Ph: Life: Growing Up, La! * - Chapter 2 - Rev 2 Poem by Brian Johnston

Ph: Life: Growing Up, La! * - Chapter 2 - Rev 2

Rating: 4.6

- - Chapter 2: Adult Responsibility (With Some Breaks) - -

By ten years old, no weekends off,
Or Saturday cartoons,
Although I did have cash to spend,
I felt my life in ruins.
I dusted cars in my dad's store,
And cleaned its toilets too,
I fixed truck tires as I got old,
Not much I couldn't do.

A trip to two month summer camp,
I learned to shoot and sail,
At twelve years old, a pioneer,
Canoed explorer's trail.
Near tragedy on my return,
My sister paralyzed,
A late victim of polio,
My conscience brutalized.
Felt guilty leaving her alone,
While I frolicked and played,
Brotherly love had been displaced,
Protection was waylaid.

The washers, dryers, I repaired,
And freezers with no chill,
Then televisions came along,
Tube testing my new skill.
Assembling new farm implements,
And posting parts on hand,
My driver's license opened doors,
‘Collected bills' firsthand.

On Sundays we would go to church,
To hear the preacher tell,
Because my dad was not with us,
His soul would burn in Hell.

Dad's Channelled Poem-[]
[‘It's bad news when a preacher comes.
They all want stuff for free.
I have to feed my children too,
I've problems they don't see.']

Three years of summer music camps,
In Junior High reborn,
I played piano in dance bands,
Took lessons on French Horn.
My French Horn teacher laughed out loud
When I walked through the door,
‘Your lips too thick, please stick out tongue, '
Now rolling on the floor!
‘To take your money is a crime, '
The German said to me,
‘You've no high notes, ' ‘I know, ' I said,
‘Mom loves French Horn you see.'

Most summers were our busy time,
We all worked hard till dusk,
My ‘tail rung through a ringer, ' (1) la, *
The time for ‘smart mouth' (2) brusque.
But then the job that I loved best,
Flat tractor tires in field,
A chance to meet a farmer's girl,
The country's charm revealed.

One summer worked a cattle herd,
Two thousand cows were planned,
By cutting, wind-rowing (3) the grass,
Soon haystacks dotted land.
Dakota winters could be fierce,
The temp forty below,
The stacks were shelter from the wind,
A shield from blinding snow.
We'd use a horse for round-up, la! *
My God that was a thrill,
Except for blisters on your ass,
Or when you took a spill.
I had not ridden horses much,
You're so far from the ground,
The horse not knowing you from spit, (4)
Disdain can be profound! '
There was no time for niceties,
And work to do, ‘C'MON! '
If horse and you somehow part ways,
No choice, you climb back on.

Our ranch was all on ‘Indian Res., ' (5)
By river loop enclosed,
In South Dakota's Lower Brule, (6)
A twelve year lease proposed.
Land acres more that twenty thou.
Covered by native grass,
A chance like this was very rare,
My father could not pass.
The river's edge a solid fence,
No barbed wire to maintain.
The nearest town two hours by road,
Security mundane.
Our days were mostly work and sleep,
With meals our only break,
Except for weekend groc'ry trips,
No chance for love's heartache.

Till I discovered farmer's girl,
Who lived half way to town,
Contrived a way to go to church,
When Sunday's call came down.
The church's name not one I knew,
The people all seemed nice,
To escape Sunday's usual fare
Was worth most any price.
Harmonica, accordion
Played music we could sing,
The pastor beat foot-pedalled drum,
We made the rafters ring!
I told myself, ‘there's something strange,
The music's gone too long, '
Emotion peaking and yet I
Somehow did not belong.
With music's end the sermon broke,
The world's sure end was near,
Time now to sanctify all sin,
‘Repent now! God's word hear.'
God's really mad, this cannot stand,
No doubt that it is prov'n
Those rockets from Canaveral
Are shooting holes in Heav'n.
I was in shock, glued to my seat,
The flock their garments rent, (7)
And I the last one in his seat,
No sin did I lament!
At last not knowing what to do,
I left and went outside,
And knew whatever happened now,
I hadn't found my bride.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Topic(s) of this poem: Life
Brian Johnston

Additional voting or rating of this poem and be done by simply including your vote in a comment on the poem. I will update my poems rating later in a way that blocks Merov from altering the points given to the poem by more friendly reviewers. Apperantly the only number keys that work on Merov's computer are 0 and 1.: -) Poor Merov.

Poet's Notes:

* When I was in the American Peace Corps in Tanzania, East Africa we had a group of 7 surveying assistants that were always with us in the first year and that we became very close to. Their conversation was always sprinkled with 'la' and I thought it was kind of cute. Like they might say to me, 'Why don't we stop in this village for some food, la.' They used this word kind of like I use the word ‘OK' in casual conversation. 'You've got food in your teeth, la.' I really enjoyed this idiosyncratic affectation.

