Poetry – Oh No Anything But That

It seems that most of us sometime in our lives are guilty of writing poetry, most of it being bad, and really created for our personal consumption. Even though I claim to be a writer with a couple of self published books out there, I’m just as guilty of doing this. All of the poetry that I wrote was many years before I met my wife, and since we’ve known each other for over 30 years that means that this is ancient history, and for a few out there who may follow this writer’s blog, before you were born. Most times when someone writes poetry it has to do with something that has transpired in their lives, or some deep want or need that drives them to write. If a writer tried to survive on published poetry works, they’d probably starve, be homeless, and live a hard life that sometimes the romantic imagines is the life of a poet. While poetry is a popular medium, since most write it, it would seem that it should logically provide a means of support. Yet many times logic and reality are two different sides of the coin, and this is one of those instances. So for your entertainment, and my trepidation here are a few from my past. I must apologize for the spacing on the poems, since this is the formatting that exists and I’m stuck with it.

In this first one that I will present, a friend of mind had a serious girlfriend who eventually became his wife, and she would hang with all of us that ran together at the time, and it was she who pointed this out. And the title of this piece is, “When All’s Considered”.

He considered himself strong

He considered himself steadfast

One who could look past pain

One who could ignore another’s agony

He saw discipline and an uncompromising soul

He felt a toughness of mind and body

An ability to carry his point of view

Yes, this is how he felt he was

As an individual, as a man

Yet, in one fell swoop she leveled him

with the simple truth

Which, as he thought about . . .

could not be denied

And all she said was these three words

Three words which carried so much power

“You are gentle”, was all she said

This next one I wrote in 1981. At one time after writing these many poems I envisioned putting together a book that tied pictures to the words strengthening the impact. Of course this was a project that never happened. This one is titled, “The Writer’s Hand”.

High in the sky, floated his mind

Crashing to the shore with the sea’s rhyme

The music spun and wrapped and intertwined

Leaving this world far behind

Taking him from the conscious part of his mind

Leaving images that had been hard to find

Here the poet expressed thoughts –

that during the day were hard-fought

Just out of reach . . .

like words sometimes in a speech

These elusive words that imagery wrought

That only in a writer’s hand . . .

can they be transformed from thought

In pictures that all can understand and see

Then it is asked, was it written for me?

The last, at least for this presentation (who knows, I might get brave enough to do this again), is one I wrote in 1980. This one is titled, “A Woman”.

The beauty lies within

It comes out in music and conversation

In the body language and spirit

She needs no physical beauty –

Although it is there

No speech is needed

As she reveals herself in many ways

She can be any number of different people

As the inner emotions flit across her being –

A friend, a lover, a companion, a divisor of torture,

tender and hard, soft and yielding

A pillar of strength can lie underneath

And yet, at the same time fear

A need for another, and the willingness to do whatever –

whatever is necessary to reach him

She sees things differently, as she is the other side –

You can only hope to understand . . .

A side you will probably never really understand

and see . . .

For she is a woman

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Published in: on August 25, 2012 at 9:10 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Small Tragedies of Life

If one begins to listen to any of the popular music, you begin to realize that many songs talk about loves lost or chances at a relationship failing. Romance Novels deal with the tragic protagonist who is usually pursuing a flawed love interest, and then in real life we could add changes of direction caused by circumstances outside the individual’s control, such as the loss of a loved one, be it a parent, sibling, lover, husband or wife, or a child or children. In this mix are the natural disasters, which could include famine and disease, and the many places in this world where war is prevalent, which lead to undue suffering, separation, and death.

It makes one realize that there are no guarantees in life, and as it has been said a number of times, tomorrow has been promised to no one. One of the comments that have gone around is this one: “Life sucks, and then you die.” Our lives appear to be filled with small tragedies that we try to avoid all of the time. Yet our nature is such that as we look back on our lives, most of the time, but not all of the time since some tragedies are not easily forgotten, these tragedies slip from memory and we remember only the good. So like the questions from that song sung by Barbara Streisand, The Way We Were, “Can it  be that life was so simple then, or has time rewritten every line? And if we had the chance to do it all again, would we? Could we? Memories can be beautiful and yet, what’s too painful to remember, we simply choose to forget. So it’s the laughter, we will remember. Whenever we remember – the way we were.” Of course this is not all of the lyrics of this song, but it does get the point across.

