Five First Encounters (1972-2002)

vsvcr2s

Wayne Michael DeHart   (June, 2021)

___________________________________________________________________________

(Readers with small screens may wish to bypass the original presentation of this 5-stanza, 100 line poem and drop down to the numbered-line adaptation just below it to see the proper line breaks, which are essential to the piece.  The  comprehensive “Writer’s Notes” at the end provide in-depth, detailed background and context to the poem.)

I

Bought
a bus
ticket to
San Francisco
on a Winter morn,
nineteen seventy-two.
Stopped over in Chicago.
Ate. Changed buses. Twelve passengers
boarded as I watched. One caught my eye.
Busty brunette looked my way, chose the seat
just behind mine and settled in for the ride.
In the long dark hours under inky skies, she reached
between the seats and grabbed my attention. Hello there.
Joined me at daybreak. Poked, probed and nudged me. Touchy. Feely.
“Going home to San Mateo. Tired of the road. Need a break.”
Still, she displayed a zest for life that I had just lost. Broke. Broken.
The miles and hours raced by as we shared our secrets, stories and desires.
Rest-stopped in Reno. Casino called. Watched, wagered, won. Merged, two into one.
Crossed California’s great Bay. End of the line. I planned to stray. She planned to stay.
Hesitation. Long goodbye hugs. She ran, then stopped and turned. “Come home with me.” I did.

  

II

Worked
days, nights
at the new
Hatch Plaza store.
“Manager, Hardlines”
was my title, my job.
New building, new staff, new start.
Giant by name, link in a chain.
Herman was boss man, Joe his right hand.
They called the shots, assigning worker bees
to departments and aisles that suited their styles.
Three funny and bright young women stood out, stood tall.
Spirited, vivacious, each one forcing me to fall
head over heels, smitten by each, but by one most of all –
the blue-eyed blonde flirting away. ( ‘Twas okay, back in the day.)
Seven years younger she was, out of my reach and out of my league.
Or so it seemed. Looked past her. Kept my distance. Abandoned the yearning.
But nigh she stood, then moved so close, so near, whispering music to my ear.
Enticed, enamored, so much to say, but listened instead to the words she said:
“Can’t get nowhere if we don’t start somewhere, so take a break, and let’s see what’s in store!”

 

III

“Have
a friend
who could use
another friend.
Come with me and George
this weekend to her place.”
Weighed down by work and classes,
I needed a pause. “Count me in.”
Along the eighty mile drive southeast,
I was able to convince myself that
no matter how things might go with this stranger,
my presence there would offer promise, not pretense.
A young mother she was, battle-scarred beyond her years.
My own path, fraught with challenges, left me tired, overwrought.
Her daughter away when we three arrived, she was free to fly,
joined by a couple she held dear, with George and his lady and me.
We all headed out to a club on the coast to gab, drink and (ugh) dance.
Their worries soon waned. (Mine Wayned.) High spirits reigned uncontained. (Driver abstained.)
But one strain remained – my mug left undrained. Peed by the roadside. Everyone cheered.
Back at her place, she and I sat up all night together. Our time had just begun.

 

IV

Whipped
cream on
French cheesecake.
Rough day. Wound tight.
Need to breathe, escape.
Lakeland night life, live band,
half mile down the street. Why not?
Strode past the buffet to the lounge.
Place was dead. Bouncer looked bored. “Slow night,
slim pickin’s, man.” Fine. Came for the music.
Sat at the bar. Ordered my one beer. Nursed it.
Band was weak. Played some Robert Palmer. No one danced.
A plastered princess tossed a bra at the lead singer.
Missed. Yelled, “With that voice, you need all the support you can get.”
The band played on. Bouncer stink-eyed her. She blew him a kiss. Sweet.
Tall, pert, emerald-eyed enchantress parked her bum right next to me.
Playfully shook my arm. “Watch! Seen this movie before. Free flashing.” Huh?
The drunk dudette got up in some dude’s face. Raised her tank top clear up to here.
She teetered and tittered. “How ’bout them apples?” Green eyes asked my name, told me hers.
Talked two hours. Gave me her number. “You won’t call.” Seven years later, we kissed goodbye.

