HANNIBAL | Helen Long has written hundreds of poems over the past four decades, drawing inspiration from her faith in God, nature, loved ones and friends — and her passion for writing and sharing her poetry remains as strong as ever.
Long shares her lifelong love of poetry with fellow members of First Methodist Church during Bible classes, bringing a poem that relates to a topic from a previous worship service or class. Long enjoys sitting down from time to time to look back on her works filling a large binder organized into sections like “Prayer,” “Faith,” “Inspiration” and collections dedicated to her children and her late husband, C.M. Mack Long. Her creative journey surged ahead when her husband took a position in maintenance at Luther Manor and met a woman whose son worked for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch — soon Long's poems were published in The Courier-Post along with fellow poets, and the inspiration took hold.
Long has been moved to write her poems by holidays, loved ones, and natural beauty like an expansive field of sunflowers she saw during a trip with her mother or the scenes that unfold outside the window of her apartment at Pleasant View Assisted Living.
She has been inspired to write poems dedicated to her children, Jason and Shawna, and her grandchildren. “Just a Penny,” shows the parallels between a penny and people who might be in need of help.
One stanza reads:
“Don't they know that we are just like them?
God made us and loves us too.
Right now what we need is a helping hand
And so much is depending on you.”
Long dedicated her poem “Will You Leave Any Tracks?” to her late husband and his dedication through his role with the Marion County Soil and Water Conservation District in the 1950s.
“I wandered down a country road
Abandoned long ago,
Rutted deep by the wagon wheels
Pulled by horses, slow.
I climbed a fence and crossed a field Where terraced rows ran neat,
And here and there I saw the tracks
Of little animal feet.
I climbed another fence to see
The apple trees in bloom,
All set in rows and neatly spaced
So each one would have room.
What kind of tracks will you leave
When you come to the end of your day?
Will they be paths that others might follow
Or will they just glance and turn away?”
Long said she and her family members have been blessed, and a recent accident showed “something good can come from something bad.” Long fell twice on Jan. 2, injuring her ribs, elbow and nose. “The Lord is with me,” Long said. “He has a reason for me to be here. I'll be 97 years old in April.”
The Rev. Henry Trevathan reflected on the message from Long's poem “Serve Him” in a sermon he delivered at Park United Methodist Church. The opening stanza defines serving as Jesus did.
“Would you be willing to serve outside the gates As Jesus did here on this earth?
Would you help the downtrodden As He did from His birth?”
Long reads a passage every morning from “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young, and she loves looking out her window to see the beauty each season brings.
“I'm still enjoying the journey,” Long said. “I'm glad to be alive.”