When one really begins to think about this it becomes obvious that in some way or another these small individual tragedies are just part of life, and there are many popular sayings out there such as, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” And then we could add, “Every  dark cloud has a silver lining.” All giving us views of what must be a common human condition. And when one is in the midst of one of these many tragedies, it is often difficult to think that things will improve, and that somewhere in the future that this will appear to be trivial. It appears that we are constantly being torn down only to be rebuilt, hopefully learning from the experience or experiences. For at times it appears that these small tragedies continue to roll in unabated, never giving one the time to breathe. And many times the ones that are piling up upon the early ones come from unexpected directions and leave unexpected results. So again as it has been said, those dark clouds are gathering obscuring all from sight, but just beyond those dark clouds lie the sunshine and better days ahead. Why any of this is so, is for someone else to discover, but there has to be reasons for what has transpired or is transpiring in one’s life. And many times those reasons only become apparent many years down the road of life and then looking back one can say, “Now it makes sense.”

Of course, for many, they have brought this down upon themselves through their own actions, and choices. But many times, with an innocent decision or change of direction, one finds themself against that wall, trying to come up with some way out of this unexpected situation.  Sometimes, somewhere in one’s past, a decision has been made that an unknown outcome, which presents itself years later, comes to fruition, and can either be beneficial, or become one of those tragedies. An example of this was an incident many years ago, where an established middle class neighborhood with owners living in the area for many years had a commercial jet crash into it killing many instantly, besides the crew and passengers. Here little decisions led to their deaths. And many of these decisions happened many years in the past. In another incident dealt with a private plane that crashed into the side of a mountain. Here the ones who died in the crash had been deciding to either fly, or go to the beach. If they had gone to the beach they would have been alive to continue their lives. But, by deciding to take that flight instead, it killed them. Of course they were not allowed to see their futures as are any of us.

There is much truth in what is stated above, whether it is my words, the words in a song or words in a saying. Yet, if we did not get sick, if it did not rain or snow, if we did not face adversity, then how could we recognize let alone appreciate the good times? Without that dark side and dark events happening in our lives we would have nothing to compare those good times, and that conflict in your life makes it all possible. Without both sides one would be unable to recognize, let alone appreciate life when it goes right. And as a side note there is this; a writer must remember that as life goes so it is with your characters and story. For while your story is fiction as are your characters, if they do not reflect real life, then you will have lost your audience.

Published in: on August 18, 2012 at 8:35 am  Leave a Comment  
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An Informal Gathering

On July 29 we had a small informal gathering of the family. Something that’s been rare in the past many years. With society being what it is, and the necessity to go where the jobs are, families rarely remain within the same town where they grew up. In a sense this is a small tragedy, since this modern world requires both parents to work, and without the previous generation there to help and provide community, and continuity, the sense of family is being lost. In my own family, where I am one of the children, we are spread across the western United States. At times it is circumstances that have dictated that separation, and as stated above, jobs. Now my mother, who is alone, with the passing of her husband of 64 years, last year, it’s very difficult for us to be able to take care of her needs when we are 1400 miles away. Both myself and my wife have elderly mothers who are still with us, and we feel the need to be there for them. Yet this distance makes it almost impossible. That brings it full circle with our own immediate family. And what I’m referring to here, is that gathering.

So for us, we had our grown children come by for an informal family gathering. At this moment we have only one who has any distance to travel, and she is somewhat close being approximately 3 hours away. And as expected, the time just flew, and now all are back safely to their own homes. One of the children had been a few thousand miles away for many years, and she and her family had just moved back renewing that strong mother-daughter relationship that has always been there. Of course she, of all of the children, is the only one with children of her own, and one has just graduated from high school, with her other child having 2 more years to go before graduating.

What this provided for me was an overview of the importance of bringing the different generations together. Since each generation has lived through a different period of time, and because of this, each generation would have knowledge that would not be available to the other generations individually if they never met, renewed family memories, or discussed how things are, resulting in new views, insights and understandings. And, of course, additional family history being added because we did meet as a family. I come from a family which never threw many parties – birthday, get together, and such. Instead twice a year we would have one birthday party that would cover everyone, and since most birthdays were close to around the time of the celebration it worked quite well. The second major family gathering would be at Christmas, and the joys that this time of year brings to most of us. Thanksgiving was always a mixed bag, with many going in different directions due to other family obligations. As a married adult, my wife and I would spend Thanksgiving at her brother’s home, and because of my occupation, I would have to leave early and get ready for work.

