In praise of Carl Russell

[Gilead Brook Road lost one of its premier Silverbacks recently with the passing of Carl Russell. Carl was a husband, a father, a farmer, a selectman, a friend … the list goes on … a teamster, a leader, a steward, and a poet. I don’t know anyone who appreciated his place on the planet as much as Carl. He will, literally, never leave the land he loves. SB SM]

Carl Russell




On a rock,

Floating through space.



Feeble earthly race.

Detecting every change,

Uncertainty so strange,

It’s hard to survive,

With so many needs,

And no guarantees,

Amid constant chaos.

Every breeze has a chill,

Every other beast has a quill,

Or shell, or fur, or claw.

The conditions are so raw,

Who wrote this law?

Like constant stabbing,

To be so aware,

Of inadequacy,

And dependency,

Is scary.

How can this rock sustain,

Or protect, or feed, or warm,

Such weakness.

Abandoned, forsaken,

To forage, and struggle,


On this lump of dirt,

To hide, and hurt,

From endless stimuli,

To skin, nose, ear, eye.

A cave, or a tree,

A den a-lea,

Or cleft in the rock,

Or a tent of skin,

Can protect within,

From external forces.

Structure, comfort,


Calms shaky nerves,

Allows for cached reserves,

And provides the strength,

To rise against,

The elements,

And limits,


Body is weak,

But not the brain.

Shut out the wind,

And sucking swamp.

Hide to deliberate,

And liberate.

Plot against,

With intelligence,

To disarm,

The Earthly pressures.

Shelter is temporary,

The need is not,

So weak and scared,

Fortress, Temple,

House, or palace,

Protect the precious,

Bodies and minds,

The values,

And assumptions.

Mocked at creation,

Left behind to suffer,

Yearning for reason,

Always challenged,

Given nothing,

This floating is no free ride.

Earth is enemy,

Predator, rival,

And adversary.

Shelter serves so nice,

Such a great device,

Leaving is relapse.

But such a great notion,

Can expand,

To shape the land,

And change nature,

Plant, and creature.

The needs,

For shelter lead,

To bigger ramparts,

Plans of force-fields,

Around cities,

Separating brothers,

Veiling pollution,

And denying destruction,

Because the disconnect,

That seemed so necessary,

Has worked too well.

There must be good,

In the art,

Of gathering,

And creating.

There is love,

That pulls it together,

To build the house,

That holds the home,

Where love can grow.

Home is love,

And love is confidence,

To leave,

With that knowing,

Carried like a shell,

To protect,

Without hiding.

Perhaps the point was not to hide,

Not to waste the senses inside,

Or pretend that nakedness,

And exposure,

Are weakness.

Truly vulnerable,

Is understanding,

Of connectedness,

To something beyond skin,

Or mind, or heart.

Naked is not lacking,

Naked is more.

More sensitivity,

More connectivity,

Pure awareness,

Of dependence,

On experience,

And knowledge,

Of limitations,

On this rock,

Is a trait so grand,

It is not weak,

Or meek,

But eminence.

Rather than run,

From the cold,

The wind,

Open to it,

Breathe in all it carries,

Learn it,

And Self.

Exercise the muscles,

Nerves and senses.

Allow knowing,

To break Self open,

To the vulnerable,

The naked,

The dependent,

Empowered by acceptance.

Partner with Earth,

Grow in the gift,

Of rawness,

That makes her ours,

To Shelter…..

By Carl B. Russell 2/10/14

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