The Day the Music Died

All the best ideas come to me when I’m driving or otherwise unable to stop and write them down. This ran through my head stream-of-consciousness style when I was listening to the radio while driving home from work yesterday….

I’ve always been fascinated with the 1970s. And the 1960s. And the 1950s. And on and on. I’m fascinated with the different cultural atmospheres, the music, the television, the politics. The current events. The way it must have felt to be alive at that time. I become obsessed with songs and ideas and people from the past. I want to understand those times even though I was not around to experience them. I am thoroughly disappointed that we have not reached the age of time travel yet.

Time Machine

I’m still waiting.

On February 3, 1959, a small plane crashed in a cornfield in Iowa. All four passengers aboard the plane sadly perished. This included the pilot and three gentlemen: J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson, Ritchie Valens and Charles Hardin “Buddy” Holley, three of the most popular music acts of the late 1950s.

The music died that day for a 13 year-old paperboy in a small town in New York.

Don McLean is probably best known for his incredibly long, catchy and sometimes annoying song “American Pie” that debuted on America’s airwaves back in 1971. The chorus used to drive me crazy. And at eight and a half minutes, it was so damn long. But I eventually found that in between the jangly chorus repetitions were a treasure of memories and cultural impressions.


Headline, February 3, 1959.  The Day the Music Died.

As a young teenager in 1959, Mr. McLean had opened a stack of his delivery papers the morning after the crash and was shocked by the headline. He was a huge Buddy Holly fan and the singer’s death at the early age of 22 was difficult to swallow. Twelve years later, he wrote a song about it and how it affected him.

But the song wasn’t just about the death of Buddy Holly. It was about the change that occurred over the course of the next decade. How the innocence of the 1950s faded into the chaos of the 1960s. His own impressions of what happened, written as unconfirmed characters in rambling, disjointed story throughout the song. These characters included a king (Elvis), a jester (Bob Dylan), a quartet (the Beatles), birds (the Byrds), football players (protestors), Jack Flash (Mick Jagger), and a girl who sang the blues (Janis Joplin).

I listen and I lament that I missed all of this. I feel like I should have been there.

But I can feel it. I can feel the loss and nostalgia through his words. Though I will never know what that was really like to be there.

My daughter is getting older. She’s almost twelve and a lot of the formerly taboo topics are becoming necessary things to talk about. She read a book about the Underground Railroad this summer for her summer reading program and we had many frank conversations about the history of racism in our country. Although I wasn’t there, I could relay the facts that I knew. We stood on the shore of Lake Erie last week and I told her about the environmental disasters that lead to the lake catching on fire 40 years ago. Again, I wasn’t there. I wasn’t around to hear about it on the news or worry about it. I simply know it happened and relayed that information to her.

I like to think I know a decent amount of history, mostly because I find it interesting and we tend to remember what we find interesting. So I can tell my daughter about the War of 1812. Or about the Great Depression. In a matter of fact kind of way. Not in a really affected way. I can remember my mother telling me about the day Kennedy was assassinated. And it was more than just facts. It was how her teacher broke down and cried in front of the class. How numb and unsafe she felt when she walked home from school that day. The mood that settled over the whole country. Not just what happened.

I’m probably too young to be the know-it-all that I think I am. Not in any profound way.


Thanks for reading.


<a href=””>Learning</a&gt;

In the News: A Response

I want to thank Lizzi from The Well Tempered Bards for her beautiful response to my most recent post. She has kindly posted my poem and her response on her site, and I am now sharing that post with you.

I was honored to find that Lizzi had read my current events panic attack and used it to convey an important truth – we can’t just look away when things are ugly. It hurts to see all the pain and injustice in the world, but it is this pain and discomfort with the status quo that drives change.

And as compassionate citizens of this world, change in the face of injustice is our purpose.

The Well Tempered Bards

Love Wins

Sourgirlohio wrote the following, and it elicited a poetic response in me. She’s kindly allowed me to reproduce her poem, so you understand mine.

