Holding Grace: Prose & Poetry

Holding Grace: Prose & Poetry

by Rj Heller


View All Available Formats & Editions
Eligible for FREE SHIPPING
  • Want it by Thursday, October 25?   Order by 12:00 PM Eastern and choose Expedited Shipping at checkout.


Holding Grace: Prose & Poetry by Rj Heller

Holding Grace embraces a contemporary, free verse style of poetry as the voice for sharing a range of life’s experiences and emotions, creating an approachable and highly readable collection. Within these pages are recognizable tales of friendship and loss, contentment and longing, reflections on current events and locales, and the pure pleasure that may be found when one stops to soak in the beauty and rhythm of nature.

The storytelling here breathes life into the moments captured. From the exuberance of a child free to swing high on a rope and drop into cool waters in Washed Anew, to the quiet reflection of a young father realizing life’s blessings on Christmas morn in A Morning Made of Perfection, the images conjured by the author strike a chord that is at once familiar and emotional.

Tenderly written remembrances of childhood, tales of middle-aged angst as one feels the press of time, and backward glances at life’s choices are all countered with stories of nature’s challenging beauty, and the too infrequent simplicity of enjoying a quiet rain or a frozen breath on a cold day.

This collection offers sentimental reflections on life and the memories we carry, as well as an unblinking look at the need to accept the passage of time with grace and appreciation.

Pause and take in the life moments, both common and unique, that are so lovingly shared in Holding Grace.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781452577128
Publisher: Balboa Press
Publication date: 09/16/2013
Pages: 86
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.21(d)

Read an Excerpt

Holding Grace

Prose & Poetry


Balboa Press

Copyright © 2013 RJ Heller
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4525-7712-8




A Man and Tree
Nature in Five-Part Harmony:
Of Trees Singing
Shade to Time
Safe Harbor
Rows of Corn

    A Man and Tree

    "There is history in these boughs!"
    For if this is so,
    branches cannot lie,
    climbing ever upward in search of the answer.

    Though scarred and tattered,
    The story leaves its rings.
    So does time mar with wrinkles
    on each who ponder.

    Neglected colors illuminate, then fade.
    Through seasons of question and recurring thought,
    we seek that one swift moment,
    that question in search of a tree.


Rippled and full,
with breath,
tongues touch.

A language pure,
so fleeting
in shapes.

Listen with your eyes;
they speak,
voices soft, subtle.

The light is on.
I can see
time float,

full with life,
empty of regret
at work.


Bits and pieces,
holding hands,
stretch and speak.

A language pure,
so nurturing
in vision.

Stories settle.
A long nap,
rock upon rock.

The light is on.
I can see
a past built.

Movement so slight,
faint whispers
at home.


Quiet and still,
recline to reveal
an inner soul.

A language pure,
so unexpected
in colors.

Emotions vast
as the ocean,
a thousand moments.

The light is on.
I can see
faint glimmers of breath

as they lie
in each other's arms,
at rest.


Waters from above
mingle with yesterday.
Speak of tomorrow.

A language pure,
so inviting
in sound.

A moment stirs;
eyes drink in
rapt attention.

The light is on.
I can see
dreams glide by

around maypoles,
fixed in stone,
at play.


Feet so firm,
we stand,
a reverent silence.

A language pure,
so bold
in stature.

Emotion revealed
as forgotten crust
weaves time.

The light is on.
I can see
leaves dance.

I wipe my brow
and sigh, a breath shared
at peace.

Of Trees Singing

Wisp of wind and of heart,
hear us sing through leaves of thought.

Time is now and of then;
hear us sing as we bend.

Colors bloom, then sadly die;
hear us sing as seasons fly.

Bark holds fast, as leaves play fife;
hear us sing a chorus of life.

Shade to Time

Reflections from the Great Wall of China, April 8, 2001

Time slides down the slopes, caressing the seconds as it shows itself to me and to others. Stone piled onto stone compresses the time, making it compact so others may share in its secrets.

Time blooms at moments when the stone is touched. Its warmth enters the soul and provides comfort. It reveals to us the touch of others, and we reflect on that warmth and yearn to understand that time and place.

Time is revealed in shadow as that shadow clutches and pulls against the grain of stone. The heart of stone is its grain. The heart of time is that of shadow.

Time travels, stone placed upon stone. The wall stretches and grows. It seeps into the contours of the mountain it climbs. It provides protection to its builders. It provides place to those it shelters. It always will provide shade to time.

Safe Harbor

In Memory of a Friend

Such joy to make the turn.
Lonely, vacant days
try to pull me back,
but I steer her straight,
head for the sound
of land calling as seagulls wave and buoys weep.

