Last year I  was watching and oddly actually listening to a TV commercial. It was a car commercial. A Volvo car commercial. ….. I don’t own a Volvo. ……..  I’m not interested in Volvos. ……..I do not plan on buying a Volvo. But the voice and the audio mix for that commercial struck a poetry chord as I listened. They were using the words and verses to a Walt Whitman poem that I loved the first time I read it many years ago. I knew immediately it was the words of Whitman’s “Song of the Open Road” .


So I wrote a post about its use in the commercial.

Find it here:

Sometime last week I was watching CNN, they must be sponsored by Volvo, and my poetry chord was struck again by the latest  and newest Volvo advertisement. I probably had my Earworm alert, open and ready to catch the words of this latest commercial as soon as I recognized it to be one for Volvo. Sure enough.these words were inserted into the mix :

“To be nobody-but-yourself — in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else — means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight.”

I yelled “son-ofa-bitch! That’s e.e. Cumming!! And then the commercial ended with :

“It’s the most wonderful life on earth.”

Yes, e.e. Cummings for sure. I had to look up the exact title. The words are from a poem in his book “E. E. Cummings: A miscellany revised”. I had the book in high school in the late 60’s. I wish I had it now, the original hardback goes for $250 on Amazon. My copy was plundered from my room by my nephews after I left home and became married . 

The poem’s title is, I think, but I can’t find the complete verses, “Advise To Students”. I did find a YouTube.

Search E.E. Cummings Advice for students.

Here is the commercial:

So thank you e.e. Cummings!! Thank you Volvo! But at least you,Volvo, (a billion dollar company) should give credit to one of our most celebrated poets of the 20th century. Or at least gift me a new car for recognizing your “plagiarizing” .


****  All quotes, poems, and car name identification added here only for educational value and common use.




New Year Resolution Rewind

Posted: December 31, 2018 in writing

From Dec. 31,2014

What is this inherent need we feel each new year to think we need to be so resolute that we can change something about us, make a resolution. Such a word to use. Sounds serious, determined, resolved, single-minded, so serious. We are so resolute that we don’t just make one resolution but a complete list. When it comes to resolutions I don’t ass around.

This year, I’m being resolution realistic, I just have two:

Resolution number one – I promise to keep my pickup, clean and looking like new.

Resolution number two – Do my part in bringing world peace.

Although it is number two on my list, there is a better chance that I will bring world peace than there is that I will keep all of my half full McDonalds coffee cups from collecting in all of my cup holders in the pickup. There is a one in a billion chance for world peace but at least there is a chance. Coffee cups thrown in the trash, not a chance. I will feel guilty about not doing that all year.

And world peace, I’m being realistic this year, I probably will not seriously start working on that until the Sunday night before next New Year’s Eve. Oh, I will have a partial outline that I will make up on January 5th. The usual line items,  first go talk to the Israelis,  next the Saudis, then go see Henry Kissinger and perhaps Jimmy Carter and ask for any notes they may have. I will check the web for the best airline ticket prices to the Middle East. The usual pre-peace-talk legwork. I’ve made this resolution before, I know what’s involved.

But after all of this is collected and all of my yellow legal pads are scribbled full of my own thoughts, they will languish deserted on the console and floorboards of my pickup for 10 or 11 months, collecting circles of spilled coffee cup stains as a constant reminder all year of two things I need to get back to. After all, I am resolute in seeing to it that this world peace thing is worked out before the end of the year and I’m making a resolution for crying out loud! Time’s a wasting!


I do hope you’ll have a Happy New Year though. Sorry about the world peace, maybe next year.

Such is the life of John

Southern Windows

Posted: December 29, 2018 in free verse, poem, poet, poetry, writing
Tags: , , , ,

When the morning Sun shines through Southern windows
and the Winter leafs first cover with sparkling frost.
We cover tight within our quilted sewn blankets
And warm our feet against our lover’s flesh.
I exhale curling breath onto the frozen window
and scratch the new frost by my nail to etch
our names within an arrowed heart throbbing
and watch the Sunshine melt
our new Winter’s sculptured breath.




To all those that are celebrating spiritual holidays of this season and to all those whose spiritual consciousness do not require these observations, The Distantshipsmoke Gang wish you peace, love and a fruitful and safe new year.

To all my readers, thank you for including  our words and poems into your daily lives.

John and his many ..


The Forgotten Man

Posted: December 10, 2018 in free verse, poem, poet, poetry, writing
Tags: , , , ,

The ways of the forgotten man
the scratch and twine of solitude
No dressing for dinner
No give and take discussions
of the latest U.N. Resolutions
or disagreeable conclusions
of foreign  led decisions
Just a soul of a man that wakes early,
checks the morning’s wind direction and temperature,
makes a fresh cup of coffee
and feeds his waiting tail wagging dog.
Some say simple life
but many want nothing to do with it
as they meet their own day’s grind,
rut, fortune or failure.
playing the cards dealt them that day.
But he, the forgotten man,
thinks of no destiny, future or past
and lives in the now
of writing  in an unread personal weather reporting  journal,
computing coffee prices by the pod and concerns
of well-balanced hound diets.
All very complicated subjects
for a man of age with limited access
to current study material.
The forgotten man is not lazy
only perhaps vastly misinformed
or maybe just a poor interpreter of the fine print
of very old articles of scientific theories.
He really believes he must get out of the house more.
The forgotten man is very happy.
But no one asks.



Remarkable Walk

Posted: December 4, 2018 in free verse, poem, poet, poetry, writing
Tags: , , , ,

We are on a remarkable walk.
From death to Birth
we march with bare feet
bare heads and sunburnt shoulders
protected from man and sun
only by flip-up, clip-on plastic sunglasses

We try to be cool
armed with our 12 gauge Levis
but the Carhartt Tee-shirts only
let us down, hot and sweaty,
telling – who we want to be
but not who we are.