 

V

 First
contact
made online.
Nurse. Registered.
Fall, two thousand two.
Shared the usual stuff.
Some things in common, some not.
Should we meet? Maybe? Possibly?
Me – considering heading back South,
after five years of cursing snow and ice.
Her – deep-rooted in the Granite State. Entrenched.
Family, friends, nursing career, connections, home.
So what if we did meet and a bond emerged? Move? Stay?
Dang. I was getting way ahead of things. Again. (Kicked self.)
Women turned away from me. “My eyes, Tess, my eyes!” Ouch. Would SHE?
I held all the baggage. She held all the cards. Still, she rolled the dice.
Mixed metaphors aside, we met on a Sunday afternoon. Her house.
Fall. New England. Pats scored a touchdown. We scored a pizza. She smiled – coyly.
Her: “Voila!” Two huge delights had been hiding right in plain sight. Me: “Quelle surprise!”
I held and beheld them – two sacks of kisses ( Hershey’s, not Miss’s) – for four full years.

 _______________________________________________________________________________________________

NUMBERED LINES ALTERNATE PRESENTATION:
Provided for syllabification counts/ line cutoff verification for smaller screens.

 

Five First Encounters  (1972-2002)

 / NH NAM VET / EDIT

vsvcr2s

Wayne Michael DeHart   (June, 2021)

I

1) Bought
2) a bus
3) ticket to
4) San Francisco
5) on a Winter morn,
6) nineteen seventy-two.
7) Stopped over in Chicago.
8) Ate. Changed buses. Twelve passengers
9) boarded as I watched. One caught my eye.
10) Busty brunette looked my way, chose the seat
11) just behind mine and settled in for the ride.
12) In the long dark hours under inky skies, she reached
13) between the seats and grabbed my attention. Hello there.
14) Joined me at daybreak. Poked, probed and nudged me. Touchy. Feely.
15) “Going home to San Mateo. Tired of the road. Need a break.”
16) Still, she displayed a zest for life that I had just lost. Broke. Broken.
17) The miles and hours raced by as we shared our secrets, stories and desires.
18) Rest-stopped in Reno. Casino called. Watched, wagered, won. Merged, two into one.
19) Crossed California’s great Bay. End of the line. I planned to stray. She planned to stay.
20) Hesitation. Long goodbye hugs. She ran, then stopped and turned. “Come home with me.” I did.

II

1) Worked
2) days, nights
3) at the new
4) Hatch Plaza store.
5) “Manager, Hardlines”
6) was my title, my job.
7) New building, new staff, new start.
8) Giant by name, link in a chain.
9) Herman was boss man, Joe his right hand.
10) They called the shots, assigning worker bees
11) to departments and aisles that suited their styles.
12) Three funny and bright young women stood out, stood tall.
13) Spirited, vivacious, each one forcing me to fall
14) head over heels, smitten by each, but by one most of all –
15) the blue-eyed blonde flirting away. ( ‘Twas okay, back in the day.)
16) Seven years younger she was, out of my reach and out of my league.
17) Or so it seemed. Looked past her. Kept my distance. Abandoned the yearning.
18) But nigh she stood, then moved so close, so near, whispering music to my ear.
19) Enticed, enamored, so much to say, but listened instead to the words she said:
20) “Can’t get nowhere if we don’t start somewhere, so take a break, and let’s see what’s in store!”**

III 

1) “Have
2) a friend
3) who could use
4) another friend.
5) Come with me and George
6) this weekend to her place.”
7) Weighed down by work and classes,
8) I needed a pause. “Count me in.”
9) Along the eighty mile ride southeast,
10) I was able to convince myself that
11) no matter how things might go with this stranger,
12) my presence there would offer promise, not pretense.
13) A young mother she was, battle-scarred beyond her years.
14) My own path, fraught with challenges, left me tired, overwrought.
15) Her daughter away when we three arrived, she was free to fly,
16) joined by a couple she held dear, with George and his lady and me.
17) We all headed out to a club on the coast to gab, drink and (ugh) dance.
18) Their worries soon waned. (Mine Wayned. ) High spirits reigned unconstrained. (Driver abstained.)
19) But one strain remained – my mug left undrained. Peed by the roadside. Everyone cheered.
20) Back at her place, she and I sat up all night together. Our time had just begun.

