Poems on pens, style, clouds, a pretty lady, odes and wisdom

9-18-2011 — Drums and Pens

In a magazine
I saw an
Drum kit.
Only two hands and two legs
Yet so many
Cymbals and hi-hat.
What drums, cymbals, kick drums, hi-hat.
Why, how they are used
Depend on
The song, the tempo.
I have
Black, blue, red, purple
Papermate Profits, Silhouette Elites, 300 RTs
And a few Parkers.
Waht, which, how, when, why
Depends on
What’s being written, how, why
And, sometimes,
It’s all up to my mood.

9-21-2011 S.E. Hinton and 60s to 70s style

When S.E. Hinton wrote
That Was Then, This Is Now,
And observed
Greasers combing their hair over their foreheads
And Socs dressing to look poor,
For me,
This 1971 observation
The transition
Of 1960s
To 1970s Style.

9-22-2011 — Dirty Clouds

Dirty billows of cotton
Fill the blue sky
How they must be having fun
As they slowly float by
Not a care in the world
Atop the world
As they look at us and observe
They lack the nerve
To leave their home
And among us roam.

9-25-2011 — The Beautiful, Unhappy Woman

The thin,
Curly blond-haired,
Beautiful woman
Asks for cigarettes
Her once-medium-high voice
Now a little hoarse,
Gravelly, upper range.
She wears a ring
And her eyes
Avoid her smile.
Sometimes I wonder
If smoking
Is the result
Of that piece of metal she wears
Of the eyes that won’t smile.

9-25-2011 — Ode to the Ode

You always work so hard
Paying homage to others.
It’s time
For you to be recognized
I honor you, Ode.

9-25-2011 — Chinese and American Wisdom

In the land called
A wise person once observed:
“Failure is the mother of success.”
Fast forward a millennia or so.
In the land called America
(Or, in 中文, 美国)
A somewhat wise writer said:
“Life is a chess match.
“Always think at least
“Ten moves ahead
“When making important decisions.”

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How books change as we age

I remember reading S.E. Hinton’s novel That Was Then, This Is Now back around the summer of 1988 as my parents and I drove up to Oklahoma (Hinton’s home state) to help my grandmother get moved into a new home. I remember that summer Heart’s song These Dreams played on the radio a lot, so anytime I think of this short paperback that song inevitably plays in my mind.

Here’s the book in a nutshell: Bryon and Mark have been life-long friends; they are more like brothers. But as they age, they grow apart: Bryon grows to hate fights while Mark still likes them. The brother of Bryon’s girlfriend has a bad LSD trip, and when Bryon sees Mark is selling drugs, he decides to turn him in. It ends badly as Mark “disowns” Bryon and Bryon ends up breaking up with his girlfriend.

The book ends with Bryon visiting Mark in prison and realizing Mark’s a lost cause. (Mark’s character later dies in a subsequent Hinton novel Tex). Bryon says in the book’s final sentence, “I wish I was a teenager again, back when I had all the answers.”

When I finished reading, my 15-year-old mind couldn’t process such a dull, dark ending. What a stupid book, I thought.

Now, as an adult who’s matured both as a person and as a writer, I have a completely different take. Maybe it’s because I’ve learned that life’s seldom fair, or maybe it’s because I’ve grown to prefer dark endings over the happy ones. When I look back, I see it as a book of a young man who struggles with grasping adulthood and losing his adolescent innocence. He loses his “brother” and his girlfriend and sees the life of an innocent boy ruined.