Tag: Wisconsin Veterans

Poem And Photo From 2011

Last week was another year since my father died. He was a veteran, and then taught history.

after the storm . . .
glistening lake-waves
branches coated with ice
and a crow cawing

after the storm
driftwood washes to shore
from other places . . .
what we let go
what we keep

Karl took this photo on March 24, 2011. I wrote the poem the same day.

Lake Michigan
Oostburg, Wisconsin

Cold Weather

I am grateful for our home, heat, light, and the ability to make a cup of coffee and breakfast. Routine work around the house. All ways of being creative.

As I sit for a time today, I also remember MHVI, the Milwaukee Homeless Veterans Initiative, which we support. They are celebrating 10 years of service: 2008 – 2018. Veterans in our family are on their Wall of Honor.

So many ways to help our communities, nearby and around the world.

Poems For My Father

love for you
became her care
until she joined you there
grief gives way to fields and wind
and now I hear your voice again

(Published in Bell’s Letters.)


rain in dark night
refreshes each leaf
today I think of you
no longer with grief


I posted my Christmas poem for my father again in December 2017:

A Poem For You (1991).


In loving memory, for Harold A. Borgh (1915 – 1983).  My father taught history at Wauwatosa East High School.


Wait on the Lord: be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen thine heart:
wait, I say, on the Lord.

Psalm 27: 14 (KJV)


Lake Michigan
June 2018

Ellen Grace Olinger

Paul Brandt School Forest

Today I learned there is a beautiful website for the Paul Brandt School Forest.

Some of you may remember the poem I wrote for my cousin Paul.  My mother was his godmother.

For Paul F. Brandt

Another death
a sudden death
this autumn of
winter in October.

Condolences pour in
your service strengthens
and your body is laid to rest
in beloved Wisconsin land.

Now the grief begins
and how else could it be?

Surely a few people
will remain with us
in our loving sorrow
like the golden leaves
left on the tree
outside my window
that will turn green again . . .

Published first in Time Of Singing (Fall 2008).

Autumn rain

How gently sometimes one chapter ends, and another begins.  Seamless.  Sometimes too there are traumas.  My cousin, Paul Brandt, died suddenly at the age of 60, in 2006.

Paul was influenced by Aldo Leopold.  Paul is well-known in southwestern Wisconsin, for his gifts of land and savings to conservation.

My poem, “Winter In October,” was for Paul and I posted it here.  My post also includes a photo by Ruth Bauer of the Paul Brandt School Forest.

Paul was a Vietnam veteran and knew he was mortal.  He lived simply and left so much for others to enjoy.  He left everything so well-organized.

Paul Brandt also established The Lower Wisconsin State Riverway Fund, with the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin.  He practiced what he preached.  My mother was his godmother.

how gently
this day begins
Autumn rain

Blessings, Ellen

a few thoughts on July 4

Conversations are always lively in my family, with many points of view.  My father taught American history, after he served in World War II, and here it is the Fourth of July.  It is still cool here, although I’m beginning to see July wildflowers along the roads.


loved for years
and now I know your name
blue chicory

I attended the same high school where my father taught, and where my older brother and sister had also attended.  I am the youngest in the family.  Sometimes I think it was good for me that I was in Illinois for many years, before returning to Wisconsin.  I was close enough to be home often, and far enough away to grow an independent life.  My mother said I always said, “By self,” when I was growing up, when others tried to help me.  Maybe the youngest has to be that way?!

There are people here who are members of families that have been here for generations, going back a long long time.  That must be really wonderful as well.  We bought our home in 1991, and I still feel like a new person sometimes, which I truly understand and accept.  Takes time anywhere.  Home is so many things.  We perhaps don’t realize how many things we have fine-tuned about our lives, until there is a big change.  Took me awhile to get my hair-cut the way I wished in a new place!

Many young people follow this blog, and with all I post here, my biggest hope is that something offers encouragement and hope.  I find being older much easier than being younger.  I can truly say that much good can grow from the hardest places.  As the saying goes, if one door closes, another opens.  The chronic illness I had when young caused major changes, yet it was my best teacher of all.  I don’t have the list of credits or resume I might have had, but I realize so clearly that the poems you all like the best were born during those years.  The feedback we receive is powerful.  I may be doubting myself once again, and then one of you says just the right thing – perhaps as a comment, a post on your blog, in various art forms.  And I end the day well.

We do our best work and then have to trust – we can’t know all the ways we bless!

Mercy, grace, and unconditional love.  Service.  That’s what my parents gave to me.  We shall meet again.

Thanks and blessings, Ellen

The image is from wpclipart.com.