* * *

Such joy, creased time blinks
as the rock sits,
pulling me closer,
arms outstretched in welcome.
We both exhale, make the turn,
head for the sound
of hearts melting as a mother waves and a boy weeps.

I am home.

Rows of Corn

I enter
among wide rows of mounded dirt,
kneel down,
and place within its grip
a question.
A simple seed, nourished by rain and light,
it prospers
with elements of time as friend
to grow.
I enter
among wide rows of corn
and search
for that perfect product
that upon reflection and time
will produce a smile,
and with that,
the answer I've long been
waiting for.



Some Pieces

Steps Taken
As I Wait
Night Sky
Between the Tides
The Sound of Rain
An Endless Pause
The Touch of Another
Ebb Tide

Steps Taken

For the Soldier

quiet and soft,
over dust,
through time.

Battle cry fades.
Clouds return.
Numb, tired

the call—
clouds touch,
tears fall.

* * *

forward, strong,
hand in hand,
hold fast.

Between triumphs
rests tragedy—
to remain.

the call.
Clouds touch,
tears fall.

* * *

Lives suspended
within the heart.
A voice in the distance
calls from the dark.

So steps I climb;
as brothers, we climb.
Skies open; sunlight returns.
We reach; we learn.

In the aftermath,
we are because they were.
We console
and always return.

* * *

With steps taken,
a soldier dreams.
When I sleep, when I wake,
I am home,

so are they.

As I Wait

Reflection on September 11, 2001

There you are—a distant movement
hiding behind a corner of my mind.
I see the smile peek.

Flags, unfurled, wave in the dust.
I see colors wink from the direction
where they have been, to say "Hello."

Coming from, not going to,
a rubble so strewn, weeping
as I wait.

* * *

There you are. Joy abounds,
coming around a corner to color my tears.
I touch the smile.

Flags flutter in the breeze.
I see life as we heal and clouds float
amidst the noise; white layers blink blue.

They wave as they leave
above the streets, and say "Good-bye"
as I wait.

    Night Sky

    We are part of everything, and because of this,
    the night shines just a little bit brighter.

    Looking up to the darkness, I seek something.
    Unsure of what it is, I continue searching.
    Glimmer of light, a color not palpable, but it
    takes hold of my senses, speaks in shadows.
    Cold chill, night air, stars pop with light as
    salted popcorn begs a hearty laugh,
    sprinkles me with its spice, as I stare in awe.

    * * *

    An infinite horizon is out there, beyond my gaze.
    The vastness of it, the timeless wanderings of light;
    where it begins is where it finally ends.
    A thousand stars blink, then are gone,
    only to be reborn as another again and again.
    Oh, to be a star, where thoughts are placed, and
    then replaced by another, so pure and magical.

    * * *

    Looking up to the darkness, stars glancing back,
    the sky moves, waves a hello and a goodbye.
    Grand in scale, I feel so small, but part
    of this glorious second, minute, hour.
    I move with the stars, the planets, the heavens,
    and realize I am part of the magic.
    Look in the mirror, at the night sky, reflected in my eyes.

    Between the Tides


    An odyssey
    to be realized,
    to be lived.

    Tend to the boats
    and tackle.
    She approaches.
    Shoreline disappears.
    Where has it gone?

    * * *

    A sojourn
    to be respected,
    to be lived.

    Take her out slow,
    eyes open.
    She guides.
    Horizon runs forever.
    Where will it go?

    * * *

    A journey
    to be realized,
    to be respected.

    Between the tides,
    but one chance
    to see
    shoreline and horizon.
    Where will I be?


    I am haunted.
    Ancient wood creaks; water surrounds,
    cold and vacant; wind reminds memory,
    her voice an echo—a faint whisper
    like the clouds above, tremble, "This way, my love."

    Hands worn, time given, taken, course set.
    Weary oars take turns, pull upon each other.
    She is with me; feel love glide atop smiles,
    igniting passion lost so very long ago.

    Blankets of white and gray embrace.
    Stone cracked from borrowed time calls
    compass-wrapped directions, to me.
    We move together as one; waves breathe.
    Yearning weeps; it unfurls, incomplete.
    The pace quickens; heartbeat stirs to life.
    Tears form unforgiving torrent, clouds part,
    heaven reveals glory, creased eyes see



    Sweet refrain,
    a violin speaks. The note pulsates
    in twists and turns, searching for someone.
    A stolen glance becomes a chance to
    hear it all anew for the very
    first time.
    Such warmth is desire to stay and be wrapped in its embrace
    while letting it find you and me, taking us to distant places.
    It has happened before—so magical.

    * * *

    Ivory teeth,
    a note sounds, the call is made.
    A major effort for a minor key, seeking
    solemnity revealed in pure splendor for the very
    first time.
    A pensive key, speaking to us of want, of desire—
    perhaps to correct its bent shape, a challenge for now,
    maybe forever—it continues on and on.

