Saturday, January 31, 2015

Rod McKuen passed away recently. He probably introduced more people to poetry than anyone in the last sixty years. His poetry resonated with the general public which generated lots of jealousy and criticism from a poetry community that can be pretty brutal at times.

Recent generations have a tough time sitting still for any kind of poetry except rap and hip hop. Critics can seem to find good things to say about even the worst examples of these forms. The snarky attitude of many of these same people towards McKuen’s very readable style has always been a bit of a mystery.

I’m not aware of anyone else in recent years who has sold millions of books of poetry so it seems safe to say that he connected somewhere. And he successfully carried that talent into the music, television and film worlds.

We poets like to pretend that the commercial aspects are beneath us. And maybe that is true to a degree, but my collections of poetry have only sold a few thousand copies, so I wouldn’t mind a little more commercialization. And I bet, if they are honest, most poets would admit that they keep pretty close track of how many copies of their books have been sold.

Mr. McKuen faded from the public scene many years ago. But he played a major role in keeping poetry in front of the general public, and he should be remembered and thanked for making it a part of the lives of millions of citizens.

Glenn K. Currie

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

“Lily” (Riding in Boxcars, 2006) is the middle poem in my flower trilogy; “Rose” was the first. I will do “Iris” in a couple of weeks.

One question I still wrestle with is whether frogs can also turn into princesses? Perhaps, in this new world where women have a pretty good chance to succeed on their own, it is an option.

For everyone, lily pads can be a tough place to leave. Regardless of where we come from, we can make opportunities on our own, but our roots certainly can impact the possibilities.

We each have the option to stay among the lily pads or cut the cord. Either way, it is wise to be careful about which frog you kiss.

Glenn K. Currie


She lay open in the small pond.
Riding the ripples of false hope.
She was waiting for something,
To tear her from the murk,
To break the chord tying her.
Bedded, briefly, by a passing frog,
Eating flies at her table,
She had been left floating,
Suspended, in the backwater.
Abandoned by Prince Charming.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

We have become a nation of talkers. We have all the answers to someone else’s problems.

We also have no difficulty leaping to conclusions and making judgments without waiting for the inconvenience of actual facts. In an age of 30 second news bites and instant polls, waiting for real analysis would require staying on a topic for more than a week.

We will watch anything that requires no thought: “Reality” TV, “Real” housewives, Car chases, Laser-guided bombs, Building demolitions. Basically, we like to watch people make idiots of themselves, or destroy themselves or others.

As a nation we spend billions to turn foreign cities to rubble, but let our own roads and bridges turn to rubble for free.

We still think oceans will protect us when we are really only milliseconds from every place on Earth.

We live in boxes within boxes, investing our lives in something as ethereal as the air that is getting harder to breath.

I wrote “Building Two” (Riding in Boxcars, 2006), about the building we are all living in. Can you feel it shudder?

Glenn K. Currie

                        Building Two

I stood at a window high
at the end of the city. Watching
a building burning. Smoke
drifted over gathering sirens
screaming below. People at my window,
talked with nothing to say.
Stared over coffee,
As they watched our twin self die.
The brightness was blinding.
Blue sky and sunshine on a cloudy day.
Someone’s TV broke the news on morning’s
shows. Strange. Compelling.
Live from New York.
Then our building shuddered. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

One of my favorite poems from Riding in Boxcars (Snap Screen Press, 2006) is Rose. It is about the beauty that youth and innocence bring to our world.

Most of us become infected with cynicism at too early an age. We suffer the indignities of life that lead us to erect shells around ourselves. It is a joy to see someone or something that has not yet been broken down by the sheer weight of existence.

Rose is an unusual poem. I began it in free verse to reflect the innocence, the emerging beauty of the subject. I use rhyme in the second verse to sing of the soul, the danger of risking love, the giving of part of oneself, and the hope of fulfillment that rests in the waking heart.

And it is about that part of each of us that can inhale the incense of rose and for just an instant, recapture that first golden moment when we felt we were fresh and new and anything was possible.

Glenn K. Currie


 She emerged shyly,
Slowly shedding wrappings.
Naked. Blushing.
Soft layers opening
To gentle touch.
Beauty begging,
To be inhaled.
Incense from a smoldering fire,
Glowing red.

