PROMPT #159 – “AUTO_BIOGRAPHY”: GUEST HOST – WILLIAM PRESTON

Today I welcome back a returning poetic “hero”. He came forward and stood tall when I had run up hard against life last year. And he had served admirably. Aside from that he is an accomplished poet in his own right, a fellow Poet Laureate at Poetic Asides with Robert Lee Brewer. Welcome “home” William Preston.

***

POET LAUREATE WILLIAM PRESTON

POET LAUREATE
WILLIAM PRESTON

William Preston has been writing poems for nearly thirty years. His main inspiration was song lyrics; owing to a severe hearing loss, which prevented him from understanding songs as sung, he would look up the words. He thus grew to know lyricists such as Irving Berlin, Oscar Hammerstein II, Lorenz Hart, Johnny Mercer, Gus Kahn, and others of the golden era of Tin Pan Alley. He wanted to write like they did, and also like poets such as Robert Frost, Adelaide Crapsey, and Ogden Nash. (He likes to be eclectic and prefers to write in forms.) He has published little, however, and views blogs such as Robert Brewer’s Poetic Asides and this one as his primary means of sharing the joy of writing verses.

PROMPT #159 – “AUTO-BIOGRAPHY” - There are times we would like people to know us in a little better way. Sometimes we offer up TMI. Today we tell a little about ourselves by our reasoning NOT to do exactly that! Think of some reasons why your WOULDN’T write your auto-biography. Use one reason as your title and write that poem.

WALT’S STORY:

UNINTERESTING

An ordinary guy in ordinary times,
living an ordinary life
in a very ordinary way. A simple man,
in a simple place among remarkable people.
My family would read me or they won’t.
My friends could read me, but they don’t see
any different me than they already know.
I have known my arrogance to get the best of me,
the rest of me hides in the shadows revisited
by the trepidation in which I grew. I knew
I should “release the beast within”. And in that,
I grin. Much to say, yet no way to know it.
So, I just became a poet.

(C) Copyright Walter J Wojtanik – 2014

 

 

WILLIAM’S “SELFIE”:

AN UNFINISHED DREAM

The trees are swimming upwind, and the sky
glows green in silent harmony with blue;
a vireo is calling out a new
sweet dirge as sunlight whispers. By and by,
the colors merge to grey, a subtle lie
that mocks the moonlight as it shimmers through
a cataract that stands where flowers grew,
and all of this enthralls my mind and eye.
I think I am awake. The paneled room
appears the same as when I went to sleep,
but even so, I cannot rise from bed.
This strange kaleidoscope, so bright with gloom,
has come once more, as though from some great deep,
and now, again, I taste the hue of dread.

(C) Copyright – William Preston, 2014

252 thoughts on “PROMPT #159 – “AUTO_BIOGRAPHY”: GUEST HOST – WILLIAM PRESTON

  1. This piece is poignant for me, partly for itself and partly because I read your memoir. As to the latter, it’s a vivid one, Viv (a terrible pun, I know).

  2. Pingback: Why My Car is a Wordle | FredHerring

  3. I couldn’t resist.

    Why I Would Not Write My Auto’s Biography

    My car is ordinary as a toaster or a stack of books
    (both, it does somewhat resemble), with four
    ordinary cylinders, not six, not eight. It drinks
    the ordinary grade of gasoline, and not too much.
    There isn’t much to say. My car has never once
    pulled Timmy from the chimney, pit, or well.
    It doesn’t come when whistled for, or scramble
    up a cliff face, ball clutched in its porcelain grill.
    Has not granted my wish for a fortune or two.
    And although I have been drilled from infancy
    and know one’s auto is extraordinary–is, in fact
    extension of the self–mine, except for being larger
    on the inside than the out and now and then
    negotiating rips in time’s continuum, is not
    worth a split second of your time.

    • Hi, Marie. Good to be back for a spell; Walt’s prompt, and the fascinating form he has in mind for Wednesday, make this week a challenge, to say nothing of the usual dread of selecting only one bloom at week’s end. This has been a favorite site of mine ever since you invited me to check it out, so I’m honored to participate again. I hope all is well.

