Ray Whitaker (Western Voices 2023)

Bio: Ray has been writing both prose and poetry since he was seventeen. What Ray is writing now is very different from what he wrote those so many years ago Ray has read around the state of North Carolina [USA] and Colorado [USA], and has been a member of the North Carolina Poetry Society, the Winston-Salem Writers, and The North Carolina Writer’s Network. He has thrice been a ‘Writer-in-Residence” at the North Carolina Center For The Arts and Humanities, at Weymouth, in Southern Pines, NC. He is the father of two daughters, and lives in Colorado Springs, USA. Some of his work has been published in online American, Irish, English, Belgium, Pakistani, and Bali Literary Journals. He was a Delegate in the prestigious 2023 Panorama Writers International Literary Festival in January.


My Father did not plant fruit trees
or a garden with any sort of vegetable, 
like a tomato plant, or peppers.

It was I that planted, harvested all of that.

His example did not lodge with me
never having flown down from the sky
wrapped in a fighter plane

machine guns blazing towards a ground confined enemy
they there, trembling in fear, hiding from
his bullets and bombs thrown while in God’s bubble.

I loved him so, yet my path differed

the healing arts chose me as sure as water churns in rapids
born unafraid of cleaning up lacerations, wiping blood from torn flesh
when someone’s life was seeping away

staunching the flow 
with giving a damn ever present, it was
acceptable risk to be in combat with purulent infection.

He was a great man even having never planted a plum tree

his bravery and deciding loving family decisions made
did lodge with me, so it is now that he is gone
as it was when he, my best friend, was still here amongst us

his courage tempered my abundant compassion
like the wind rippling the fall colors 
in an autumn high plains field.

I can’t fly a fighter plane
or command a tactical sortie in dive bombing a bridge

I have come home with blood on my scrubs tho
bearing stains from other’s wounds, having worked
like a mule plowing furrows, towards healing Life’s casualties

and I have planted plum trees, some were for him
his face peering out from the green leaves.
feeling his hands on the shovel with mine.

Like the aloe plant
who’s medicinal workings you always knew
yet mostly ignored ‘cause of Big Pharma

like the love in your hound’s eyes
when it looks at you      it is undefined, and unlimited
where did it come from

like the picture of Carl Sandberg’s writing studio
this is his place designed for pure creativity      where
is it, somehere on his desk, or near the woodstove

like a fence seperating the yards
this is mine   and over there is yours
flying in the face of a culture that has no word for ownership

fishing for a word to apply
hunting to get the meat from it
to cook in the big green Le Creuset boiler

to serve up
to others as
acknowledging their consequense, their significance

the kitchen fills 
with the odors of onions, and asparagus
someone needs to call us to dinner.


  1. Enjoy the wildness of these!

    1. Thank you, and I am glad you enjoy these two poems!


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