(1) 'tail rung through the ringer' - Early washing machines did not have a 'spin cycle.' So to get the excess water out of your clothing you would ring out the water from each item of clothing first before hanging it on a clothesline to dry completely in the sun. So the phrase 'tail rung through the ringer' means that you are all out of energy, and very tired. The energy has been squeezed out of you by your job like water rung out of newly washed clothing.

(2) 'smart mouth' - Someone who likes to talk back to authorities, or who just complains all the time.

(3) 'wind-rowing' - To rake newly cut grass into long rows called 'wind-rows' that could be more easily picked up and bailed then by yet another machine.

(4) 'not knowing someone from spit' - To have no respect for the person at all.

(5) ‘Indian Res' - Land that Indian's were given official title to by the American government in an attempt to placate and domesticate them after stealing their original land and giving them only land that they thought no 'white man' would want.

(6) ‘Lower Brule' - A huge tract of Indian Land contained in a large meander of the Missouri River. Although the mouth of this loop is only one mile wide, to get from one side of the meander by river is over 28 miles. The Cherokee Indian Tribe owns lower Brule.

(7) 'rent' - To tear one's own clothing as a sign of extreme remorse.
Abekah Emmanuel 21 August 2014

Poetically arranged, this poem is very revealing as its deeply exposes the poet's early life as well as the subsequent years of his life..... I enjoyed this powerful narrative. Great job!

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alan brown 07 April 2018

an epic tale Brian. enjoyed reading your poem Thank you Alan

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Bri Edwards 02 September 2014

ok brian, you hardly mention the girl in your poem. I could (I mean would have had to) read/”peek” between the lines to see how she was figuring in the story. [[ I tried to peek between her shutters, but no luck; they were shut up tightly. ]] mostly you write about the dirty, dangerous, boring, tiring, lonely job and looking forward to a change of pace on Sunday by going to the church. I’m not sure the girl was even attending the church. it is implied I guess. I don’t blame you for not returning to the church; you certainly didn’t fit it with the “flock”; you might have been the “black sheep”! but, ya know, if she did attend, maybe SHE didn’t feel that she fit in there either. you could have made the perfect couple. you both could have pretended to be faithful church attendees in order get into each others XXXXX. you could go sparking and spooning and maybe get hitched! face it, brian, you blew it! ! ! ! : (; (: (poor brian ................................................but once you were reborn, didn't you think to go back to the church to find her? ? ? but you probably saved money on clothing maintenance. la.

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Bri Edwards 01 September 2014

twenty thou......20,000+, not the thou as in the lord's prayer. (and pronounced differently) :) i hate to say it, but, as sometimes happens, brian has produced some great rhyming lines. pedalled ...variant of pedaled; we were both correct/right! - - - - - - - - - - BJ, you claim to have learned to fix many things at an early age. could you fix the sermon? With music's end the sermon broke, The world's sure end was near, Time now to sanctify all sin and furthermore, i thought end sure, but sure end or sure end sure could be ok, depending on the intended meaning. heh heh sanctify? are you sure? - - - - - - - - - - - - - God's really mad, this cannot stand, No doubt that it is prov'n [proving] Those rockets from Canaveral Are shooting holes in Heav'n ............great stanza, but are we sure brian wrote this? it is pretty darn good! Canaveral........Cape Canaveral space center (Florida) , site of early (and later too) launchings of u.s. space ships. i think it got its name changed to Kennedy Space Center after our president's assassination, but some people wanted the old name and it may have been changed back? flock=church members / with all the renting going on, it must have given the local tailor or seamstress busy each week. OK, brian, apparently my rare vote (of, yes,10) boosted you from 8.5 to 9.0. happy? :) ;) :) where's my Dr. Pepper? ? ? ? thanks for sharing. i hope the wait was worth it. bri :)

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Bri Edwards 01 September 2014

Damn again! ! this time i typed a comment on the two added stanzas. but before i submitted it i decided to VOTE, which i haven't done at a poem in ages, except with my own sweet words. and i think hitting vote caused me to lose the comment which i had not yet submitted. it's enough to make one spit nails! BUT the sun is shining outside, the breeze is blowing, i have food and drink (water) , and life is good, so why am i letting this bother me. when i get back from a break i guess i'll just reconstruct ANOTHER LOST COMMENT. bri :) : (

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Mihir Modi 22 August 2014

Such a beautiful narrations and descriptions you have made. Am too young for this comment but this poem placed all the angles of life straight to me. Also looking at the titles of upcoming parts of the same piece, its really ensured that I might have a clear picture of relationships and way to lead the life. :)

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