Storey of Christmas Concerto

My Memories of California and the Divorce,

We walked orange orchards two blocks away

From our home on Teechoe Road, in Ojai

A little town defined by oranges. I could walk

Below Coastal Range Mountains, Walking groves

Of Old Man Biggs, owner, richest man in midway

Town. He owned that ranch where orange groves

Grew in hectares of trees where fruit went to Sunkist,

Me with Little Walter when we were seven;

Skipped school, Walter  ground his Bad teeth,

Oh that smell would gag; we rode back of Biggs’ truck

Old Henry farmhand helped us sandstone grind on

Sandstone wheel, as boyhood, our Huck Finn

Rusted 10 penny nail and hammered knife blade

Into homemade fun, his favor for us; perpetual summer

Harvest; Walter and I walked the orange groves,

Figured we’d get 100 bucks for no work on crates

Of oranges, got only a candy bar from old man Biggs,

We did not work, but we rode atop a flatbed truck–

My Mom, and dad, splintering–my uncle George

Would make it right; he’d drive a U-Haul

Behind dad’s 58 new station wagon we stole.

We packed dad’s beagle dog, brother Dougie, Me

Into the back, and we drove to Iowa 1800 miles, dingey

Roads, three day motels; shit from our Tinkercad cat nearly

Escaped back to California; I learned to use by age 16

I learned to smoke pot,, drink  rum like a man.

In Iowa before; I was 17 I went to class stoned, but

Passed as an honor student; for graduation I returned

To California and Found dad after I was eighteen-

Years-old at Sierra Community College tenured;

Faculty. He was an Instructor; how I loved Him

From the start,  and his wife became my friend,

There were no drugs in that house, so I dropped

Out of that fine Grinnell, I was flunking anyway–

They had me study at Oregon State, 3.5 GPA

Then I studied German at Sierra College at the end

With 3,3 GPA, I flew to Europe for German Alps,

Lederhosen, Medieval Cathedrals, Hoffman

Mothers name; I’d clear her family name by “trucking,”

The Grateful Dead through Germany; I decided to prove

To mom her Name was better than all the Walters

Of the world; I drank too much beer, smoked pot, ate

Mushrooms, and by then I drank because

I had to; from the start; my heart was drinking;

I ate mescaline, took acid, drank alcohol by two liter steins.

My favorite drink was Pilsner beer. Then I hitch-hiked

Across Holland, then to Mainz along the Autobahn

Sold, my clothes to get by; my mother’s heartache

As she wrote to me, I went back to Grinnell College,

After summer job hauling garbage in Des Moines,

For my studies in  Munich I had graduated middle

Class grades because I worked in photo retail,

I spoke the language for nine months, sold one

Camera in four months, and the Store fired me;

I stolen film, but I passed the German tests

Certificate all day, and all night in pubs just to get

My language for  drinking , then somehow traveled

When Jeff, and his girl they offered a trip through all

Of Europe first Salzberg attended Segovia

Concert in Nuremberg; the greatest guitarist ever,

Our Seats amazed even us tenth row in every way

His great performance Bach, Corelli, Christmas Eve,

A ten minute standing ovation, four encores.

We lost our money in Zermatt, they stole Jeff’s

Camera, we drank wine under the Matterhorn sipped wine

In expensive Gasthaus restaurants, slept in five star hotels

We couldn’t afford Everything for nothing but memories

I could hardly ski, I fell in downhill on that hard ice

Almost shattered my knee to pieces, and at age fifty-

Five received My first  titanium replacement, at sixty-

Six the right knee repaired. we had insurance,

Thank God because I’d been sober thirty-one

Years, now walk mile easily in my town in South Dakota

Often ask myself “How’d I land here?” except wife’s home.

But then I drank three bottles of Cold Duck on international

Flight, dad had sent money, could hardly walk from plane

This year, 2018 finally I’ve made amends to dad

And celebrated my 67th birthday with him I’m sober,

And he’s 88. My mom died at 68 I wept The Book of John,

My step-mom died at 82 with Christ in her heart,  Marjorie,

Meaning pearl, is thankfully still with me, my wife, age 63,

Her shining silver scintillating hair, eyes blue she is

Still alive, still see our great accomplishment, daughter

Graduate student, Ph,D. candidate at 29, why I’m preoccupied

Finally, my brother Doug at 63 again in boyhood

Night is going back to see dad in California, Yes, next week

To see dad to he’s 63 there in California, his amends to dad.