Red as the budding flower,
First bursting free.
Red as the trickling blood,
From thorns green panoply.
Red as delicate petals,
Strewn on forest floors.
Red as the secret place,
Where love’s sweet rose

Monday, January 19, 2015

When I wrote Surviving Seventh Grade I wanted to make it a “realistic” look at the roller coaster of emotions that boys go through as they enter puberty and leave the cloistered security of grade school.

It is a scary period. There are lots of different teachers, the subject matter is tougher, kids from other parts of town want to pull your underpants over your head while you’re wearing them, and girls suddenly look a lot different.

It is a strange transition, especially in the attitude towards girls. Before summer vacation they were primarily there to be ignored. Lots of times, if they wore short hair and pants, they seemed almost normal.

But somehow, over the summer, their chests became an area of notice. Now, in retrospect, I know that for many of them, there were lots of foreign objects tucked up there: Kleenex, foam, silly putty, etc. But, at the time, we were clueless and pretty curious about the change.

A female friend is often quoted as wondering what the heck is the real attraction. “Breasts are just a couple of mounds of flesh”.

Well, if that’s the case, why are girls so anxious to keep boys from finding out? They hide whatever it is under bras and slips and blouses and sweaters. Sometimes they won’t even take off their coats when they’re inside.

To a thirteen year old boy, this is like telling him he has to eat kale when there is roast beef on the table.

This is an excruciatingly difficult period for boys. They’re expected to make an assault on Mount Everest without any climbing tools or breathing equipment.

When they finally realize they may need to do some research, the effort may take some surprising turns.

I discuss one of these research efforts in “Second Base” and “Bras” (Surviving Seventh Grade, 2013). This was about a movie date when Billy realized he was never going to get to “second base” unless he learned to unhook a bra with one hand.

I might add that the only bad review I got on this book was by a woman in Alabama who said her thirteen year old son had no business learning about that stuff. I thought that was pretty funny and made sure to enclose that one star review in a lot of ad material. I think it has helped sales significantly.

Glenn K. Currie

Second Base

Billy said he almost got to second base.
He took Irma to the movies.
They snuck up to the balcony
And started kissing and fooling around.

Then the problem developed.
He couldn’t figure out
How to unhook her bra
With only one hand.

Those things are pretty complicated
And they always put the hooks in the back.
Why don’t they put them in front
Where you can get at them?

Billy has an older sister.
He’s going to “borrow” one of her bras
So we can practice unhooking it
With just one hand.


Billy’s sister is seventeen
So he was able to get a bra
That we could practice on.
We put it around the back of a chair.

We put another chair next to it.
It was pretty tricky.
Maybe the chair was too big,
It made a tight fit.

When Billy finally got it undone
It almost put his eye out.
He was leaning in
And it came off fast.

We finally got the hang of it,
But it took a lot of practice.
I hope they don’t make them
With more than two hooks.

Friday, January 16, 2015

There is so much wrong with religion. And there is so much right with religion.

Seeking to understand our origins, our place in the universe, has been an objective of mankind since our first bite of the apple. But it has always seemed to me that it must be a very personal thing. The quest and the ultimate acceptance of our origins and destinies rests within each of us. We are free to believe what we may.

I am very suspect of those who say they have all the answers and try to force them upon others. And part of this goes back to the documents that many of us use to help chart our course through life. Whether it be the Bible, the Koran, the Torah or any other document passed down for thousands of years, it seems doubtful that through all the millions of retellings, translations and lost and found pieces, that we have word for word copies of the original teachings, stories, etc. I have seen how stories change between beginning and end when something is whispered to eight sets of ears at a party.

I am not discounting these documents but I am very wary when religious leaders say we should accept every word as we see it today. We have seen consistent examples of religious leaders who use these documents to give legitimacy to their quests for political and military power.

Every religion, at one time or another, seems to become compromised by leaders who turn religion into a weapon of power and control. Ironically, religions founded on peace and love, have filled the world with death and violence. And we see it today.

Perhaps this is the fate of all organized religions and should lead us to return to seeking our own individual answers to our origins.

I don’t really have any answers except to say that I personally believe that some superior being has indeed dealt with all the complexities of life and our existence on this beautiful planet. And that when I gaze into the heavens on a quiet, clear cold evening, I am over whelmed and yet calmed by the universe that is my home.

I pray to that superior being in thanks for the ability to think for myself and in hopes that mankind will never be deprived of the freedom to seek out the answers to our origin and our destiny by ourselves.