A troubled world will still exist
So pay attention if you dare
The horror of the evening news
Will rip your heart out if you care

View original post 212 more words

In the News

A troubled world will still exist
So pay attention if you dare
The horror of the evening news
Will rip your heart out if you care

A shooting mars another day
With evidence of senseless hate
When innocents are killed en masse
Their culture to debilitate

And then a privileged college kid
Would take what cannot be returned
Then blame the victim for his crime
Our system hardly seems concerned

The internet is hardly safe
They mark religion with a frame
Attempting a preemptive strike
With parentheses around my name

Election cycle politics
Have reached a new and frightening low
The issues haven’t lost their weight
But still get lost amidst the show

So with hope we’re hanging on
While the world appears to burn
And though we’ll never douse the flames
There’s still a chance that we could learn



Making Time

I haven’t had time to blog much.

I know when something is important, you make time.  Writing is important to me, so I have made time to write in the past few months, but not to finish or edit anything.  I feel defensive playing the Working Single Parent card, especially when there really is no expectation to post.  Perhaps I just feel better having an excuse.

Yesterday was the last day of school.  And less pressure on Mini Me always means less pressure on me.  So I hope to find more time to write something worth posting.

I’ve yet to comment on the current political situation here in the United States as I am not proficient in writing horror.  I like gorillas but I love children, sorry.  Prince died and we all felt purple for a while.  If my brother makes me watch Deadpool again I’m going to vomit.  I won’t freak out if there is a boy in the girl’s bathroom.  In local news, I broke my toe, which now looks like a work of art combining a colorful blend of purples, pinks and deep blues.  And the Cavs….well, Cleveland sports will break your heart.

And now we’re caught up on current events.  I hope everyone is well and I will be trying to catch up on reading blogs this weekend.  If I missed something really great, leave me a link in the comments or tweet the link to me.

Thanks for reading!


Not a Love Song

A song I’ve heard a thousand times
Is less familiar than it seems
I’ve failed to note the discord
Between what I hear and what it means

And though I hear a happy song
Of peace and beauty in our time
A dedication of the heart
Wrapped up in a perfect rhyme

It seems this song is not of love
It’s often something so much more
So many songs that sound so sweet
Were penned to warn against a war

Some have no battles to protest
But rather speak of tragedy
Riots, drugs and serial loss
Insanity and apathy

So when I hear the pretty songs
I’m haunted by the hidden lore
Behind the melody I hear
I find what it was written for


Photo courtesy of



<a href=””>Music</a&gt;

The Art of Your Demise

Looking back upon my words
And the undeserving muse
One chapter in my lonely tale
But at long last, I paid my dues

Forgive me if I use your sins
The pain you caused to dramatize
Like songs of lost and broken love
I’m making art of your demise

So hanging now in effigy
My artist’s take on ghastly things
Now on paper, in the past
I’ve moved on to better things


Written for Matt.

Like many bloggers, I keep a backup copy of what I write in case the blog crashes or the internet dies or something. I was trying to categorize some of the poems….I think I can be a little more specific than “Morose Poetry”, right?

While sifting through my work, I noticed an unpleasantly large number of poems were written for an individual I have since dismissed. I felt ridiculous for a moment, at the amount of heartache I felt for such an undeserving specimen. But I realized, after re-reading the things I wrote, that I not only learned from the experience, but I was able to create something worthwhile from it. I lament that, when I eventually publish a book of poems, he will probably have an entire chapter dedicated to him.

I created something from carelessness. From disrespect. From selfishness.

And I’m proud of it. I’m no longer afraid to let the ugly things in life affect me. And I’m not afraid to write about them. And then leave them behind.

On a lighter note, I am happy to be back here after more time away. Things are looking up, because I am looking up. Thanks for reading.


Benefits of Writing Poetry

I have the pleasure of having Ms. Amrita Sarkar guest post on my blog today.  She blogs regularly over at Of Opinions.  While she primarily writes essay-style posts, she has been writing poems for the last year and has written a post explaining what she has discovered in a year of poetry writing.

