poems

Be Prepared or be Dissappointed

12/31/1989

 

Be Prepared or be Disappointed

 

We have to know what to expect from life. Otherwise, we are very apt to become disillusioned and bent out of shape by a world full of disappointing surprises.

There must be realistic preparation for the conditions we will encounter—and the possible situations in which we will find ourselves.

“Fore-warned is fore-armed.” Very true.

How many of us find life totally different from what we expected?

And why?

How do we grow up and mature with entirely unrealistic expectations?   And with no capability to adapt to the conditions we find—even if our expectations weren’t that far off?

What need we do to be better prepared for the real world? Not necessarily to conquer it. Just to live in it with some degree of self-satisfaction and mental ease.

Obviously, we must learn more about this real world as we grow in it. And not just facts and numbers. Not just a mental accounting of our world. There is much more than that to “understanding” our world and our role in it.

A large part of that job is understanding ourselves. How many of us can claim that ability?

Another important step is understanding others.

None of this is easy to accomplish.

In order to understand anything, we must observe it, study it, think about it.

There are guideposts and clues sprinkled throughout life. They will help lead to understanding, if we will look for them and use them.

Little in life is new. Much is new to each of us, but not new to life.

“Research” is a key to understanding and preparedness in living. If we can see and understand the basic patterns of something, like life, we can better anticipate future events.

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poems

Expriences Change Life

 

1/1/1990

Experience Changes Life

(What Reality?)

 

We are products of our experiences. Not very profound, but an idea worth thinking about.

A step farther—we develop in accordance with how we react or respond to our experiences.

So there exists a strong likelihood that the longer we live—to have experiences—the more likely we will continue to change . . . either to expand into new views and shades of belief, or to move more deeply into entrenched attitudes.

Most new experiences bring us additional evidence of views already held (because we tend to support and reinforce our believes).

But sometimes new experiences create conflicting evidence which forces reconsideration of ensconced beliefs.

Every personal attitude falls somewhere within a broad spectrum of belief on or about any given subject. Our personal conviction about any belief can rest anywhere in this band of acceptance or rejection.

And as long as we entertain (accept) admission into our consideration of information on any subject, our position on this spectrum-band can shift around (if we will allow it) in accordance with our reaction to received and perceived information.

The ideas which develop in our experience. . . from our experience. . . determine these shifts in position.

No information falls into our conscious (and/or subconscious?) awareness without becoming part of our calculation of life’s experience and computing out into a portion of an attitude . . . (belief, idea, conviction?).

And the result is our conception of realism, for the moment.

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poems

Values–and how they vary

 

12/14/1989

 

Values – and how they vary

 

My first bicycle was a rebuilt, used bike that was newly painted red and looked beautiful to me.   Nothing fancy. But it balanced well, so it could be ridden “no hands” while I folded newspapers which I delivered in order to earn the money to pay for the bike.

It cost nine dollars. That was a large piece of change for the times and a huge amount to me. It was 1934. I was ten years old.

I bought the bike from Tommy’s Bike Shop. I don’t remember if the shop sold new bicycles. It might have had a few. But the bikes I remember on the sidewalk outside the shop and the ones in the crowded interior were ones that Tommy had fixed up to look new.

The experience of working for that bicycle was reinforced by many similar experiences since then, and is the basis of a value system developed and nurtured as a result of these experiences.

Thus are values learned. Some change over time. Some are forgotten. New values sometimes are adopted.

And by this matrix of values do we live. They become our rules of conduct, the basis of our moral decisions.

But not all values come from experience. Some are taught. Sometimes wrong            .

Willingly or not, they are the yardsticks by which we measure others . . . our laws of judgment (for which we should seek forgiveness!).

 

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poems

2/19/1990

Writing . . .

These are just my ideas about writing. No one has to agree with them. Probably I won’t agree myself!

Like anything else, writing is best done—and done best—if you want to do it . . . and feel like doing it. It’s a tough row if you are trying to write to meet a deadline, or because you feel you “should” do it, or for any number of other reasons.

I find it easier when I am trying to express a thought or an idea that is scrambling around in my mind (like now).

I find it most difficult when I decide I should be writing something.

