, Coming to Terms (Plain View Press). Other recent books by Hall are Reflections on Publishing, Writing and Other Things (2003) and Deep Thicket and Still Waters (1999). His poems, essays, and stories have appeared in various literary reviews and anthologies, such as Ascent, Briar Cliff Review, Florida Review, North American Review, and Texas Review. He will contribute an article on John Balaban in the upcoming issue of VPR this fall. Hall is the library director at St. Mary’s University, where he also teaches English.
for Pat Valdata
Cherry blossoms blow along the ground
and green buds promise leaves to come,
closed walkways send us west and nothing’s
mirrored in the murky pond.
She notes that gulls soar much as she does
when the clouds build just this way.
She paces me, stride for stride, sees
mallards, heads buried in the slime.
She seems entranced with winged things.
Here, the cherries blossom still—a little
north and east of where we stand.
The path leads down beside a polished wall
that sprouts the names of one war’s dead.
New faces blossom, new letters grow
from black wings struggling to rise, but
anchored in the hill and in our minds.
New names to link old remains—men
and women who will not grow old.
The wings reflect, although the pond does not,
cherry blossoms in the April sun.