Poetry: On Raising Teens

I recall, eons ago, when I was neither adult nor child,
during a phase of life known as adolescence
or numerically, being a teenager.

I also recall later being
a male adult parent to three, at one point—
all three almost simultaneously fitting
the technical teenager definition.

We all age up, but teeny boppers, as was once
a more affectionate term, stay the same.
Someone is always oddly 13, 15, 17, or some
age of that hormonally unbalanced
and the musically misguided post-pubescence.

I recall that back then, I was often bored unless
in the midst of violent volcanic eruptions,
and even then, given time, I found them dreary.
Almost everything of interest
involved getting into trouble, things which
I confess to doing with reckless abandon.

Now I look around and see grandchildren,
mostly in some phase of teenage-ism,
some exhibiting familiar behavior, some not.
I see parents, once teens themselves, distraught
over viewing in their progeny reflections of
their former life, a past they seldom
confess or want to remember.

I have no solutions and few suggestions for
those raising difficult teen personalities, like me,
like them, maybe like my parents in the
years of the Great Depression or
WWI or II. But I smile slightly
and I sympathize greatly.

Two things in life are not for sissies:
raising teenagers and getting old. That,
having done both, I can swear to. But,
in the long run, they are worth it.

May we all live long, prosper,
and remember. “Tomorrow, and
Tomorrow, and So Forth.”

Look both ways as life transitions. Be mindful of the gaps in denial.

Poetry Report: October Poems

Even if I was bad at math (I’m not), with 61 days remaining this year, I have written more than 300 poems during 2019, beginning with my commitment on New Year’s Day. Writing at least one poem each day has been more of a learning experience than I expected. Originally, I thought it would be difficult but fun, and it has been, but I wondered if I could manage it every day for a whole year.

An unintentional consequence has been that I read much more poetry and I’ve bought more poetry books this year than ever. I’ve also become comfortable trying to write a poem about anything at any time. Sometimes I have no idea where it will go—I just sit down and write. A poem happens (no claims for first draft quality).

I’ve written around the clock. With my pen or laptop at my fingertips, I have composed poems during the wee hours after midnight, before dawn and at sunrise, before and after breakfast, at mid-morning with coffee, while dropping crumbs of my lunch onto my poesy, before and after dinner and while drinking wine or coffee (sometimes too much).

I’ve written them in the car as Yolonda drove, in coffee shops (alone or with groups), at meetings, on my back porch, in other people’s back or front yards, in my daughter’s kitchen, and in every room of our house except the garage and bathrooms (but I should, right?). Using sights or happenings for prompts, I composed while cooling my heels in waiting or examination rooms, while sitting, standing, or on the lie. I have composed mental poems that are never written down, but they don’t count.

Except when I use prompts, like Sammi’s weekender, at writer’s group meetings, or during NaPoWriMo in April, topics are virtually random thoughts or events. Billy Collins even wrote a poem about people telling him there’s a poem in that. I try to write as soon as a thought occurs to me.

I’ve now happily welcomed poetry as the biggest part of my writing life, with encouragement from friends, family, readers, and other poets/writers.

The titles of the 31 poems I wrote each day during October were:

  1. Hard Times Were Had by Us
  2. Shots and Jabs
  3. Choose Your Role
  4. Old Feelings
  5. I Need an Answer
  6. Haven
  7. We’re Number Two
  8. Old Man in My House
  9. Music in Me
  10. CSL (Clive Staples Lewis)
  11. Projects
  12. Irreplaceable Love
  13. Relief Strategy
  14. Too Much
  15. Fallen Pride
  16. Debatable
  17. Art in Us
  18. Your Own
  19. Where Goes the Candlelight?
  20. Aurora
  21. Oldies
  22. Risk & Danger = Life
  23. My Lucky Tree
  24. I could have been a Poet
  25. Road Trip Pits
  26. Saturday at Dawn
  27. The Sunday Marathon
  28. On Raising Teens
  29. Fortuna Redux
  30. It’s All Just Stuff
  31. Times Around

Trust no one.
Look both ways on one-way streets.
Mind the gaps with a skeptic’s crown.

Poem: Sammi’s Weekend Prompt 129 (a)

Click to hyperlink to Sammi’s page

***

Saturday at Dawn

As I sit at Julie’s kitchen table discussing worries
Special cats pass making cat comments and the dog smiles.
Do they know human life is not what they think?
Later, at dusk’s twilight, we’ll discuss solutions,
All because we live in an imperfect world.

***

Look both ways from dawn till dusk.
Mind the gaps lest they intrude like an ignored horse.