I’m not talking about sitting around waiting for “inspiration.” That is a very amateurish idea. A professional writer must write, and when he is dealing with a defined subject, then he works at the craft of writing.

I do not mean to say for a moment that you should write only when you feel like it.

And, of course, the subject and the purpose help determine the circumstances about which I speak.

You must know your subject through experience or research.

Like in anything else, we do best what we enjoy doing.

And, as with many other crafts or talents, practice makes a great deal of difference. We should improve with practice and experience.

Do it!

There are many types and forms of writing. The writer can work in a few or in many of them. That’s petty much up to the writer, I guess.

You can argue for specializing and perfecting your talents in a few, or for spreading your talent to many. Who is to say about that? Pretty much an individual choice, I’d say. Again—go where your interest takes you. Follow the wandering star of your desire.

Write it as you see it and as you feel it. Keep it genuine. The reader is difficult to deceive. Usually he knows (it shows!) when the writing is skirting the edge of fact or feeling.

Likewise, it shows through when the writer knows his subject and is dealing with it honestly.

A writer must be honest or very clever.

Sound advice to a writer once heard: “Do not use everything you know about the subject. Leave the reader with the impression there is even more.”

Credibility and the reader’s acceptance and enjoyment are the only keys a writer has for getting back through the door to the reader another time.

“Clever” is fine if you are clever. If you are not, and you try to be, it is worse than just “not clever.”

Play it straight. Be what and who you are. Whether or not you are popular or entertaining (as determined by someone else) you can be honest (determined by you) and that’s no small change in life’s cash register.

There are plenty of clever writers around. We always can use more honest ones.

So–what do we mean by honest writing?

I’m not talking about not lying to the reader. Purposeful deceit usually is rather apparent to a reader with any common sense. There is enough information around for comparison—depending, of course, on the subject.

Be honest. I mean first of all—be honest with yourself. Again, depending on subject, it is true in most cases that advocating a particular point of view limits the writer in his approach and coverage of the subject.

That’s OK if that is all he sees. Then he is reporting from a particular perspective—not necessarily “slanting” the information.

The reader deserves all the available information. He is capable of deciding for himself what he will favor or disapprove.

A writer is not honest with himself when he is censoring the information he is processing in order to sell a particular idea. And an astute reader (of which there a too few!) generally will know this.

I am not advocating spotlighting “all the warts.” But if they are there, let them show.

Right here let’s recognize that there is legitimate “white-wash and advocacy writing. Everybody is selling something. But honesty requires that it be recognized as such and not passed off as “unbiased” and both sides of the subject.

Anyway, I was speaking of honesty of the writer, and that goes even deeper.

This involves the writer’s approach to the subject and his attitude toward the reader. The honest writer wants and tries to see all the information. And he tries to give the reader as complete a coverage as he can.

I seem to be concerned here with reporting. How about fiction, or poetry, or an essay. Still room for honesty, I believe.

Let’s have the writer’s honest feelings—not an artificial or sensationalized, or commercialized approach.

Have to think more about this.

 

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poems

Foreign Culture?

 

12/14/1989

 

Foreign Culture?

 

We look across oceans and national boundaries at “foreign cultures.”

We could just as well look back a few years in our own communities, and even in our own families, to discover a culture which is becoming more and more “foreign” to how we live today.

Perhaps “culture” is not the correct word. Try “morals”, or “outlook”, or “social values”, or any number of labels meant to convey the meaning of how we live today and interact with each other and with various segments of our community and our society.

Possibly “culture” goes too deep, and actually signifies more than I can encompass in this thought I am trying to develop. But I do mean “the way we live . . . the values we embrace . . . the things we respect . . . the expectations we cherish . . . the world in which we believe we live!”

These are the things which I believe have changed. Not just the surface things—the technology, world politics, national and international attitudes. I am talking about personal attitudes and

values . . . how I look at me, not just the world around me . . . how I value me . . . my willingness or unwillingness to face myself and how I feel about it when I do!

Of course we are products of our time and all times are not the best of times.

But is seems to me that some of our better social/cultural/personal values develop in times that are not considered “the best of times.”