Due to some unforeseen circumstances, my blog has been unusually silent during National Poetry Writing Month.  I appreciate Amrita stepping in with her thoughts to help keep the conversation going.  Please enjoy her lovely writing style, both here and on her blog.  She has a free flow to her writing that is brilliantly thorough.  My own essay writing tends to be condensed and over-edited, and I am always envious of her powers of expansion.


A year ago, I came to know of National Poetry Month. Reading gorgeous poems here on WordPress, I felt the desire to put up, at least, one of my own. I had put up a couple in the previous months. It was an immense achievement, considering poetry comes to me once every three years, if at all. By the end of last year though, again largely thanks to the WordPress community, I found my sporadic poetry writing to gradually become not so. I must have written about fifty in 2015, which is twice what I’ve written for the previous twenty years or so – my entire literate life. I still don’t consider myself a poet, but I have come to see some benefits of writing poetry, both for the poet and the prose writer.

A poem can be anything, of course, but being poetic is being essential and impressionistic with what you think and feel, and how you express it. Therefore, the first benefit of writing poetry is focusing on what is essential to the situation. In prose, whether it be fiction or non-fiction, and even in relatively sparer forms like drama, you write with the whole, panoramic view of the situation. Even if you are writing about one character, that may even be yourself in a confessional essay, there is still a necessity to put everything in its right place, to situate the idea or emotion in context. With poetry, you can do away with the panorama, and if you feel the inclination, you can suggest the context.

There is a saying – all drama is conflict. I’d like to modify it and say, all poetry is suggestion. Even if you paraphrase it mentally several times, keep trying to fill in prosaic blanks, you are faced with a fortress of words put together rightly so. Keats said of the poet’s ability to accept mystery, and it is a feeling both the poet and the reader share when they do poetry. By focusing on the essential, by suggesting the context, the poet gets to the core of the situation, while comfortably inhabiting the space of unknowing. It is a place of resting, of being, of taking in and giving out without the huff and puff of purpose that we paragraph-mongers can’t imagine a writing life without.

You look at a diamond, but you don’t think of where it came from, what it’s worth, what jewellery it can be made into, what insurance it requires. In your poetic freedom, all you focus on are the endless worlds inside that tiny thing, and it is enough to captivate you. That is the poetry of something that moves you.

But, more than paying attention to what is essential in life, it is the impressionistic capability of writing poetry that makes it such a rewarding exercise. Essentialism and suggestion are only the matter, impression is the form. And form is almost everything. I can write about love’s labour’s lost, so can you, but it is the forms we give them that would make them incomparably different. This can only be achieved by paying attention to words – how they work, how you can bend and reshape them if needed, what can be put next to what, what impression do they make as a whole. Even a punctuation mark, or lack of, matters.

Think of it as the pixels of an image. Say you had to divide a canvas, and then paint the image pixel by pixel, you had to get it just right. In a way, writing poetry is like writing code, because every individual element counts, as well as the overall story. As a prose writer, I find reading and writing poetry teaches me how words work – not language, grammar and other such technicalities – but simply the rhythm and marriage of a few words thrown together, to convey something unique for the time they have to be next to each other.

Simply notice the difference in the way you read poetry and prose. The latter is a much more unconscious absorption of information. Sure, you notice a beautifully constructed sentence, or an awkward one. But, you can move on from it, deciding to focus on the picture as a whole. But, the poem is the picture, every individual character and space is there for a reason. It is absorption at the utmost concentration. It captures you, it makes you work, it doesn’t explain everything away, and yet, you keep coming back to that frustrating thing.

I feel I need some clarity of purpose and good, old-fashioned inspiration for writing my awkward rhymings. I come from a very poetic culture, but I’ve found myself time and again a rambling, prosaic person. What a poet puts in a haiku, I have to write in ten long sentences. But, poetry is like music to me. There is a saying in musical theatre, that a character sings when it can’t speak anymore. I write poetry when I can’t be prosaic about something. When the panorama confuses me, and logic and reason confound me. I love the cryptic nature of poetry, because it just gets to the flesh and blood of the thing, caring nothing for the sights and sounds around it. It is liberating, exciting, irresponsible writing. But, I keep wishing I was better at it.