  4. Douceur de Vivre

    I’m working on my autobiography
    it’s going to be a treat to read.
    Capone’s vault – I’ll reveal what was gone
    (you remember Geraldo’s big yawn?)
    Most of it is safely stashed away
    in a Swiss bank account for someday
    I’ll be living in tall wheat
    it’ll truly be sweet-someday.
    Then there’s the matter
    of my real father’s name
    a dashing actor he was famous
    for his wild escapades
    with the (shall we say) Pleiades.
    I ultimately tell where the bodies are hid (never fret)
    but the statutes of limitations have not expired yet.

  5. Pingback: Spilled | Metaphors and Smiles

  6. Spilled

    The very last thing
    or worst thing,
    the one thing
    that I’d try to hide
    would surely rise,
    against every ounce of strength
    and in contrast to what I’d wish or will.
    It would certainly sting –
    lingering at the surface,
    it would, contradict
    abandon common sense
    and spill to the page,
    there it’d lay
    splayed open;
    deep artery of secret
    there it’d lie
    bled,
    emptied
    of its burden.
    Red and revealed,
    no little silences held within
    no tiny irksome lurksome stories held in.
    Things that don’t serve me would lure me,
    ancient history better left to mystery would plague me
    until all the bitter quitter attitudes were out in the open
    and every niggling negative attribute was slipped to the sun
    but final relief at release then turns to sudden grief;
    free and in an instant chained.
    Strangers will know now,
    perspectives changed
    people will really see me
    for all that I am
    all that I am not –
    the real human in me
    will be spilled.

    Copyright © Hannah Gosselin 2014

    • This poem is gripping and so skillful, in my view, in the way it almost literally opens up and closes down again, accentuated by the use of line lengths, akin to breaths that change with tension. Marvellous..

    • I thought about writing a poem about being an anti-hero or a bad example. . .decided I don’t want to write that way . . . but anyhow, this captures that fear, that if someone knows the real me, they will draw back. Well done

    • Oh, excellent, Hannah. Is this not the question we’d all ask ourselves in seriousness–that we’d reveal too much of ourselves and be seen for either fraud, charlatan, or imposter; our credibility would be in doubt and those we love would distance themselves from us over things that have no purpose to today’s life?

    • Hannah, as Williams says above, like breathing. The inhale of a lingering dare and the exhale of dread discovery results in exasperating respiration, so perfectly demonstrated by the short-to-long lines. This was master poetry, to me.

    • I didn’t see your poem before I posted, but ours are a lot alike. Although you express it so much better than I ever could…
      This is so skillfully and beautifully written, Hannah! xx

  7. This one looks nicer centered…that’s okay…I’m chuckling because in writing this poem about spilling too much…I’ve really spilled nothing at all. Well any way, it IS the reason why I wouldn’t write an autobiography and in an instant the very same reason why I would. Funny how that works.

    Thank you for the inventive challenge and for hosting and guest hosting you two!!

    Walt, your poem states so well what I believe are the feelings of many a writer…excellent poem and poet behind it!

    William, your piece is so very dreamlike and you offer both the bright and dull contrasts with such skill…the dread hanging in the end holds the heavy pull that dread evokes…very well written.

    Happy Father’s day to all the pa pa poets out here!!

    Warm smiles and happy writing to all!

  8. NOT ENOUGH PATIENCE

    It’ll be my downfall one day.
    Success out there beyond my reach
    (Smilingly bright and cuddly-soft)
    Lost forever because I could not wait.

    On my deathbed I’ll strain to kick
    my bedridden behind because
    I never learned to cool my heels,
    To heed Milton’s reassurance
    That “all things come to him who waits.”

    I was always in a hurry
    To get somewhere, finish something,
    Be done with this and start on that,
    As though a premonition of early death
    Drove me relentlessly in high gear.

    Who knew I’d live to be an old man!
    And worse, an old still impatient man
    Who even now turns two deaf ears
    To that other Miltonian:
    “They also serve who only stand and wait”?

    The old wagon I threw a blanket on
    And rode before the paint was dry;
    The gifts under the Christmas tree
    I opened days before Santa came;
    Those first-draft poems I deemed final.

    All right, I’ll confess it once again:
    I have absolutely no patience.
    I want peace in the world right now.
    I question, Where is the cure for cancer?
    I’ll admit it, Lack of patience is a vice.