    * * *

    Canvas heavy
    with intent, as colors dry a lead-laden ooze;
    each stepping to the front, finding its place
    as colors choose, rather than be chosen for the very
    first time.
    Splashes of light smile, for they are now set down as thoughts
    alongside vibrant colors for us to see, to be something
    stretched out on pure white—like a dream.

    Nature speaks,
    looking forward, never behind, as sweet raptures float,
    beckon a new day in new dress while others sit, rest.
    Together, we are the intrepid explorers for the very
    first time.
    The sun new again, we watch the sea speak lullabies as
    trees dance in splendor and the wind takes all under wing
    to a new place—a new beginning.

    * * *

    Every moment is a beginning and every
    beginning a pure moment.
    It is out there, perfection waiting to be found, a joyous gift of
    a start and an end all wrapped together—pure harmony
    just around the corner, when chance meets chance
    and the end never comes;
    it simply continues as a new beginning
    as it is found again and again
    for the very first time.

Much of my writing reflects a sense and feel of and for time. Countless thoughts of how quickly a day passes, moments, etc. My writing is an attempt to capture "it."

This piece occurred to me on a rainy morning. The window was open, and as the drops fell, the sounds peeked in under the window and dropped onto the page as words. Many times this happens in different circumstances ... the words simply are.

* * *

The Sound of Rain

Reflections on Time

I am old.

With each exhale, a bit of me is lost forever.
I reach out to hold, but it slips through my grasp.

The breath, moist with memory, hangs
a bit, stops, and looks back.
It cannot return, so it gathers itself and
plunges forward, never to reappear.

Another takes its place, but it too looks
back, remembers, and is gone.
With each inhale, I try to call back time: a
memory, a past moment, a piece of me.

We breathe to live; we breathe to remember.

Rain ... long lost memories, thoughts from us all
fall, touching us with moist embraces of the past.
Its smell is of childhood ... of ball games and
hopscotch, of bubble gum and bikes, tattered
jeans and worn-out sneakers, friendship.

I love the sound of rain.

    An Endless Pause

    Skip a stone and it will eventually sink to the bottom,
    but the ripples it creates, go on and on ... Forever

* * *

    A house stands neglected and alone by the edge of a
    pond. Sitting and waiting while time moves around
    it in fractal seconds, becoming long, quick years
    that simply sneak up when no one is looking.

    The years moved by fast,
    so flattered to be, but still to prove.
    A stone is gripped by my hand.
    Its smoothness
    reminds of time gone by, its edge, of distant possibilities.

    Thrown in haste, with delight,
    it looks back with regret, tries
    to stay while moving forward.
    Its smoothness
    remains on my fingers as its toes skip across the surface.

    Then with a last breath, it sinks to the bottom.

    The ripples stretch and roll, awaken
    for the first time, as wakes form
    and roll with precision,
    their smoothness
    in slow motion, look back as they curl with memory.


    in the midst of a bird's wings, the ocean's waves,
    a child's giggle and a mother's joy, a mountain's rapture,
    a breath ... running water, a distant call, a rustle of leaves,
    tears shed, surprise revealed ... the
    minutes, the hours, the days.

    A flicker of light reveals peeling paint.

    There is a pause ... if captured, it is endless.

    The Touch of Another

    We are here for such a brief time, yet the footprints made
    are cherished by others, long after we are gone.

    Loving embrace,
    mother to child,
    never pales
    when light
    to darkness;
    it grows

    Fingers laced,
    father to son,
    contact made
    this day, every day,
    and unseen,
    with wisdom

    Eyes meet a
    friend of mine,
    voice intent,
    to all
    that is said,
    and hearing
    all that is not

A piano key is touched ever so lightly. A note is born and travels, like the ripples of a pebble thrown from shore, or a breath smiling on the pane as it slides ... a note tucked into a book, or footprints in the sand ... when lost, we find

    The touch of another
    is there
    to remind,
    bringing peace,
    certain comfort,
    and tears,
    serene sincerity
    and a smile

    Ebb Tide

    I stand on the shore, one with the sand,

    looking at today, searching for tomorrow.
    Light is everywhere, separated by horizon:
    blue above, blue green below;
    white patches cling to both.
    * * *
    Watching as the air takes each breath away,
    and salt takes its place in my soul.
    Water flows away from the shore
    not high or low, but away ...

    Gulls fly high, looking back to remember.
    Their feathers caress the air so lightly,
    move like the water, coming and going,
    life's presence fulfilled by air and sea.

    I smile as waves fall, rolling effortlessly.
    Coming back, returning as if by chance,
    the place where it all started, home.
    The sea knows its return is endless.