I have written a new poem “The Bible” that discusses my hopes to find guidance there, as well as admitting that it has not provided me with answers to all my questions. In many ways it seems to show that human emotions and the way we treat each other hasn’t really changed in all these years.

Glenn K. Currie

The Bible

I have never understood the bible.
Love and violence written to confuse.
I don’t know whether to be afraid or reassured.
Are the psalms really meant to be sung,
“As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death?”
Or are they a tune to whistle by the graveyard?
They seem lost among so much anger.
Like summer flowers pressed
Between the pages and forgotten.

Copyright Glenn K. Currie 2015

Saturday, January 10, 2015

One of the things that has changed a lot since I was in junior high (middle school) in the 1950’s, is the role that each individual is allowed to play in the cultural life of a school’s community.

The barriers between what was acceptable for boys and girls have been torn down in fairly dramatic fashion. And while this has made life a little easier on those boys who might prefer gymnastics to football, and for girls who want other sports more than cheerleading, the world of middle school and emerging adolescence is still difficult and confusing.

For children right on the edge of puberty, emotions and sensitivities are very close to the surface. And every action seems to have huge ramifications, at least in the minds of the students involved.

I had noticed in the response among grade schoolers to “A Boy’s First Diary”, that the situations I described still resonated strongly today with kids of that age group. The world may have changed dramatically in the last sixty years but the emotional journey they take seems timeless. It does seem that the time frame for that trip has become more compressed because of the many trigger points addressed in the media, and also because children seem to physically mature earlier. Some things, however, remain the same..

When I wrote “Surviving Seventh Grade”, I was intentionally trying to deal with some of these universal issues. I focused on the physical and emotional impacts of adolescence, learning to deal with the social issues such as bullying and discrimination, and the relationships between parents and children (from the kid’s point of view).

One seemingly small item in the life of many kids is the need for braces. This can cause all sorts of physical and emotional trauma, especially during those adolescent years.

“Billy’s Accident” (Surviving Seventh Grade, 2013) deals with one small but embarrassing incident that I saw happen one day while “Billy” and I were hurrying from one class to the next.

Some times it is hard to keep your sense of humor.

Glenn K. Currie

Billy’s Accident

Billy was in hall traffic yesterday.
Everybody was rushing and it was crowded.
He got tripped from behind
And stumbled into Paulina.

He didn’t fall down completely.
He sort of caught himself on Paulina.
His braces got stuck
On the back of her skirt.

Paulina is the head cheerleader.
She’s a ninth grader.
She’s a “couple” with Bubba Bailey,
The captain of the football team.

Billy was stuck to her behind.
It took them a long time
To get his braces freed up.
Bubba and Pauline were not happy.

When they finally got loose,
Billy still had some wool
Sticking out of his braces.
Billy’s lucky to be alive.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

One of the interesting things about the state of affairs in the world is how the vestiges of colonialism and imperialism continue to impact international events.

We see it in the Middle East, the wreckage in much of Africa, the mixed messages in the United States towards Cuba and Puerto Rico, and the scars left by Spain and Portugal in South America.

The British Empire was perhaps most successful in gradually evolving into a Commonwealth of Nations. But they also had many failures as evidenced by their impacts on Yemen, Kenya, Pakistan, South Africa, Ireland and many others.

I traveled a great deal in the 1960’s and 1970”s and had a chance to see, first hand, a snapshot of the transition of many of these areas from colonies to nations. It was a bitter sweet period. The world was changing faster than the ability to adapt.

I wrote Aden Beach Club-1966 (Riding in Boxcars, 2006) near the end of one of these trips. During that journey I had a chance to witness the beauty of the Seychelles, the poverty of the Sudan, Eritrea and Ethiopia, the confusion of post-Mau Mau Kenya, the barren end of the world in Oman, the magnificence of the Suez Canal and a Saudi Arabia only four years separated from legalized slavery.

The colonizing nations had a huge impact in all of these places. It was an interesting testament to the long term ramifications of what we do as nations and as citizens of the world.

The sun eventually sets on all of us. It is worth remembering that the beauty of what remains will depend on the perspective of those left behind to live it and write about it.

Glenn K. Currie

                    Aden Beach Club-1966

British troops rode with us,
Their guns resting,
On our travel kits,
Protecting us from rebels.
The beach club closed,
Except for special visits.

We drank gin and tonics,
In the empty club.
Quinine for malaria, we joked.
Later we sat on the sand,
And watched the sun set,
On the British Empire.