Bits of prose

A long time ago in a place far, far away, and long before I started writing articles and books on computer technology, I used to write poems. Well, I called them poems.

Recently, I found a folder of poems and decided to put my three favorite online. I’m aware that this could result in a mass exodus from Books & Bytes, but what the hey, we all have to live on the edge sometimes.

One poem is about breaking up; one was written in protest of war and conflict; and one is about the Holocaust. Three different subjects with one common theme of loss — from the personal to the profound.

Letting Go

This poem is about breaking up and landing on your feet.

Love Lost. Letting Go. We hold on with clutching, grasping hands.
Desperation. It really does hurt.
     Grasp a rose, and let the thorns sink deep.
     We choke the flower through fear of the release.
        As if...
            we can stop....
                 the pain...
     By not letting go.

Letting Go. It means loss and loneliness. 
What will I do without this person? 
I can't imagine life without him. It's really 
hard to smile and laugh and to enjoy just 
getting up each day.
     Hello sunshine and good-bye and 
     please go away.
     I would rather have clouds right now,
        As if...
            we can stop...
                the pain...
     by enjoying it.

Enjoying it? Yes! We throw ourselves into the loss and live within it.
That will show him! Look at what he has done to me! 
But guilt is an odd sort of weapon.
     With guilt as the hook and 
     self-pity as the line,
     the fisherman may catch a fish,
     that bites back. 
        As if...
            we can stop...
                the pain...
     by using tricks.

Tricks belong in magic shows, not in love. 
If you use tricks to keep a love alive, eventually it 
will turn ugly.
And then what will you have?
    The beauty of the dreaming is in the 
    Then you have something to carry 
    with you all day.
        As if...
           we can stop...
               the pain...
    by remembering the joy.

You can hold love within a memory. Tuck a little away 
somewhere in your mind. Bring it out to give yourself a smile
It's hard now, but it will get easier. 
Sometimes the true test of love is not the having,
but the loosing. 
Choose to walk away a better person.
    Walking away.
            You can...
               You can stop...
                  the pain...
     by just letting go.

Tommy Joe is Dead

I wrote this poem a long time ago, and it included references to violence in Tel Aviv and Rhodesia — hot spots at the time. I’ve modernized the references, but unfortunately, the sentiment is still fresh.

Tommy Joe is Dead.

Some would call it fate,
he died that day, that way,
that year.
Others would call it bad luck.
Those who loved him can only cry,
shake their heads and wonder why.

Tommy Joe is Dead.

Mom and Dad had high hopes, 
their boy would be the best.
All their frustrated dreams 
would be lived by him, through him.
He would be what they wanted to be,
and never dared.

Tommy Joe is dead.

Carrie was his love, his hope,
his future mate.
Together they would change the world,
make the world;
high hopes only youth can feel,
high dreams only youth can dream

Tommy Joe is Dead.

He could be your lover, your brother,
son or friend.
He could have been your father 
if fate, or luck, had been different.
He is a memory now, perhaps forgotten,
that most noble soul -- 
a person who died for a cause.

Tommy Joe is Dead.

He died in the jungles of Nam,
the streets of Ulster;
a young boy shot down in Uganda.
A nameless face, a faceless name,
all for a cause.
How sad, a young life wasted.

Tommy Joe is Dead.

The Burnt Offering

The television mini-series “The Holocaust” was first telecast when I was going to college. A history teacher at the school had a three day class on the Holocaust that I attended.

On the last day of the class, the teacher had us go to an auditorium where he showed film after film of the atrocities committed by the Nazis.

I attended the showing with a close friend who was Jewish, and she broke down in sobs during the films but wouldn’t leave. None of us could leave. Aside from the people crying, there wasn’t a sound in that auditorium — not a sound.

The poem “Burnt Offering” was a result of this day. I’ll never forget. Will you?

My eyes have been opened.
I can no longer plead ignorance 
because I know, and that knowledge 
will not leave me!

A thousand voices cry out, 
"Do not forget us, Remember!"
A million faces haunt my dreams.
The responsibility is mine -- 
not to forget, the Curse of Man.

We turn from the ugliness,
not in disbelief but in recognition.
We fear our inner animal.
To see ugliness in others,
is to see it within ourselves.

We fear that which is different.
We fear ourselves, and what 
we can do.
And we fear these fears, 
and hate steps in.

We turn from knowledge; the 
price of knowledge is responsibility.
We don't know if we have the strength
to accept, so we turn.

I will turn no more!
I will learn, though 
learning is pain.
And I will not forget the warning,
of the Burnt Offering.