Fourteen

Poets write about sex because it is a part of  life.   This past week I revisited EE Cummings work “She being Brand… (XIX)” and discovered Billy Collins piece “Taking off Emily Dickinson’s Clothes.”  Cummings captured me again with his metaphorical humor, and Collins described an encounter so intensely sensual that I actually felt a twinge of angered jealousy over the prospect of someone doing that to a woman I love.  That is just good poetry.

I also studied some of Keat’s intense use of assonance and alliteration to bring rhythm to his poetry, and my own following poem is an exercise to duplicate that flow of rhythm using assonance and soft rhyme along with 21st century, very plain English.

The poem below is about my rather late “coming of age” and I hope that you will find the rhythm in it that I intended.  The first half is boring and was intended to be that.  It describes a boring year.  The second half comes much more alive when things seemed to change.   Thank you for visiting and I apologize in advance if the subject matter is not to your taste…..

.

Fourteen

Fourteen, as a year, was pretty much a waste.
My hovering face just filled a nothingness space.

From dawn to dusk, all my days were the same,
routine was a must, with so little to gain.

A paper route took my evenings by score,
And then again on early Sunday morns.

School seemed to be my only change of sorts,
I think you can see that it too fell way short

of keeping my interest on any single day.
finding life’s zest always sloughing away.

I jumped into public from a parochial school,
Where classes had been tougher, as a general rule.

So I sat in those chairs without much to learn,
Never really aware of life’s continual churn.

And I laughed at all the other boy’s remarks,
the sexual tones caught my feigning a lark.

Because I didn’t know what they were speaking of,
having never been visited by that goddess of love.

Although mine was late, I certainly should say
I’m glad for the wait and that it came that way.

For one day in our boring Civics class lecture,
the teacher announced he had a great pleasure.

For three days in a row we would avoid his voice,
by watching some movie of his insistent choice.

I don’t remember that film, not really well,
only black and white and boring as hell.

But the movie is moot, if you read on and see,
it’s that the lights went off in room two -oh- three.

In the back of the class sat Barbara and I,
her tight little jeans suddenly caught my eye.

With the click of that flicker and in the dim lights,
I scrunched my chair closer as quietly as mice.

As a lioness in prey, so very sure and slow,
I sent my hand her way and just grabbed ahold.

I studied her mug to see if she’d notice
my hand on her rump and if she’d be pissed.

But she just stared straight ahead and I suddenly found,
hands are good for more than passing papers around.

How could she not know?  My hand was there firmly!
Had she no tail feelings?  Was this something wom’nly?

So for 45 minutes my arm stayed a’stretched,
all the time wondering if she’d have thought me a letch.

But the bell rang clear and she just got up to leave,
and I sat there amazed as this thing washed over me.

I had to sit there another five minutes or so,
the problem under my zipper wouldn’t let me go.

The teacher asked me if I was alright,
I told him my eyes needed to adjust to the light.

The next day I ran to that class to prepare,
I grabbed her seat, pulled it closer to my chair.

And then she came in,  her book bag in tow,
looked down at her chair and smiled with a glow.

She used her knee to push it  next to me,
and sat down with a wink, I could suddenly see

that life at fourteen could be so much more
than what I had thought it ever was before.

I didn’t know it then but my whole life had changed,
always to be indebted to women in tight jeans.

Occasionally others will come to ask,
if I ever had a most favorite class.
And I’m really not trying to avoid being crass,
I just surely don’t know which answer to pass.
Because Creative Writing was an absolute blast.
But it might have been Civics when I learned about ass.

Both are amazing fun, so it’s really just a coin toss….
Heads — or tails?

.

.

I like to have a martini,
Two at the very most.
After three I’m under the table,
After four I’m under my host.

-Dorothy Parker

© 2011 John Richter

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About johnallenrichter

I am an aspiring Poet and adorer of life, a conqueror of nothing. However I am a champion curator of truth and friendship and hold both of those things most dearly to my heart. Welcome to my mind's eye. I hope you will enjoy what you may find and please know that you have a friend here. View all posts by johnallenrichter

57 responses to “Fourteen

  • willowdot21

    That was just so honest and dare I say sweet, I am not being dismissive by saying sweet I mean it there is something so innocent about the whole poem. Yet it is also deep. Bravo!!