Our daughter loved my step-mom at her burial I could not go

Was deathly ill in observation still my memory thirty-one

Years ago, ten to my God, my Jesus Christ I repented

Then every day is my final day but I’ve lived to see my mom,

Someday when I die, and Christmas my years, gone by

With dad, pizza in pub, his roast beef sandwich, half

Sausage. Yesterday no drink. I live simply now, pray

Without my daughter never drunk her whole 29-year-old life,

Laurel, mom like Daughter never saw me drunk 31 years

But I live in memory of lost teaching job, making myself

A fool in every step, rotgut vino, cheap vodka, cheapest

Whisky I could find, no name beer in white cans.

Walter, did you ever get new teeth, for me, thank God

I’m free. less smell, washed hands and soul, every step

For God, twelve steps each day, another prayer I’m free.



Published by elgwyn

I was a University and college writing teacher, now retired, so I write poetry, and essays, mostly free verse poetry. I love writing. Computers, tablets, and smart phones are the norm. When one sees university campuses with students looking at phones while walking to class, one realizes writing can be blogging. I am an ordinary man writing for artistic pleasure writing, and simple taste-- blogs are an answer to high priced self-publishing. Walt Whitman had to print his paper books himself, because in 1855, and 1860 poetry did not sell. It does not sell now unless you have a Pulitzer Prize and even then the poet usually makes a living in other ways than writing. In all ages there have been writers writing out of their own needs, and blogs are an answer to get rid of high cost of self creativity. I am an older man with fewer computer skills than my daughter who has been at computers since she was three, so here I can satisfy my need to write without spending too much on self-published books. All three blogs let me reach an audience missed by books and stand a better chance to reach a wider audience. My two books, Winter from Spring, Meditations on Gratitude, as Kindle books and paperbacks did not reach as many people as I wanted, and blogs can let me avoid the printer. Layout and design is expensive. For me writing is more like the charcoal jottings of preexisting civilization made only for posterity. Blogs face two problems as I see it. They might be submerged into a chaos of too much writing, and they depend on electronic storage. Yet, how's that different from electronic books which must have specialized publication? Paper disintegrates, blogs can be physically stored and organized for posterity in data banks. All organization becomes chaos at some point, but charcoal images on cave walls still exist after the author scribbled eons ago. So what if I reach only a few interested people, but hopefully, readers will reach out to me. Writing is essential for showing the ways of culture before history knows those ways. To record each individual is essential especial for billions of people who need to know enough reading beyond pictures to save a planet. Writing without profit isn't new to me. I'm not seeking to impress the audience. Poetry in general never sells, and personal confessional, and emotional writing exists sometimes like journal writings only for the author. At least here is my hope for wider audiences. My writing is personal and informal, but my writing expresses some serious ideas like the writing of contemporary writers to rise above chaos in my own simple way, above self-absorption, a meditation, the simple writing of an ordinary man. I hope to find my own way out of my own chaos and make my record stand alone if even in electrons. Though I hope never to express nightmare in my poetry, fiction, or essays, some serious considerations are important to me after centuries of mechanized nightmare. The next decade is probably of the same failure in our world. This decade looks to be another time of diminished individuals and the next as well. We all wish peace and hope will become normal. It looks like if hope reaches each individual, not governments there is satisfaction in making means of writing available to many. My hope is for each human being to give their own expression out of the abyss. If humankind is to survive in any common way, we must each be able to express maturity and take responsibility in something beyond self. Electronic media offers people these possibilities so long as computers can store individual lives. Here people can freely see what I write and what others write. Though I hold an MFA in creative writing my simple vision never found a wide audience. I was disappointed about this earlier in my life, but now it's just what one expects of such degrees. I found happiness in family and especially in love of my wife and daughter. Writing can be more than a pastime now that I'm older. I approach seven decades living with some disappointing times, and some satisfying times. I'm like most people, and I've been married more than 37 years, and we sent a successful daughter into the world. We happily live in a country where even the poorest have food. Often as a young man when I traveled for nearly one year through Europe, where does a culture begin to feed and house so many people, and how do all these people live in harmony since World War II? Maybe it's been a question of survival. Writers can hold a little corner with blogging, blogging for harmony and peace. This is my hope. This is my question.

2 thoughts on “Storey of Christmas Concerto

  1. Thank you for criticism–I’ve reworked the poem, and you are right–now it is a narrative with less awkward connections.It may need a little more proofing, but I’m not good at that, I will rework it again for my next book, Portraits of their Lives.


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