If Smiles Cost Fortunes - Poems 1982 to Early 1995

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This is the first collection of my poems to be "published" directly on the World Wide Web without first having been assembled in printed form from type written versions. This is not to say, of course, that the included poems are particularly "new" -- they are not, dating all the way back to 1982, well before the WWW was a reality. To be honest, I'm not entirely sure what I think of going straight from my typed files to electronic format, but since I seem to have made the decision to make my poems widely available via the Web, I suppose there is no reason not to bypass the traditional printed booklet.

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.

Charlottesville, Virginia
May 5, 1998

The Poems

Three trees stand
She lies asleep
The youth sees the flower
God in me is Thee
Transitions--the past remembered
Here I sit
All along the backward paths gates close
Perhaps, two-hundred years ago
The heart is a tough old muscle
It is not the begging time
These are the lonely times
I have so much to tell someone
I touched you
Soon, all the trees will shed their leaves
Our lives are like leaves
What do you do
I sit alone with my thoughts
Surrounded by the cold, gray damp
I will bury all my bad thoughts
How do the words come to me
I remember in the darkness
Every day, I come to eat
There is no harder love
My soul is a butterfly
My paper intimidates me
Must poems be forever sad?
Gray clouds. Gray twilight.
There is no reward
Lucky am I
Today is clear and bright
I can see what I want
Life's hardest lesson learned
I was gone; I'm back
How far I've come from Carolina!
Like Peter Pan I tried not to grow
If smiles cost fortunes

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