  • kaykuala

    Say John, a lot of innocence playing around could happen if one was adventurous and brave. You must have seen growing up in class could be just as thrilling.

    Hank

  • Rachel

    I found it sweetly innocent too! I can see why Civics was a favorite for you. 🙂

  • Mary

    John, this is wonderful. And to think you wrote it in rhyme as well. I could just picture the scenes as they unfolded. Your story of the innocence of young love was sweet; but I would really say you were a pretty BRAVE young man!! You could easily have gotten your face slapped!

    • johnallenrichter

      hahaha…. no she didn’t slap me physically. In fact we rounded third base in the back of that darkened classroom…. But she did refuse my aspirations for a date outside of school…… Which is pretty hard slap to a 14 year old ego!

      I’m not sure if love would be the best way to put this….. Romantic love brings to mind commitment and desire to spend the future together….. 14 year old guys don’t have futures, hell they don’t even have tomorrows! To me that was the beautiful part of coming to age, as a guy at least. Thanks for coming by, I’m so glad you enjoyed it. I was afraid it might be a little riske’……

  • tinkwelborn

    John, I got a kick out of this – it’s the capture of an auspicious moment in a 14 year-old’s life..sex. good for the speaker…the goddess of love finally showed up.

    there’s rhythm and rhyme (both base and slant) throughout; and the story unfolds from the mundane existence of a 14 year-old boy to that special moment, in which life changes.
    I like especially the crescendo — the time slices where the speaker is asking..
    surely she must know? why doesn’t she respond? why is she so stoic?
    until the denouement — the Wink!

    the poem is a piece which uses a vignette from a life to explain a momentous moment.
    CF: Cather in the Rye. These are always good starting points.
    Good piece! thanks for writing and sharing.

    • johnallenrichter

      I’m so glad you found that twist as interesting as I did nearly 40 years ago….. I was quite shocked, somewhat relieved, but mostly completely overjoyed when she smiled and pushed that chair even closer to me…… That very instant is what I consider my own coming of age….. I am humbled by your appraisal Tink….. you are indeed very kind…… Thank you……

  • zumpoems

    Wow! You are so talented/skilled. Love the ample humor and wit (“I didn’t know it then but my whole life had changed, always to be indebted to women in tight jeans.” — what a great line!)

    Being a great entertainer is a much valued skill for poets and writer — well done!

  • the word bar

    For me it was Government class..
    Although I was not 14 (my Daddy would have beat the hide off of me)..

    Isn’t it fun when we really sit back and think of all the different turning point s in our lives..

    Much enjoyed this!!!

  • liv2write2day

    Ha! I thought of Catcher in the Rye, too. Great coming of age poem/story.

  • manicddaily

    A lot of fun. The ending especially! That Barbara was no dummy! Very cute. K.

  • Madeleine Begun Kane

    I really enjoyed that an giggled at this couplet:

    “But she just stared straight ahead and I suddenly found,
    hands are good for more than passing papers around.”

  • claudia

    haha john that was fun…my eyes needed to adjust to the light…made me laugh out loud.. think you brought some memories back for all of us…smiles

  • Ravenblack

    Captures the moment of first interest. Very honest and lighthearted. This awesome to read, especially on a monday. 🙂 Really enjoyed it, thanks.

  • Mama Zen

    I think this is wonderful and sweet!

  • jenneandrews

    This is terrific– coming of age in an instant, reflection-confection on an early erection…yes! Yes, I will yes. This picks me up from the floor where I’ve been bemoaning the weather, my exhaustion, trying to make myself send out a manuscript…. drop me a line sometime. I’m at jenneandrews2010@gmail.com. xxxj

  • jenneandrews

    You will see you got me letting my hair down– at that age….xxxj

  • ayala

    A wonderful write, John. 🙂

  • Dulce

    Well it might have been a boring time, man, but you write about it in the most amazing of ways- in fact I like that first part better.
    You’ve overcome Cummings and Keats with a difference- what difference-?
    Your life