    #

    • This poem feels impatient; the short lines lend that aura, for me anyway. I;m not so sure your final line is the last word; this (presumably) first-draft poem is so good. I also got a huge chuckle from “On my deathbed I’ll strain to kick / my bedridden behind”.

      • Yes, it is a just-written first draft, but I did confess, didn’t I, that I am too often an impatient man? I should add, however, as a rule I do edit my writing; in fact, sometimes so many drafts I hate myself for losing sight of my own impatient nature!

    • Wonderful, non-autobiography, Sal. You speak for many of us, I’d guess. I know I fall into that category in so many ways. It reads with dramatic flair, as well.

    • Sal, a reckless grasp for perfection seems confessed here…but despite your ‘old still impatient’ self-assessment, so much of your work seems to have arrived, in my honest opinion. But I agree. Many of us write and write and write to get it and set it right. Loved this one.
      And I am already glad William has to do the picking this week.

  9. Walt, love your poem, how our lives can feel so unimportant (and so we write, even better). William, the fear of your real life finishing the nightmare. . .scary

  10. This prompt reminds me of one of my favorite quotes (from Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield): “Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.”

    And here is my poem:

    UNNECESSARY

    Heroes vanquishing dragons
    Damsels defending castles
    Happily-ever-after endings
    Each book holds a piece of me
    Rearranged for success
    Search them and you will know
    The me I want to be

    Darlene Franklin ©2014

    • I think this is an effective, poignant, and spot-on poem, a glimpse into the power of stories and your ability to share that power in your own writing.

    • This is so very me, Darlene–the me I’ve always been. :) How did you fall into my life like that? :)

      Seriously, that’s how I feel much of the time and always have. It’s that “the grass is always greener” syndrome of an avid reader–one whose life will never be as exciting or seemingly purposeful as the ones in our favorite books.

      Love this.

      • Claudsy, we are twins, you make me feel.
        I’m actually talking about the books I’ve written, that there’s always a bit of me in them. :) But that would also be true of the books I read

        • Both are applicable, Darlene. Indeed, they must be, for we cannot identify with those things totally foreign nor sympathize with any we cannot love.

          We could be spiritual twins at that, my friend. What a nice thought.

    • Darlene, this is a delightful whispered revelation. Especially that these ‘pieces’ are ‘rearranged for success.’ Lovely way to put our dreams on display.

      • The first rule for fiction writers: write what you know. The second rule for fiction writers, IMO, is: write what you want to know more about. So research can be fun.

  11. Walt, the opening lines of your poem recalled for me one of the song’s in Lerner and Loewe’s My Fair Lady, but the rest of it confirmed, again, that you are an extraordinary poet. Thanks for the opportunity to share this venue again.

  12. Pingback: Frozen Smiles | echoes from the silence

  13. FROZEN SMILES
    (a shadorma)

    Just selfies
    for me, no auto
    biograph –
    fees are too
    great: everyone would see the
    broken-poet-me.

    2014-06-15
    P. Wanken

  14. After the Rain

    The dustiness of yesterday
    turned muddy
    this morning
    with even the grass
    giving up a different
    smell,
    but it can’t hide
    from even my toes
    knowing the slipperiness
    of your deceptive lies
    that grew
    from nothingness,
    until even the birds
    fly away from
    the stench of us
    knowing we won’t be
    the same
    after shedding
    all these tears.

    • Ouch! This piece makes me shudder a bit; the power in the lines, especially (for me) “even the birds / fly away from / the stench”, is impressive. That line has all the more meaning, in my view, because I don’t think birds have much of a sense of smell.

    • Patricia, I have to agree with William on this one. Dark, evocative, and powerful. But all the more unforgettable for that. Nice work!
      Oh, and I got hit with those same lines William did. Not for the same reason, perhaps, but hit hard anyway.

    • Patricia, this was a powerful moment you’ve captured, in this freeze-frame realization. There is a ‘stench’ to knowing things won’t ever be like they were again. Tears shed are like leaves on the water under the bridge…they’re there, they’re gone, and their time gone away with them.