    * * *

    I stand on the shore, one with the sand,

    looking at today, finding tomorrow.
    The ebb tide recedes with my thoughts and hopes
    flowing away with the gulls' laughter,
leaving, in its place, peace.



And Story
An Evening of Grace
As Water Beckons
A Journey
Touching of Souls
Possession Morning
Holding Grace
Washed Anew
Beyond Beautiful
A Morning Made of Perfection

An Evening of Grace

The trees watch as the evening light recedes, reflecting on a day full of life—of possibilities found and those missed. So do I, as I sit. The porch swing glides forward and back in a magical, dreamlike rhythm. Like being in a mother's arms, wrapped and warmed with blankets and breath, a cadence that soothes the soul.

Life is surreal sometimes if we pause and take a moment ...

a glance made to the yard in front, the street just beyond. The one from my childhood, days filled with laughter and scraped knees. A street open with possibility and void of flaws. The air, crisp with memory, flaunts itself every now and then. It starts to rain. How magic is the sound of rain?

The trees blink with the last of the light, trying to hold on to the day. I strain to see with squinted eyes, as creases and wrinkles scratch and claw to surface, and take part in the memory of a tree and a boy ...

in younger days, the climb would be quick—up, up through the branches, feel the rough edges of bark, regret ... and the subtle softness of the new wood and buds, possibility ... all the while gazing out on days past, through the leaves, touch it, feel it.

The days and years reach out and embrace me again. I can see them, oh, so clearly. The rain, it falls in sequence, a pattern, so light it seduces.

As I am, the sound of the chain speaks to me, link by link, metal against metal, bits and pieces flake, and fragments fall to the ground or separate and take flight to another place. Some wait for tomorrow and call me back to this moment today.

The trees have closed their eyes, at least for now. It is dark, yet still so bright. The heavens above speak in tones of morning dew, of a day still to come. Branches let go. I return to the earth and realize no more, my time now grounded. On this porch swing, gentle movement is all I can muster as the chains stretch and defy gravity. They support; they speak in caked tones of yesterday, rusted proof of time.

Now still and quiet, the porch swing moves within me, gliding back and forth in memory, like a clock, a pendulum of life. I inhale and exhale in syncopation as rain falls. Gracious for the time spent, it now washes everything—over everything, through everything, even me. Evening lies down and night wakes up. Sounds from the street float with an echo, embrace the rain with rapture, for it is memory of a day, a time that keeps pace when we no longer can. A full chorus, harmony for all, back and forth, kept in rhythm by the heart.

Excerpted from Holding Grace by RJ HELLER. Copyright © 2013 RJ Heller. Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


BOOK ONE Bits....................          

A Man and Tree....................     3     

Clouds....................     4     

Mountains....................     5     

Stones....................     7     

Streams....................     8     

Trees....................     9     

Of Trees Singing....................     10     

Shade to Time....................     11     

Safe Harbor....................     13     

Rows of Corn....................     14     

BOOK TWO Some Pieces....................          

Steps Taken....................     19     

As I Wait....................     23     

Night Sky....................     24     

Between the Tides....................     25     

Home....................     27     

Beginnings....................     28     

The Sound of Rain....................     30     

An Endless Pause....................     32     

The Touch of Another....................     34     

Ebb Tide....................     37     

BOOK THREE And Story....................          

An Evening of Grace....................     41     

As Water Beckons....................     43     

A Journey....................     46     

Touching of Souls....................     47     

Possession Morning....................     50     

Holding Grace....................     53     

Washed Anew....................     57     

Beyond Beautiful....................     63     

A Morning Made of Perfection....................     67     

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Holding grace: Prose & Poetry 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
 I'm 27 years old and I’ve done a lot of growing over the past two years. I’ve learned that time is all that we own and it is moments and memories that make up that time, no matter how small or large they are.  Different moments mean different things to different people.  We are graced by people and moments on a daily basis, but it is only after the person or the moment has passed that we realize it is a memory and it’s important to us and it makes up time. That time is compiled into and creates our life.  This book, “Holding Grace,” by RJ Heller hits home with me.  He has managed to take small moments that become memories and put the feelings we all feel into words.   In “Touch of Another,” the moments of a father holding his son’s hand, or a mother holding her child, or two friend’s as their eyes meet, no words even need to be spoken for each of them to be understood.  In “A Morning Made of Perfection,” a Christmas morning and the joyful feeling that is felt with a young family and the hope and love that is shared could not be put into words in a better way.  This books allows us to read and revisit memories over and over again.  This book grabs you by your heart and doesn’t let you go.     CaitlinNashville, TN   
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Holding grace brings a simple but important concept of life and all the beautiful elements we don,t  embrace enough.We should all be so fortunate to experience and feel what the Author  has. This book is thought provoking,a good read.