Note: I decided to use Sammi’s weekend prompt for my Saturday and Sunday poems. That is what a weekend is, right? So, there shall be another 44-word twilight poem tomorrow.

Poetry: Cut Throat

After being an Air Force officer for several years,
after being an enlisted dude for four years, and after
the oddly trainee controlled officer
training school, then flight training,
survival training, combat crew training
and many other experiences
that I have long since forgotten,

I was assigned to the Training Command
as a flight training instructor and commander.

An old instructor of mine was still there,
but he had been away to USC
to get his PhD.

He described command
flight training as a thousand officers
standing knee-deep in chicken shit,
stabbing each other in the back.

I found that description to be
remarkably accurate.

Look both ways in competitive careers.
Mind the gaps and where you step – and check six!
(motherfucker)

Poetry: Shots and Jabs

I was 18, standing in a line or queue up of young men like me,
Kennedy was dead and LBJ faced off with a cool-named
guy called Barry Goldwater. It was basic military training
in San Antonio, Texas, near where I would later spend
more than 16 years of my life.

Up ahead stood four medical corpsmen with what looked like
space age weapons called jet gun vaccinators, with small
deadly vials on top and compressed air hoses attached.
Later they learned these were spreading diseases
like hep-c, luckily not into me.

When the corpsman’s aim was bad, a sliced bleeding arm
could send a sad lad to fainting, out cold, falling,
rolling down the nearest bloodstained hill.
We got so many shots
we had to keep a little yellow book as a shot record,
that included things like typhoid and yellow fevers.
And other shit I’d never heard of or wanted.

They call it parenteral since you don’t swallow it
(remember polio vaccine on the sugar cubes?)
so the names are always intra-something like
-muscular, -venous, -cardiac, -articular; and get this,
intracavernous is a jab at the base of a man’s penis to
check and treat for erectile dysfunction.

I’ve had so many shots and jabs, most required for my job,
as military we go to places folks have such diseases.
Now, I’m a walking pharma needing boosters for old men.
I took the second of the new shingles jab last week, next month
they will shoot me with the flu (extra strength for old farts),
a disease I may get anyway — like I did last year.

I saw an advertisement for old people to get whooping cough shots
so as not to infect the young ones, who spend a good bit
of their time infecting the older ones. I think my whooping
immunity was the hosting of the disease itself, as it was with
mumps and measles and who knows what all I got into.
The chicken pox never really left, ergo shingles.

Nowadays, I get my shots at the grocery store along with
bread and milk and maybe some wine. No white clad corpsman,
no jet guns or four shots at a time. I decide. Three different
shingles shots and six weeks with a case of that pox-related
nightmare virus, I sure hope my immune system
fends off any of that painful shit, shingles.

 

Look both ways and thank science and immunity for better health
at the cost a poke. Mind the gaps,
a compromised immune system invites trouble.

Poetry: Forgave You – Not

I opened the door and walked into a crowded room.
People, most I did not know, were sitting around,
all seats taken. I had a right to be, and should have been,
invited to the meeting, but since I’m a half-breed — excluded.

Everyone stopped talking and stared at me. I knew I was
the unwanted black sheep in a room of wolves and vultures,
there only to devour carrion and pick the bones of the dead.
Something in my nature delighted in their obvious discomfort.

They declared the meeting over and said I should have
been there. I did not ask the location of my invitation.
I thought, y’all low life vulture mother fuckers,
but I said, “No problem. Things will somehow work out.”

Oh, the sweet feeling of justice and the touch of revenge,
oh, the fine fit of the suit called, we’re even.
Did they think I would not know or gain?
I almost felt guilty for twisting the knife,
but guiltlessly I prompted their pain.
Putting things right feels real nice.

Look both ways in rooms empty or full.
Mind the gaps. That’s where the evil hides.

Poetry: Boys Only

Jimmy and me, and his sister June,
all about the same age
of seven or eight were standing
in the alley behind my house.

On that day I did not know
that in seven or eight more years,
me and June would share the experience
of lost virginity, the one and only day
she did not spurn my teenage romantic advances.

We three friends were all shirtless and discussing
whatever pre-pubescent children talked about
in the 1950s, when the shrill voice of their aunt
Dorothy demanded June not remain shirtless.

June did not get a satisfactory answer to her ‘why?’
(did we ever?), only that girls don’t do topless.

I looked June over, brown hair to barefoot toes
and could see no reason but forced socialization
of such things was commonplace and
in some circles probably still is.

Jimmy and his aunt died years ago. June is
a great-grandmother and we don’t keep in touch.
That’s too bad. I wonder what June remembers.

Look both ways before removing your shirt in the alley behind my house.
Mind the gaps, not the nipples, and aunt Dorothy, too.