    • Thank you all for your thoughtful commentary. It’s interesting how thoughts that ‘just come’ in a quick birth can be more powerful that the ones that we spend hours laboring over. :)

  15. I’m Not Done Yet

    The mold may have been cast
    but there is still some fine etching
    and smoothing to be done…

    and while I’ve done some interesting things
    which I HAVE written home about,
    would anyone but those related by blood,
    who feel obligated to read what I find interesting,
    really care?

    With every brush stroke and pen splatter
    I’m still improving, if even in my own mind,
    and those self-confidence levels of derring-do
    waver like the swells of waves…

    and there is still so much to do,
    so many more ways to grow
    and perhaps that something stellar
    is lying in wait to pounce
    and make me interesting and worthy.

    So for now, I keep plugging away
    and when I’m ready and worthy –
    (probably near death)
    I’ll drop you a line.

  16. “To stir the dross
    will tarnish the penny”

    A copper penny
    adrift in a river of gold
    vibrates with the
    current, the tumble
    of fluid burnishing
    the edges. To stir
    the dross will tarnish
    the healing tides.

  17. I Used to be a Hussy

    I used to be so naughty,
    making friends and having fun
    with disreputable people
    that made nice young ladies run

    for cover. Unrepentant,
    I recall us unashamed
    as we sought to suck the marrow
    wild as birds, our hearts untamed.

    I can’t say that I am sorry
    for imagination’s exercise;
    I tested lots of boundaries
    and learned how to apologize

    for chuckles made at solemn times,
    for casting judgment to the winds,
    for deeds just short of petty crimes,
    for picking flawed and quirky friends.

    Lord, I could tell some stories—
    but what good would that do now
    that we’ve all become like everyone
    transformed from snakes to cows?

    We’re old as hell and humbled;
    on our surface, you can’t see
    we regarded rules as dead weights
    on our yin for running free,

    with a taste for misbehavior,
    with a flair for song and dance,
    with no fear of loss or danger,
    with a penchant for romance.

    I could write outrageous memoirs—
    entertaining, goodness, yes,
    with a wealth of red disclaimers
    that I swore not to confess

    while my family was living,
    while my friends were above ground;
    lovely folks are always giving
    me a chance to settle down.

    But sometimes in celebrating
    tales from memory’s menu,
    I learn the tamest folks I know
    are shameless hussies too.

  18. Interesting prompt this morning, Walt. Tough decided how to approach it. At least for me. Hey there, William. So glad to put face to voice.

    Too Many Chapters

    Life’s book filled with chapters
    Roaming image’s shop—how
    Can I pick and choose those
    Episodes worthy of gracing another’s
    Attention?

    Gracing another’s attention is meant
    For things of relevancy, where
    Past happenings, past selves
    No longer apply to today’s chapter
    Ending.

    Today’s chapter ending moves my
    Story along toward its ultimate
    Finale with me saying goodbye,
    My book’s chapters closed on up
    Notes.

  19. Auto-bore-ography

    By David De Jong

    Dreadful bore to read the lore
    Of this one that stays ashore

    Shoveled stalls of nature’s calls
    Thrilling paint on drying walls

    Touch of grit, occasional spit
    Full of bull-embellishment

    Slow at start and not too smart
    Just a bald-headed old fart

    Enough said, too much’s been read
    Lest it goes, all to his head

  20. This poem isn’t quite what you’re looking for , , , but it’s one of my favorite of my daughter’s, and she’s no longer here to share it herself. If I’ve shared this one before, please forgive me.

    HOPE IN BLACK AND WHITE

    How can I be such as I am in this world of white
    In this world of white where everything goes right
    But there’s a world of black
    Where the sky is gray and no sun shines
    I go into this world of black sometimes
    Into a world of darkness and despair
    But hope is always there
    I am on a journey to hope
    Where the sun shines and gladness stays

    By Jolene Elizabeth Franklin

    • I’ve not seen this before, Darlene. She has a powerful way with concept and image poems and using them as she does. Thank you for sharing. In her own way, I think the did speak of her life and why she couldn’t do an auto-bio. Weird, isn’t it? How speaking of one’s life can fall outside the realm of memoir?

