June 3, 2011

Max’s Musings

By Max Molleston

I have not searched the columns I’ve composed for the 50+ crowd, but I don’t think I have ever stated how I got my start in poetry. I am a writer and have been since I was 13, 60 years in my past. Many of you know about forgetting stuff that far back.

Fast forward. I was 46 and didn’t drink anymore. Next goal was to stop smoking cigarettes. In steps a female disc jockey at the WHBF radio station, Joanne Wright, with a radio name of Jessie. In October of 1981 she said, “I think I’ll quit smoking.” I agreed to team up with her, and my last smoke was the last day of October, 1981. I had dabbled in poems, and as a grateful new non-smoker, asked “Jesse” how old she would be. She replied 24, and I said, “OK, I’ll write you 24 poems for your 24th birthday.” Her upcoming birthday was February of 1982. The title turned out to be Caught in a Net. The book turned out to be my only “Cahpbook,” an old English term for a cheap way to produce a small book. The poems were short efforts. I was much more confident there than growing a poetry idea. I was, after all, a radio and TV journalist, and a concise story was the main goal. I like this one, which was read and discussed over Augustana WVIK by Don Wooten and Ronald Tweet. Tweet said there was some rhyming inside the poem.

Siren Song

A siren warns us away
But somehow draws us closer.

A siren tells us to go
But makes us want to stay.

A safe distance
That’s the puzzle.

Too far and we lose the excitement
Too near and we’re in trouble.

For those of you awake and alert now, those words can refer to a relationship or to an emergency situation which can threaten you, (the rhyme: wawy and stay, puzzle and trouble.) I have always enjoyed the following poem, playful, yet concise.

Red Light/Green Light

Stop and go love is hard on your heart,
one day you have to push it to start.

Play with the transition from friendship
to love, like shifting the transmission.

Be firm and make your selection,
sit back and enjoy the journey
with its stabilizers and shock absorbers.

All kinds of familiar driving imagery here. Shorter poems can come quick and not need much more thought or revision. A couple more short, short poems that seem clear in their launch and your recall.

Well Groomed

I combed through our acquaintance
and some feelings were torn out,
others fell free.

I brushed through our knowledge
of one another and it shone,
not brassy but more well kept
and under control.


I didn’t know you were
who you were.
You are who you are,
I have to learn that,
How to know isn’t told
To everyone.

Concise poems get feeling right to work with the range of human emotions. My goal is to be understood and to produce solid poetry (some with humor). These few continue to be good poems, because they can be understood, even if there is work involved to select the level(s) of the poet’s intentions. Since this book, I have composed probably 200 poems, some short like these, some longer. That is my story, and I am sticking to it. The July column may not be so revealing.

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