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As an aside, by the way, I've noticed that all of the poems in the first three collections have found their way into various WWW search engines and are thus retrievable by key word or phrase. I suppose those same search services will eventually pick up this collection, too. I've even had one or two persons E-mail me about one or another poem -- so somebody out there is actually reading some of them, too!
But what of the poems collected here? By and large, the 1980s were not a particularly pleasant decade for me emotionally. There are several reasons for this, most of which I don't really want to go into here, but I think that the turmoil and depression can be clearly seen in many of the poems. Yet, the darker poems are sometimes balanced by lighter and happier ones as well. Like most people, I suppose I was coming to grips with approaching middle age, with the realization that many of the things I'd hoped for or hoped might happen in my life were increasingly unlikely to occur. I was having to compromise, to accept less than I really wanted, to learn to live with mistakes, both those of commission and those of omission.
But as the decade wore on and the 1990s arrived, I think at least one thing became outstandingly clear: the value of friends and friendship. While a number of poems touch upon this realization tangentially, Must Poems Be Forever Sad treats it most directly. This poem was written after a visit I made to several old and dear friends from my college days, during which we had an especially close and meaningful time together.
The final three poems in this collection sum up, perhaps, the whole of the collection. There is personal reflection, reluctant growth and acceptance, and a realization that love and sharing are supremely important. Where my poetry is headed next isn't clear. I write far fewer poems now than I once did. Whether I will have enough for a fifth collection any time soon is doubtful -- but who knows? In the meantime, all I -- or any of us -- can do is freely share our smiles.
May 5, 1998
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