      • Yes. I see her heart in her poems and I feel joy and pride–and loss. At her funeral, they prepared a collage of poems and photographs that showcased some of her best work. She was seriously talented (IMHO)

      • When she was 13, applying for a special high school (that’s another story), the director called her “articulate.” People would see her emotional problems and her childish affect and think she was mentally challenged. But she was bright, articulate, with the soul of a poet. All the more amazing since she could hardly talk as a child (hearing problems)

  21. Books on Wheels

    “Take your books to the lady at the
    front desk. She will check them out.”
    (And also check them in again)

    That was my job, off and on and over
    A lot of years. Ffom schoolgirl to great
    Grandma I stood at many circulation
    Desks and handed books to tiny tots
    And all the grades of school and some spots
    Where older people spent their days, not
    Always lonely when a bookmobile would pop
    Into the drive and once again I would check
    Books out and check them in again.

    A happy combination, children and
    Their books. A library is not always
    Hushed and quiet. It also might not stay
    In one single spot, but spend the day
    Traveling from here to there, a real road show
    Which was my favorite job of all, when
    The bookmobile put out at dawn, visiting
    Small ports in varied landscapes and then
    Returned to the great big library again.

  22. Without your examples, Walt and William, this would be a tough prompt for me. Heck. With your examples it will be a tough prompt, since you have set the bar high.

  23. Three cheers for William, the most supportive and generous of readers!

    Not Finished Yet

    Any story of my life I might
    write now would fall short
    of the full story, leaving out
    everything that comes next.

    I need time to view the past
    from a comfortable distance,
    aligning all the versions of me
    into one single protagonist.

    No careful study I might make
    of the dramatic arc allows me
    a dispassionate vantage point
    to just my place—rising action,

    climax, or rolling faster toward
    my resolution, denouement.
    Leave my tales and their telling
    to someone else, who’ll cry,
    not die at The End.

    • I’ve savored this several times since I first saw it. There is a quiet serenity here, or so it seems to me; the first stanza captures that with “leaving out / everything that comes next,” which mingles hope and confidence that the best may yet come. The little ring of rhyme and alliteration at the end feels fitting: let some other poet summarize my life; I’m still living it. Beautiful work.

      And thank you for the kind words.

    • I love the depth yet simplicity of your writing, Nancy. “aligning all the versions of me
      into one single protagonist” would be an admirable goal! (and I wholeheartedly agree with your comment regarding William…)

    • Love this, Nancy. It fits so well for so many of us. Wonderful expression of knowing your life story affords grist for the memory mills of those left behind, more than for the one leaving.

      Marvelous!

  24. Hinting at a Questionable Past…Don’t Even Ask

    The problem (if I told my tale)
    is that you’d know what I have done
    down to the bittiest detail,
    how things were ended and begun.
    I think my story’d shock and stun.
    My memoir’s not quite your milieu:
    Shhhhh – or else I’d have to kill you.

    ###

  25. “I don’t think anyone should write their autobiography until after they’re dead.”
    Samuel Goldwyn

    INCOMPLETE…

    By: Nurit Israeli

    In the play that is my life
    there is no script and
    there are no rehearsals.
    I am making things up
    as I go along.

    In the play that is my life
    there is no director
    to lead and oversee and
    no prompter to cue me
    when I forget my lines.

    There is still no title
    to the play that is my life.
    I know most of the story,
    but I cannot choose a name
    until I make sense of the ending.

    I don’t know how many acts
    are in the play that is my life.
    Whether it is long or short.
    Whether it ends slowly
    or abruptly in the middle.

    And when the curtain
    comes down, I don’t know
    how long or how short it will take
    for the play that is my life
    to be forgotten.

    So I improvise and I play
    in the play that is my life:
    There’s allure to the scenes
    that cannot be foreseen,
    my real and imagined −
    a yang and a yin.

    • The allusion to a play recalled a bit of Shakespeare for me, and “abruptly in the middle” sounded like a Goldwynism. In the main, though, this poem emphasized for me the notion that we all are improvising every day, and the final play will have to await the rewrite man. The concluding line wrapped it all up for me. Thanks for posting this; I enjoyed reading it and thinking on it.

