I knew nothing of
automobiles back then
except about how to drive
(not well) and add gas—
My first (legal) car
was twenty bucks—
I got it for fifteen;
(Dad didn’t know, yet—
he called cars “motors”
and expensive things “dear”)
but she said, “Oh, dear,
what’s wrong with it.”
I was about to learn so much
rings, pistons, and
timing points, and why not
grab hold of a bare spark plug wire
on a running straight six,
and about positive and negative.
Guys at school, the ones taking
auto mechanics shop classes,
(learning something useful)
were not the ones to ask
even though I took
English III (again) with them.
(I’m still grateful for how
smart they made me look
another story there.)
while those know-it-alls
claimed auto knowledge,
helpful they were not,
and I’d already bought
my old green Chevrolet
capable of burning
a quart of oil
per city block or
country mile—either way,
lesson learned late.
Learn first, then buy
(now I tell me).
And used car salesmen—
that lesson took a lot longer.
beware. Be aware.
Look both ways as time keeps on slippin’ into the future.
Mind the gaps, feed the babies, shoe the children, house the people livin’ in the street.
The day 19 poem prompt of the 2018 National Poetry Writing Month challenges me to write a paragraph that briefly recounts a story, describes the scene outside a window, or even gives directions. I was to erase words from that paragraph to create a poem, or to use the words of the paragraph to build a new poem. Here is my result of that effort, without the paragraph.
Envy ‘Neath a Window
With Mom I sat
As she was reading
Not to me – getting bored
On a raining summer day.
I’d catch some death of cold
She would say
From being wet with rain,
On that cool summer day.
Something ‘neath the window?
I walked to see a mouse.
I said no words, nor did he,
As I looked out the window.
My first envy feeling was seeing
Friends playing in the rain.
Making themselves damn fools.
I learned, in the adult version
Is as they call it, having a good time.
Damn fool for just sitting here.
“Mom, may I…?”
Envy. I felt it.
(Bill Reynolds, 4/19/2018)
Look both ways and love those rainy days.
Mind the gaps or hydroplane.
I’m opting out of the day 18, 2018 NaPoWriMo prompt. Instead, I wrote this poem.
Fight was His Game
Poor boy whose story we were told,
Danny was his name, fighting was his game.
Young and strong, with dreams of glory in his fists.
He fought to save his life, to be proud and ever bold.
Promised wealth with violence
Would bring so many gifts.
No warning was to move him
from his promised dream.
Boxing and his future, were both all agleam
It was his game, to be his fame, no one interfered.
In the pit of misery, while still just a boy
Trusting words of strangers, and what they had to say.
In the roaring twenties ring
he took the fighter’s stand,
Seeking victory and honor, with his body and his hands
Many marred and broken,
This Danny boy was all aflame.
Stepped into the ring, a fight to be his game.
Still looking for a young man’s fame.
Dan stood strong and determined.
He faced the champ, who gave that boy
quite a beating with a lesson.
Badly beaten, he lost the fight,
And all his pride went with it.
The champ made him a chump
looking too sad and lame.
Still more boy than man, with spirits badly broken,
He searched for work and asked for jobs.
A boy inside, with dreams gone south and broken.
Now the boy was older
In all the world’s wrong ways,
Now laying low without his game,
Still, Danny was his name.
(Bill Reynolds, 4/18/2018)
Look both ways and duck those punches, mind the gaps right cross.
Two memories from my youth relate to this post. I recall my mother frequently telling me that I was contrary. She would say, “Now Billy, stop being so contrary.” She could have chosen from many words: obstinate, difficult, stubborn, negative, or silly. Actually, that’s not true. She used silly a lot, as in, “Silly-Billy.” I actually liked being called silly and still do. Today, such a fun-loving attitude coupled with silly behavior would prevent a diagnosis of Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD).
As a youngster, I did have more than my share of confrontations with adults, especially those in positions of authority. I admit it. Mom was right (aren’t they all?). I was often contrary and many synonymous terms applied equally well. I confess that I enjoyed being difficult, most of the time. Sometimes, I paid for it. Some say I never outgrew my contrarian attitude.
The other memory comes from the time of my early to mid-teens. I don’t know where if came from, but we adapted a phrase for a while that was intentionally meaningless, but we said it – a lot. It was kind of an early version of whatever! We would say it to each other and often to adults. We always knew exactly what the adult retort would be. The locution was Yeah, but, or yeahbut. Today, the Urban Dictionary says yeahbut should be followed by f**k, but we seldom used those words in combination.
Most often, but is used as a conjunction to introduce something contrasting with what has already been mentioned. Adults insisted on asking, “But what?” We knew we were pushing buttons when we looked them straight in the eye and answered, “Yeahbut.” Silly kids, right? I confess to deliberately irritating adults given any opportunity.
However; yet, nevertheless, nonetheless, even so, still, notwithstanding, in spite of that, for all that, and all the same; I do like butts. Some more than others.
But this is about me being a but man. As I said, but is usually used as a conjunction. It is also used as a preposition (anyone but him), an adverb (to name but a few), or a noun (no buts, you’re buying). Add a t and it becomes slang for a body part. But is a useful word.
It is also a word that I overuse. In my writing and speaking, I am rightfully criticized for saying but too often. Twenty-one times out of 350 words so far in this post. But, it is the subject, after all (22). When I edit, I look for the buts and remove or change as many as I can. But not in this post. At the beginning of a sentence, that is most often when it is there, it changes nothing in terms of meaning. My use is not always as a contrasting conjunction. But there’s more.
I am a quiet, introverted man by nature. I’m not very shy. The larger and less familiar the group, the quieter I will be. I am happy to let anyone banter endlessly about virtually any topic with no sound from me. I listen closely and analytically (Usually – some might say I don’t listen at all). At some point I might say it. In one-on-one conversations; especially the heated, no attributions kind we have with trusted friends, I will eventually say something. My comments in such environs are often preceded with facial expressions and perhaps a raised eye-brow or two. Then out it comes.
“Yeah, but….” (or just but). Sometimes I fancy it up with things like however, on the other hand, consider this, did you know, or maybe so, but…. I can also be passive aggressive with things I learnt from the younger folk like whatever, ya think?, really?, or my personal favorite: No shit? I like to add Sherlock to that last one, but only when it wouldn’t be offensive (accidentally).
A couple of weeks past, I got to listen to my middle child (now 42) recite a verbal rampage on his view of politics and life, with all the arm waving and facial expressions to have gone viral, had I recorded and posted it.
I really enjoyed listening, even though I couldn’t get a word in until he finished. It was an enjoyable banter, indeed. To be fair, I could see myself. When he finished, I smiled at him and said, “Wow!” and tried not to roll my eyes. I decided that if I said ‘yeahbut’ I would have turned the page to the next chapter of his ranting objections to life in this real world. Sometimes, we just need to sit on our butts and keep our buts to ourselves. Yeahbut moments should be carefully chosen.