    Great one piece
    Thanks so much for your comment

    {{{ I feel more and more like an amateur here among these great artists…}}}

  • hobgoblin2011

    John, nice piece. I also saw a type of innocence and also a bit of a curiosity in the piece as well. The adherence to the structured rhyme scheme was done well except for those last two stanzas which shift the scheme a bit, most wonderfully might I add, the off-rhyme of changed and jeans and then the continuous A end in the last, adding another dimension to the piece. Excellent job, really enjoyed the read. Thanks

  • tashtoo

    Ha! Loved this John! It was fun and daring and honest, worth sharing! And so glad the wait was worth it 🙂

  • Adura Ojo

    “Occasionally others will come to ask,
    if I ever had a most favorite class.
    And I’m really not trying to avoid being crass,
    I just surely don’t know which answer to pass.
    Because Creative Writing was an absolute blast.
    But it might have been Civics when I learned about ass”.

    A great read from start to finish, John. The above just about summed it up as well. “Heads or tails” too. It’s like who cares which end it is when you’re having fun. (I really didn’t say that, honestly!) LOL

    Still on the subject of first experiences, you might just find this interesting:

    http://aduraojo.blogspot.com/2011/10/first-love.html

  • Adura Ojo

    “Occasionally others will come to ask,
    if I ever had a most favorite class.
    And I’m really not trying to avoid being crass,
    I just surely don’t know which answer to pass.
    Because Creative Writing was an absolute blast.
    But it might have been Civics when I learned about ass”.

    A great read from start to finish, John. The above just about summed it up as well. “Heads or tails” too. It’s like who cares which end it is when you’re having fun. (I really didn’t say that, honestly!) LOL

    Still on the subject of first experiences, you might just find this interesting:

    http://aduraojo.blogspot.com/2011/10/first-love.html

  • Pat Hatt

    Well you may have been a bore
    But not you tour
    The rhyming was great
    That you explored at your plate
    14 truly was a vision
    That made quite the poetic incision
    Pulled off with precision
    A wonderful rhyming decision

  • brian miller

    ha this is awesome…and the days of youth when we first learn of the marvelous thing of the body and that of a beautiful lass all the more…mine was the balcony during sunday sermon and i am sure to go to hell over it…one day…

  • Chris G.

    “Taking off Emily Dickenson’s clothes”? Okay, I’m going to need to take a peek at this poem. Curiosity – some titles surely know how to prod it.

    Fun piece here, light and entertaining – better way to capture age than a lot of the brooding introductions we see out there today!

  • Joanne Sprott (@muselady11)

    Great contrast between before and after; glad you included “the boring part.” Also, I have to say that the rhyming couplets made me think of “A Night Before Christmas,” which made the whole thing a bit more humorous, considering the contrast in content between the two. And yet you captured both the awkwardness and the real sweetness (yes) of the very youngest form of lust. Great story!

    • johnallenrichter

      Joanne…. I am so happy you said that because it tells me you found the rhythm I intended for this piece! That is so exciting to me as a poet, because, as you know yourself, we often write these things and don’t know if others are seeing the same cadence we intended. But yes, to me it sings iself exactly to the same rhythm as that great poem also known as “A visit from St,. Nick…..”… Thank you for the incredible boost of confidence….!!!

  • Lori McClure (@lorimcspeaks)

    Oh, I remember. It was 13 for me, when he would peek in to see if I was in class or not. Sent tingles up and down my spine to know he was looking for me. Such a cutie he was. Ah, young love. This was much fun 🙂

  • Sarah Johnston

    John another excellent inspiration pieces. you never stop to amaze me at your words and how well they just flow. This was a lot of fun
    http://gatelesspassage.com/2011/10/18/farewell-my-three-legged-friend/

  • 1emeraldcity

    Well, so maybe you didn’t learn to much about the executive, legislative branches of government, but you certainly did branch out in personal experience. The couplets were pretty much lymrick, easy to read and an eye opener. Thanks for sharing!

  • Rallentanda

    Coming from a single sex and school uniform culture our fantasies
    (e.g The Scarlet Pimpernel) paled in comparison. Your poem is hilarious .

  • laurie kolp

    John- What a treat this coming of age piece is… I love it! The rhyme and rhythm moved the story along (which I didn’t think was boring at the beginning at all). This is funny:

    But the bell rang clear and she just got up to leave,
    and I sat there amazed as this thing washed over me.

