Will I Never See and Elf? - Poems from 1976 and 1977

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Preface to the 1981 Volume

Will I Never See an Elf? is comprised of poems written during the years 1976 and 1977. My original intent was to have combined these poems, and those from 1978 and 1979 as well, with the poems which make up the volume Turning Tears Inside Out to create a single book. However, it became apparent to me that a single volume would have grown quite long and tiresome, and also that a certain ill-defined but discernable division existed in my work around 1975 or 1976. Therefore, additional volumes seemed more appropriate.

Prior to 1976, I wrote rather sporadically, particularly after leaving college and graduate school. The years between 1973 and 1976 were ones of considerable adjustment and turmoil. I had to make the transition from being a student to being a "working man"; from being single to being married; from naively romantic to reluctantly realistic. On top of all of this, I was working through the aftermath of a very special relationship, trying to understand my own irrational behavior in running away from someone who had been dearer to me than anyone else ever had. The poems in this collection reflect all these transitions, several of them inspired by the aforementioned special relationship. Unfortunately, a number of poems containing interesting images and thoughts are not included here, simply because they are still too closely connected to the above events.

During all these transitions, my poetry lagged (or so it seemed to me) both in quality and quantity. I felt I was losing touch with the oneness of being and the romantic exhileration with Life that had characterized my college days. One day, I realized that the self I valued most was in grave danger of being lost altogether. At that point, I called a halt to further personal compromise and vowed to regain as much of my old thought as I could while retaining all the good changes that had taken place as well. This conscious decision to return to former channels of thought is documented in my poem What Is the Inner Power.

With the composition of What Is the Inner Power it can be said that the current phase of my poetry begins. This work is the clearest indicator of the division in my poetry that serves to delineate the boundaries of this volume. Before 1976 I wrote seventy-seven poems in six years; beginning in 1976 I wrote another seventy-six poems in only four years. Part of the reason for this increased output is that along with a desire to return to my former ways of relating to the Universe, I consciously decided to embrace poetry more seriously. Poetry became a symbol of the idealism and romanticism I wished to recapture from my past. I still did not intend to become a full-time poet; but I wanted to write more consciously than before.

All in all, 1976 represents a major division in my life. The poems contained herein reflect all the transitions of the last few years and continue the developmental struggle begun in Turning Tears Inside Out. I hope the reader will enjoy this current volume, as he or she shares in my efforts to understand myself and my place within in the world--a world in which it is often very hard to find any elves!

Charlottesville, Virginia
May 11, 1981

Preface to the 1996 Web Collection

Technology has changed considerably since I put together the typed, spiral-bound version of Will I Never See an Elf? in early 1981. There was no World Wide Web then, and I had only a correcting typewriter to work with--not even a word processor! The advent of the Web and the possibility for me to construct a "home page" of my own gives me a new and exciting means of placing my poetry before the public. All of the poems included in the 1981 version are included here. I have little to add to my original Preface. I still hope that those of you who read these poems will find things in them that speak to you in ways that perhaps only the heart can truly understand. If you have any comments you would like to share with me, I would be happy to receive them. You may E-mail me at JFO@VIRGINIA.EDU.

Charlottesville, Virginia
May 1996

The Poems

I am waiting
Why is it
O ivy'd walls!
Spring bewitches
What is the inner Power
The awakening mountains
Did I cry
What time is it
I have disfigured myself
April green!
My soul is skin and bones
No good will it do
Where is she
My memories stand stagnant
Oh Love! Please send a candle
Lord, where are my prayers?
If the mind could but focus
Souls, like magic
A man becomes a place
All things of Beauty
Oh, the awful walls
Sweetness, swirling in the desert
There are too many restless days
Do I feel as must the steel
If it had to end
Out of winter's icy, white wastes
What ancient rites
Upon a renewed earth humanity wakes
Tonight I sit in one of Life's dreariest spots
Where art Thou, O Spirit Kindred
I sit before a willow tree
Before me sits a man
O willow tree
I sigh over the dead worlds
Oh, how alone I am
Why dream of worlds unborn
Bathed in fountains of fire
Waiting for the wisps of marbled moonlight
I am not a thing apart
Can there come from a torn heart
What prison is the heart?
Shadows play across the bedroom wall
In shimmering sun I stand
How must it be

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