October and November
pass with little rage.
only a few men down,,
misplaced children lost,
and few hundreds turned away.
This…. the end of our remarkable walk


Just Call Me Torch

Posted: September 28, 2018 in free verse, poem, poet, poetry, writing
Tags: , , , ,

Ok, I will begin. I will think of something to say, and I must have patience, and what I think of will be what it is, words only to pass the time,  your and my time.

It has actually (please not LITERALLY) been months since a new post but writing about posts is not what I want to write about, although it may turn into that. Stop me if I stray.

It all began in July, the 21st  I think.  My computer hiccupped. It actually (please not LITERALLY ) did hiccup. A sound very similar to a child’s hiccup and then a hiss was emitted from the 1 inch speaker residing, I’m guessing, somewhere in the bottom or underside of my eight year old machine. The screen went black and the harddrive restarted and it appeared the contraption was cycling power. While this wildly continued, I rose from my spot on the couch and very quietly and slowly backed   away from it and from the room, leaving the device to what I perceived as its own self-destruction.  You see, my laptop is equipped with a very early model of lithium ion battery. And in the last year or two on television I have witnessed what seems to be many cars, airplanes, cellphones and  vape shop pants pockets erupting into 4th of July fireworks. I did not want that to take place in my lap while I was sitting on my favorite couch. It is a very comfortable leather couch and it was early morning and I was not yet clothed in my usual blue jeans, only my tee-shirt and Skivvy underpants, definitely not a good place or attire for an out of control computer bottle rocket to be launched.  I will leave that to the guys on YouTube.

So you see, I have been without a computer other than my Iphone. I know there probably is “an App for That” but I have not pursued it. I have tried but have found it way too time consuming to write a complete post on that tiny virtual keyboard. I have only been able to “like” and leave very short comments.

Now I have acquired a manageable laptop. I hope to be back contributing more posts soon.

Such is the life of John


J probably won’t be allowing OC the use of the aircraft again any time soon.


Next Step

Posted: July 25, 2018 in free verse, poem, poet, poetry, writing

Wishing I could be told the next step, the next task, the next solving of the puzzle, with an analysis paralysis I gaze, eyes frozen at the project. Only I can bring this to an end, a finish, the final result of what I have created. It waits only for me, pieces of the puzzle that will never fall into the proper order on their own doing. Only by tools in my own hands, ordered by my own brain, from my own skull will this end.  A project that began with a very explicit blueprint, a plan has proceeded to this place that I have found myself. Like a thousand page book that has had the last 10 pages lost or not yet written, I am asking of myself to bring it to a respectful and honorable ending. Using all of the final proper proportions, I will turn my imagination into a real object of Plexiglas, carbon fiber and the shining polished aluminum that it is made of. It will fly.


Field and Stream

Posted: June 11, 2018 in free verse, poem, poet, poetry, writing

A few weeks ago, my company purchased for me a new work vehicle. A new shiny white pickup. It is equipped with all the options, you name it, AM FM XM radio, chrome bumpers, four wheel drive, a nice fiberglass topper. It even has electric adjustable seats, mirrors and windows. I spend a lot of time on the road traveling between assignments. Although I really loved it, after over 215,000 uneventful miles in the old Tundra, a new vehicle was a welcome break and change of pace.

Unfortunately, with only 3500 miles accumulated on this new beast of burden, I had a fatal encounter with a deer. Fatal for the deer that is. Thinking about how the accident happened, I really don’t believe I killed it. It was broad daylight, it ran out of a deep ditch and squarely in front of me, neither of us had a chance. She was killed on contact and the contact caused a little over 5,000 dollars in damage to the new, shiny white front end of the pickup. I firmly believe that the animal committed suicide after choosing the first fast traveling passing vehicle. I certainly didn’t want to hurt it so I must place some of the blame on the deer. But it did bring back an old memory.

When I was young, I had a memorable encounter with the white tail deer. Growing up in a Field and Stream family, I learned to hunt and fish from my father and older brother. Wild game was a staple of our diet. Fish, rabbit, pheasant, quail and squirrel were not unusual in the freezer or on our dinner table. We always hunted and fished legally, never exceeded the harvest limits and always respected the natural habitat. I saw many deer in the wild and along the side of our roads. The deer population was not as many as it is today. Then the occasional spotting of a small herd of deer was considered a treat or even an event.

But I only remember hunting deer one time with my father. On that occasion, after spotting the deer in the distance and ready to shoot, my father paused looking over the barrel of his slug loaded shotgun and quietly whispers to me, “He sure is a good looking animal, he’ll live for another day” and brought down the heavy Savage 12 gauge to his side. Taking turns, we watched the big magnificently racked buck through our binoculars, letting him slowly wander out of range back into the thick timber of hickory, oak trees and raspberry brier. We never hunted deer again. Some may call that buck fever or weak sentimentalism, I saw it as a father showing his son respect for another living being.

Since then, I have gone on deer and elk hunting expeditions with acquaintances, but in other states where I didn’t have a resident or nonresident license or carry a gun. In places where the shot animals had to be hauled out on pack horses. But I’ve never really hunted, I’ve only observed. So now, after over 50 years, I can say that I have killed my first deer. Not with a slug loaded shotgun or high powered rifle but by the chrome bumper, fender, grille and hood of a shiny, new, white 2012 Silverado Chevy. Not that there is much glamour in either. And certainly not as memorable as it was in the late afternoon on that crisp chilly fall day in southern Iowa when my Dad without shooting, un-shouldered his heavy old Savage shotgun while whispering “he’ll live for another day”.

Such is the life of John.

(First posted 09/10/2013)