  • DW

    you opened a window into your past in such a sweet,honest way…BRAVO, luved it

  • hedgewitch

    This brought quite a smile, John. I wish I’d been in your class–I had a very lonely derriere at fourteen. ;_)

  • Melanie Jan Bishop

    Ah this brought a smile to my face. Oh I remember being 14…..

    Melanie

  • Andrew

    John, what a great write! You move beautifully from boring to briliant, and take us with you into that thrilling coming of age. Civics class was never that fun… Thanks for taking us with you.

  • Beth Winter

    Oh, why did I sit here and nod my head as I read *blush* I remember my first touch quite fondly. This was an absolute pleasure to read and experience. Fantastic.

  • Morning

    it is great to look back and draw insights from the past,

    quite a witty piece, your words are well fine tuned,
    poem on.

  • Sheila Moore

    magnificent! I love th rhythm and rhyme and the sweet innocent topic. And the humor – what a hoot that last stanza was – lol. great job no this one – a true joy 🙂

  • ladynyo

    “No tail feelings?”

    LOL!…this was delightful, John….and I think you made a very good point in your research, investigation into the particular workings for this poem.

    Rhythm? Yes, and done very, very nicely. Smoothly.

    Lady Nyo

  • The Old Raven

    How could anyone be offended? I was enthralled. The poem itself was excellent and rolled well off the tongue so to speak. It was also a lot of fun. Thank you.

  • Steve E

    Adjusting your eyes to the light? Didn’t you mean adjusting your EYE?

    Also, choosing ‘heads’ or ‘tails’! Every time, I have chosen TAILS, and almost every time…was a winner–grin!

    Thank you for your very welcome remarks on my WWII blog. I almost felt like I ‘knew’ you, as I read that comment!

    PEACE! (Well, after WAR???!)

  • heather grace stewart

    Hi John,
    Great poem, and I laughed out loud at the Dorothy Parker poem, which I have never come across but may need to share with my friends!
    I really appreciate you dropping by and commenting at my blog. Yes, I’ve been very busy, and don’t like to contribute to DVerse
    if I won’t be able to read everyone’s posts. Hopefully this week I can participate – nice to be missed. Yes, I seem to memorize
    my work as I write it and if I’ve performed it enough times, it sticks. I’ll see you at DVerse soon – thanks again for your support.

  • claudia

    just wanted to say hi and wishing you a lovely sunday john

  • manicddaily

    Hi John, also just saying hi! and thanks for your kind comments. Looking at your poem again too which is so fun. You know I am an attorney in real life (!) which is somewhat of a constraint when blogging. One feels a bit nervous about going too taboo or too extreme, simply out of a fairly reasonable concern that current or prospective clients might search one’s name and get nervous! It’s a bit of a problem. Maybe I’ll have to start a new anonymous blog! (Of course, then it’s hard to tell friends, or also to use it to publicize projects that are linked to one’s name.) Crazy world! Glad for your honesty and frankness!

    K.

  • Daydreamertoo

    Haha…oh those painful life lessons! LOL
    Loved this read, thank you 🙂
    P.S. I agree with your comments re: encouraging young blood.

  • Jamie Dedes

    John, this is an altogether wonderful post. I remember the first time I read the Billy Collins poem. It hits one. And I love that you ended the post with Dorothy Parker. She was a sharp one.

    Your poem is clever and pungent and a totally honest view of a fourteen-year-old. Well done … 😉

  • Lafemmeroar

    Youth and sex–now that WAS life 🙂 Love your ending. I choose tails 🙂

  • lolamouse

    I had to giggle when I read this! Boys can be such dolts! I, too, thought it rather sweet and innocent. And it was quite impressive that you were able to rhyme the entire poem!

  • Margaret

    This was perfectly written. The perfect balance for a fourteen year old (or at least I think so) and it read in such a way that I think most can relate to it… I loved the wryness in the beginning and the touch of humor at the end. And to think, the young teenagers think we just don’t “understand”. 😉

  • Neha

    The was fun and lovely – and oh it made me laugh. Great one!

  • Nicola Kelley Hyser

    Just great! I enjoyed it very much … probably not as much as you enjoyed Barbara and your class-time together, but her “wink” was exciting 😉

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