In fact, there appears to be a track record of better values in poorer times and poorer values in better times.

Perhaps things are more appreciated when earned with some effort.

Think more about this! (This is the lament of every generation!)

 

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poems

Chiesa San Francesco Saverio

A small church in old Roseto, Italy

 

Chiesa San Francesco Saverio, small and trim, sits shouldered

close about by houses, old and a few new,

well up the hill from lower down, a stone’s throw,

if the arm is strong, from the upper reaches of the town.

 

Straight lines and true, a single bell the only tenant of the peak;

a belfry small but arched and carved, topped by a ball and cross,

looking down upon a street steep and narrow where

slow of foot but fast on wheels, scant traffic passes by.

 

Above the doors a scripted lintel tops adornments carved,

while farther up a cross and chalices in stone

declare its purpose though its architecture tips

toward Greek and Roman motif in design.

 

Stones sparsely plastered with cement give texture to the front;

white balustrade tops off the structured wall,

stone slab steps from cobblestones lead worshipers inside,

smoothly welcome all who would approach.

 

Scarce eight full paces measure off the width along the walk

which fronts the narrow building crowded in

between its neighbors which are pressing from both sides,

yet it holds its place with dignity and grace.

 

This is the church high on the hill in old Roseta, Italy;

it tests the strength of those who worship here.

When the lone bell calls, the answer is the tramp of many feet,

on cobblestones they troupe to service in the hallowed hall.

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Out Of Combat

2/28/12

The wounded lay on litters along the beach, waiting to be evacuated. The litters, with occupants, were carried out into the water to be deposited onto rubber rafts which were moved out into deeper water where the loaded litters were transferred to Higgins boats which, with the load of wounded, headed out to the convoy of transports and combat vessels farther offshore.

The boat he was aboard pulled up to the stern of a destroyer where the litters were hurriedly deposited on the low fantail and pulled aboard by crew members as the Higgins boat powered away.

Next stop was a make-shift surgery in the destroyer’s officers’ wardroom where numerous wounded awaited help and attending crewmen did their best to provide aid and comfort.

In the center of the room was a table with a wounded marine on a litter. Two crewmen, one on each end, held the litter and the marine securely on the table as a navy doctor administered to his wounds. The doctor was supported by a sailor on either side who helped him remain on his feet. He had been at this task a day and a half with an infected foot.

Casualties lay on the deck. A few sat, leaned back against a bulkhead. He watched as an attendant attempted to help a wounded marine swallow a spoonful of soup. The casualty’s mouth and neck were torn and bloody. A bullet had pierced the side of his face and his neck through his mouth. The soup went into his mouth, but leaked out the hole in his neck as he tried to swallow.

He was offered a slice of canned peach from a bowl containing three small slices. His only nourishment for a day and a half was a bit of shattered coconut. He was famished. At first sight of the food he was angered that it was all he was offered. As he gulped the piece of peach he yearned for more. But as he swallowed, he was amazed that it was all he could take of the food. He declined the other two slices.

When his litter was lifted to the table, he was told there was no anesthesia. As his trousers and shirt were cut away, the sailor holding the head of his litter offeredhis hand for him to squeeze. The other crewman handed him a bullet to bite on.

The doctor spoke to him quietly, explaining what he was doing as he examined the shattered leg and torn hand and arm.

He suffered more anxiety than pain. One of the effects of shock is pain-dulling numbness. In addition, before evacuation he had by mistake received a double dose of morphine. He was able to follow with some interest the doctor’s discourse.

He was told his leg was being put in a temporary cast for transportation to his next destination, one of the troopships in the convoy. It was most important that the cast come off immediately for further treatment of the fractures and other damage to the leg.

The hand and leg also would receive further treatment. The doctor emphasized again the importance of removal of the leg cast and said he was attaching a note to that effect to the cast.

During his time on the table, the destroyer at intervals shook with the firing of its big guns, requiring the crewmen holding the litter to cope with the shock and lurch of the vessel.

It was several days later that he was able to convince the medics on the transport to remove the cast. When they did, they rushed him to the surgery ward where he spent the rest of the voyage to Pearl Harbor and Aeta Heights Naval Hospital.

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