Looking back on each of these gatherings, as memory serves,  for my parents, we the children, and our children would enjoy our time together tremendously. These days would just fly by and be gone almost before they seem to start. And each that we remember, we remember fondly, and it was something that helped strengthen the family bond. Remember that the only ones that truly care is one’s family. It is there where your true history lies. And if one is fortunate as my wife, you had one or two life long friends, but many times even they fade away as memory does over time. But through most of your life it is your family that is there. That’s not to say that any family that is out there is perfect. After all there is no such thing. And in some there is more stress and war going on than what is happening in the real world. Yet, even here, if someone else would try to do wrong to a family member, others within the family would back the wronged member. After all there’s nothing like conflict to bring families together.

In past generations it wasn’t unusual for families, grandparents, parents, and children, to live in the same household. This tied the generations together, forming tight-knit families or family groups. The strength of the generations lay within this framework, and it worked very well. But now this is something for the nostalgic past, and another important part of our lives that the modern world has taken away. So, as we can, let us all renew those family ties, strengthen our bonds with our personal past, our personal history. Just because modern society has made this change doesn’t necessarily mean it was a good change. After all we should benefit from those changes.

Published in: on August 11, 2012 at 9:14 am  Leave a Comment  
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Language – Living or Dead

Can we compare languages to living creatures? In some sense the obvious answer is no.  Yet when scholars refer to languages they have a tendency to either identify them as living or dead. In some ways by that very definition the answer would be yes. It grows, it changes, it proliferates, and becomes something different as the environment changes. While a language that is no longer spoken or written dies just as a living creature. Ending at some point, and leaving behind a carcass that at times is completely unknown. If one removed the word language from this mix it would be easy to assume that I was speaking of some extinct creature for which there is no comparison in the animal world today.

Some languages, such as English and Spanish have proliferated to the point that they are the dominant languages of the Western World. Tracing their roots back to Spain and Brittain who were great sea empires in the past. We see the offspring of both of these languages in places such as the Americas, and specifically North America for English, and South America for Spanish. You can add French and German into the mix, but in comparison to the other two, they have not had the success. English has become the universal tongue, a language that is built and based upon many others, allowing people to converse across territories and continents and, believe it or not, are able to understand one another.

An example of the change and growth of languages are specific words as they fall in or out of favor, or the specific meanings change. Were we to look at a feature film produced by Disney in the late 40’s, one can see it for yourselves. For its time it was revolutionary for the combination of live actors with animated characters intermingled within. In fact the three main characters of this film were cartoon characters, with the title being, “The Three Caballeros”. At the time the word used in the theme song meant happy , fun-loving, joyful, but now has changed to mean something completely different, and as a result, changes the whole theme and direction of what was originally presented – and that word is “gay”. Another word that came out of nowhere and is used prevalently throughout society, for any number of things that it originally wasn’t tied to, is “upgrade”. This term originally was part of computers and software, and that was it. Now it refers to anything that has been updated, changed, modified, or in the automobile industry refers to adding options. With this particular word we could go on and on about its many uses beyond its original definition. So now the question I originally asked still applies, with the definition of life, does a language qualify?

Language evolves, loses part of itself, reinvent’s itself, changes direction, grows and feeds on the population that speaks it, expands beyond itself when another culture uses words from it, and can eliminate competition as it becomes the dominant language. Languages die and go extinct, rise again, recombine with others, where, with careful study, the original roots can be found – just like tracing the family tree of species, living or dead, back to their roots. Language branches and grows in different directions, and paths, and many times is unrecognizable to the original. Again if we removed the word “language” from this, it would be easy to apply words such as living or extinct, like so many species, that exist or have existed on this planet – be it plants, animals, bacteria, viruses, fish, oceans, land masses, and so on. After all, language exists and changes within a living organism, giving us the ability to see things (although quite poorly) from another’s point of view. To plan, to examine, to express our feelings and thoughts, changing on the fly as the need arises, giving us a way to tell the world our point of view. And a language is considered dead when none of this happens, and it remains static until it is no longer spoken, or when the last one to know and speak the language dies. So whether it’s living or not, it’s probably not that important after all, still it’s a fun mental exercise to make these comparisons.

So here’s to the languages of today, and the dead languages of the past for which many of today’s have been built upon. If not truly living in a real sense, they still have the attributes of life, and without those attributes, we, as a species, could not grow, or change, and we ourselves would remain static and possibly disappear, becoming extinct. As we go, so does our language – may both remain strong and robust.

Published in: on August 4, 2012 at 7:28 am  Comments (1)  
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