      • Thank you very much, William. Yes, despite the impressive body of quantifiable data explaining human behavior, and in spite of the useful evidence-based interventions, we still improvise… I am often amazed by the courage needed to continue improvising – as we sort through the confusing uncertainties that make up the play that is our life. I am humbled by the complexity and grateful for the allure of this process. Still pondering the meaning of “final play”– struggling to pinpoint beginnings and the endings…

      • Thank you, georgeplace, for the nod of agreement. Yes – our best is good enough (especially when we can also enjoy playing in the play…)

    • Terrific, Nurit. This flows so well, meant to be spoken rather than read silently. It acts as a soliloquy, much as Hamlet’s. Thoroughly enjoyable.

  26. After Thirteen

    My pivot point from a “normal” child
    to an anxiety-ridden, depressive
    teenager – No. Why dredge up
    the years of sitting on one couch
    or another, trying desperately
    to understand myself, or those causes
    that never did pop up like lightbulbs
    over cartoon characters’ heads.
    I am not unique; so many people
    have similar stories, some, far worse.
    It is not my intention to whine
    about myself, or depress anyone else,
    except in accepted forms, like poetry.

  27. Secret’s Not Secret

    There’s too much I don’t want the world to know,
    The inner thoughts and longings of my heart,
    What makes it beat, what makes the workings go;

    I don’t know how I’d write without my heart,
    Without telling everything about me,
    And I’m sure you wouldn’t want me to start,

    Cause then the world would really, truly see
    The side of me I’d like kept to myself,
    The deepest things reserved for God and me:

    Secrets wouldn’t be secret anymore,
    The latch would be broken on this dark door…

    © Copyright Erin Kay Hope – 2014

  28. I recommend an article in yesterday’s (June 14th) NY Times’ Sunday Review / Opinion, by William Logan: “Poetry: Who Needs It?”
    “The way we live now is not poetic. We live prose, we breathe prose, and we drink, alas, prose…” http://nyti.ms/1kUW1AB

  29. Still Dreaming

    Still dreaming
    Still searching
    Still asking questions
    as basic as who am I?
    Not looking back
    on a long list
    of accomplishments
    like others my age.
    Just getting started.
    My auto biography
    would be more like
    a choose-your-own adventure.
    Your guess of what happens next
    would be as good as mine.

    • oh, Connie, I love this one, love, love it, even before I saw you had written. Esp. the “choose your own adventure” line. And as someone of a similar age, that’s the way I have to look at life, at what amazing things lie ahead instead of feeling like the best lies behind me. . .

    • :) Connie, you speak for many here. Whatever plan we make, few can map the final destination of any given, chosen path, so how can one tie the knots between then and now and what can be? Terrific poem.

  30. Blockage

    There’s a blockage in my chakras
    The passageway is clogged
    The. ‘I think i can ‘ engine
    Has come to a T halt
    I think I need some talking
    To that buried little quell
    The one that hides her extras
    From even her own self
    The sword has gained momentum
    The pen has spilt its ink
    We need a revolution
    To reverse this story’s think —-

    • Wonderful poem, Priti! I love how you approach the subject and the perspective you take. This could hand on the wall of my office and apply so well on so many days. Love this.

    • This is wonderful; the allusion to health (or lack of it) is funny and yet thoughtful, and the concluding rhyme left me with a broad smile.

  31. BETTER LEFT UNREAD

    As stories go, mine’s not unique.
    I’m partly poet, partly geek,
    a humdrum person, so to speak.

    I’ve never been what some call wild.
    In truth, I’m rather meek and mild,
    not radical nor flower child.

    I’ll never be a movie star,
    excite the crowd with my guitar
    or drive an F1 racing car.

    I don’t keep house, don’t even cook,
    can’t figure out a crochet hook.
    Things I don’t know might fill a book.

    But who on earth would want to read
    what I’ve become by thought and deed?
    Who’d waste their time on such a screed?

    It’s just a life, in simple terms,
    and as I hope this piece affirms,
    let’s leave alone that can of worms.

    © Susan Schoeffield

    • Your “can of worms,” it seems to me, is what used to be called, “salt of the earth.” I think this is is superb piece, and the monorhymes all work well; nothing forced. Great job, in my opinion.

