Life Isn't Like the Burger King - Poems 1978 to 1981

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Preface to the 1982 Volume

Probing too deeply into one's thoughts and feelings is, at best, a dangerous pasttime--and particularly so for a poet! As this group of poems indicates, I've spent considerable time weaving to and fro along that fine line of poetic peril. Yet, the quest is exhilerating, despite its dangers, for it is born of a desire to communicate to oneself and to others some sense of who one is and what one believes.

If many of the poems included in Will I Never See an Elf? represented a transition phase in my life, then the poems included here perhaps are indicative of where it was that I transited to. Adjustments were made in my life to accommodate work, marriage, and fading ideals. Nonetheless, the questions I posed during earlier years have found no answers nor will they go away. My poems continue to seek answers--though none become apparent or, at least, rarely so.

There is in many of the poems in this volume a sense of restless resignation, a realization that things have attained some sort of equilibrium, albeit one I do not especially like. Much of the tumultuous idealism and wistful romanticism of the past has faded--or gone dormant. The last brief renaissance of these feelings has flared and died away, leaving only a tiny glowing ember of memory to remind me of how bright a fire once animated my life.

Still, I continue questing, probing, analyzing--always asking "Why?" There is in these poems a deep sense of frustration over having to live as I must in a world full of questions that have no answers. If I could, I would change much about my life and the way I must live--but unlike that popular fast food emporium which promotes its hamburgers any way you would like to have them, Life rarely permits one to pick and choose one's options. One must try to make the best of whatever happens, for truly Life Isn't Like the Burger King!

Charlottesville, Virginia
May 14, 1982


Preface to the 1996 Web Collection

Technology has changed considerably since I put together the typed, spiral-bound version of Life Isn't Like the Burger King in 1982. 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 1982 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
December 1996


The Poems

Idle thoughts like rain
When the years have flown
What is it my heart holds back?
Why is my soul encased in lead
Help me weep!
Dear God, who knows all
Ice strings diamond necklaces along the old plum tree
No angels come
Oh God, dear God--where am I?
Oh empty heart
Happy days they were
Lord, people just go on living, dying
There is a beauty to every place
Oh God, my pen stands poised to write
I remember a day
Blazing portals of the mind
Across the flaming moment
Who reads poems made of tuna
To poems must life, at length, ever turn
Each night I can lie
Oh lovely one!
Beyond the clouds
A whole poem about a spider plant?
Someday, I'm going to die
Like a lump of coal am I
Today, I cut the buttercups
I am a house
For beauty the world pays a price
You were a poem I read in youth
We swim in a clamorous ocean
Who, I wonder, is less free
Some belittle the puppy's love
I am life-tired


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