Sunday, January 8, 2012

Yearning For Change

Image from Lee Friedlander's work in the streets of New York
courtesy of Tess Kincaid at The Mag (Mag 99)

This one is an honest recounting of inner life in my own childhood.

Since Tess has written a similar poem I must wonder how many children of a certain age saw in Yul a father figure.

In my case the line of his face and his stern appearance plus his baldness added up to my dad in simple enough ways that allowed me to fantasize about another life. The travail in my life came from my own soul sickness (no matter where it came from) and then from social backwardness because of the isolation my illness caused.

My parents were decent and sophisticated folk, teachers, and they had my best interests at heart. They loved me as best they could. I yearned for a different set of circumstances, a feeling that persisted unrelenting from at least second grade on and came to a head in my adolescence. It peaked at the age of nineteen and nearly killed me.

How I survived my crisis, which involved yet another bout of illness at its start, a meningitis I caught at Fort Ord in 1964 is a complex story. I knew I was dying from age nineteen, a stress that lasted two years, and when I was "saved" at age 21 I knew that too, though I went mad at salvation's beginning. I went mad because the reframings caused by my inner changes were too radical to fit within my adolescent structure and I shattered in the key events. "All you need is love". Hah! Yes indeed, but beware.

In those days I could not talk about any of this. I did not have the words. In fact I have never really felt I have the words and don't still. Not really. That's why poetry and mythical story telling work best.

Yearning For Change

In all the other
ways I could think of to change
who or where I was
one was my dad as
someone else, as Yul Brynner.
My dad looked like him
to me though not to
others that much I must say.
I was a pale child.

January 8, 2012 1:23 PM


  1. I must add, I do not mean to imply that I was silent. That is just not true. I have struggled to express myself my entire life and when I am secure enough I will tend to dominate conversation. In fact arrogance is a serious defect in my character. I am a know it all of the worst sort because I work very hard to back up my bullshit with real knowledge. I know from my own experience how aggravating a person like me can be.

  2. Haha, I wouldn't know anything about that...
    I understand looking at a public figure and thinking of your father. For me it was John Ritter and John Travolta. I thought of my dad when I saw them, made it hard when Ritter died.

  3. I survived my childhood through fantasy. Unfortunately I brought that skill set with me into adult life and now all the balloons are popping and I'm not sure if I'm made of latex or string.

    Backing up your bullshit with knowledge sounds healthy to me, although I understand the annoyance of the know it all. It is far less annoying than the know it all who actually knows nothing.

  4. the last line is the one that separates the boy from his father, such an easy and important distinction.

    my father died.

    i did, however, spend a decade or so redefining myself away from my parents anyway, even my stepfather. we do these things, don't we, we reject in order to redefine.


  5. Annie, if the bs artist is actually right more often than not but the others have to play catch up, they are rooting for his wrong headedness. When the bs guy is right on top of it all it is not respect he gets but resentment. Often they will not even bother to find out because his error is "self evident" in his attitude. Worst of all, the resentment may be large enough that the other(s) will persist in error out of spite.

  6. Yes, Erin, it is the adolescent's job to rebel at least a little.

  7. thank you for being transparent with your own life now...i think your own story has power to touch others that may find them selves in similar...appreciate the honesty...

  8. I work very hard to back up my bullshit with real knowledge

    And I think many of us are thankful for both traits! LOL :)

  9. i can't believ how many people wrote about Yul Brynner in relation to their dad's. my dad's first cousin was best friends with his sister, and my dad talked about him a lot.

    days of cohan

  10. I found this fascinating .. my father died when I was 16 .. never daydreamed a replacement, maybe I should have.


The chicken crossed the road. That's poultry in motion.

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