  32. Pingback: Better Left Unread | Words With Sooze

  33. Great to see you at the helm again William, truly — you have such a deft hand.

    THE DARKER SIDE OF ME
    (As if there could be one…darker
    than the one that’s known I mean)

    An open book, candid, out-spoken
    She tells it like it is – that’s who I am
    You can ask anyone…friends, family,
    people who hardly know me

    If they were told there was a mysterious
    part of me, a dark side I didn’t put out
    there for public consumption
    My guess is, most would shake
    their head, say no, that’s not possible
    She’s so honest…probably the frankest
    person around

    True enough, as far as it goes
    I don’t lie if I can help it
    But sometimes I don’t tell
    the whole truth maybe?

    A long-time peacenik, a dove, a flower-child
    Yes, admittedly, a left-leaning, liberal wing-nut
    Pro-life, anti-war, anti-death penalty,
    and all the things that go along with this
    political mindset
    It’s how I think, how I live, what I write about.

    What I don’t talk about, what doesn’t show up
    in my bios, or even in my thoughts, mostly,
    is how much I like to shoot guns;
    all sorts of guns…
    How good a shot I am actually, even
    though I don’t hunt.
    Would I shoot a person? I don’t think so…
    I used to be able to honestly say, and without
    hesitation, “of course not”.

    As anti-death penalty as I’ve always been, as
    I still am,
    there are certain people who I’ve come to believe
    are not candidates for rehabilitation.
    I didn’t use to believe in evil and I did use
    to believe in God
    Those beliefs have pretty much switched places,
    and while it wouldn’t be often, it would be true,
    there are some slices of evil,
    I know I could put to death myself—be it pulling
    the switch, releasing the poison, whatever it took.

    I do not believe that every person who perpetrates
    abuse against children is mentally ill,
    especially some parents who kill their own babies.
    I think they need to be put out of their misery.
    That doesn’t make it into my mind often, not to
    mention my autobiography…

    As I read back over these lines, I find myself
    wondering who this person could be.
    That’s how alien they appear to me now.
    But that’s now…
    When I wrote them, they were true,
    and sometimes, they still are.

    • I like this very much because it shows evolution in action in one’s life, though I imagine some (maybe you) might call it devolution. It’s also dynamic, as the last stanza makes clear.

    • wow, Sharon. This poem is so you yet even more you (or perhaps not you). I like the conversational tone of it and the last stanza really wraps it all up perfectly.

  34. Thank you William, for your, as always insightful remarks. I hesitated to write this. Then to post it. It’s pretty dark all around but then so is the side most of us don’t want to look at, I think…And I agree with you, after many years, the way one evolves can feel like a devolution but it is, as the saying goes, what it is.

  35. You never know were a prompt will take you. My muse has gone all architectural on me today.

    Why She’ll Never Write an Autobiography

    When it comes down to importance, she knows she’s
    not the Sistine Chapel. As far as being known goes,
    she can’t claim to be the Notre Dame Cathedral,
    nor any lesser known gothic building with magnificent
    arches and vaulted ceilings, fabulous facade, outer
    walls decorared with gargoyles and delicately crafted
    stone towering high up to the heavens. That’s not her.

    She considers herself more of a Romanesque church,
    still beautiful in her own right but with more simplictic form,
    (though not boring) built with stout columns and study piers,
    a much wider base to keep the sheer weight of itself
    from crumbling down. Unlike more ornately-designed
    places of worship with grandiose windows being

    a major focal point, bringing light and a welcoming
    feeling, the Romanesque windows pale in comparison,
    generally tiny, as the force of the massive walls would
    collapse into themselves if they included larger glassworks.
    These small windows don’t offer much to visitors; no angelic
    streams of light that make the inside seem more than what it is.
    From the outside looking it, they offer but a glimpse, if that, of
    what is held inside. She likes her windows that way.

    • This is a fascinating metaphor (I presume) and a fascinating poem to read. I’m fond of medieval architecture anyway, so I could imagine many old cathedrals as I read, and got to wondering about “Romanesque” and “Gothic” folks. The small-windows analogy is a shrewd way to speak of a secretive or close-to-the-vest person, in my opinion. I think this is a superb piece of work.

  36. thank you, William. And yes, this poem is full of comparison. The person considers herself interesting but not good enough for an autobiography (a smaller church and not cathedral) yet at the same time she is not sure she wants the world to know all that lies inside (the small windows looking in).

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