IV

1) Whipped
2) cream on
3) French cheesecake.
4) Rough day. Wound tight.
5) Need to breathe, escape.
6) Lakeland night life, live band,
7) half mile down the street. Why not?
8) Strode past the buffet to the lounge.
9) Place was dead. Bouncer looked bored. “Slow night,
10) slim pickin’s, man.” Fine. Came for the music.
11) Sat at the bar. Ordered my one beer. Nursed it.
12) Band was weak. Played some Robert Palmer. No one danced.
13) A plastered princess tossed a bra at the lead singer.
14) Missed. Yelled, “With that voice, you need all the support you can get.”
15) Band kept playing. Bouncer stink-eyed her. She blew him a kiss. Sweet.
16) Tall, pert, emerald-eyed enchantress parked her bum right next to me.
17) Playfully shook my arm. “Watch! Seen this movie before. Free flashing.” Huh?
18) The drunk dudette got up in some dude’s face. Raised her tank top clear up to here.
19) She teetered and tittered. “How ’bout them apples?” Green eyes asked my name, told me hers.
20) Talked two hours. Gave me her number. “You won’t call.” Seven years later, we kissed goodbye.

V

1) First
2) contact
3) made online.
4) Nurse. Registered.
5) Fall, two thousand two.
6) Shared the usual stuff.
7) Some things in common, some not.
8) Should we meet? Maybe? Possibly?
9) Me – considering heading back South,
10) after five years of cursing snow and ice.
11) Her – deep-rooted in the Granite State. Entrenched.
12) Family, friends, nursing career, connections, home.
13) So what if we did meet and a bond emerged? Move? Stay?
14) Dang. I was getting way ahead of things. Again. (Kicked self.)
15) Women turned away from me. “My eyes, Tess, my eyes!” Ouch. Would SHE?
16) I held all the baggage. She held all the cards. Still, she rolled the dice.
17) Mixed metaphors aside, we met on a Sunday afternoon. Her house.
18) Fall. New England. Pats scored a touchdown. We scored a pizza. She smiled – coyly.
19) Her: “Voila!” Two huge delights had been hiding right in plain sight. Me: “Quelle surprise!”
20) I held and beheld them – two sacks of kisses ( Hershey’s, not Miss’s) – for four full years.

****************************

Writer’s Notes:

I had intended to undertake two separate, unrelated writing exercises here: first, to reflect on the diverse beginnings of the significant relationships of my adult life, taking a respectful, sometimes self-deprecating, sometimes light-hearted approach, preferably in verse form, in chronological order; second, to create a 100-line, 5 stanza, amplification of the poetic form termed an ETHEREE, a 10-line verse where the first line contains one syllable and each following line contains one more syllable than the previous one, culminating in a ten-syllable final line. There are also REVERSE ETHEREES, where the first line has 10 syllables, working down to a final line with one. And then there are DOUBLE ETHEREES, a nice visual effect consisting of 20 lines, combining ETHEREES and REVERSE ETHEREES  in one 20-line verse, either thick in the middle or thin in the middle.

I made the decision to combine my two writing exercises into one much more complex endeavor: creating a non-standard DOUBLE ETHEREE, a variation that builds from a one syllable first line then adding a syllable to each descending line to a final line count of 20 syllables, doing so for each of the five stanzas, i.e., each of the five “First Encounters”. The primary challenge to doing this was that, as the lines got longer, while staying complete for most desktop views, a few lines wrapped around on tablet views and MANY lines did so on the smallest devices. Realizing that the aesthetics of the piece would be compromised on those devices, I decided to persist and finish the work, and then present it with this unorthodox explanatory introduction. The 100 lines appear first without numbered lines, and then a numbered-line version follows right below. (Readers with small screens may wish to simply bypass the non-numbered version and drop down to the numbered-line presentation below it. ) Clearly, it is of utmost importance to the intent of the piece that the reader knows where the line-breaks are, to insure that they know which line they are reading. All 6th lines, for example, have 6 syllables, 12th lines have 12 syllables, 17th lines have 17 syllables, etc., thus the numbered version allows the reader to quickly verify how many syllables are assigned to each line, without having to determine which line is being read.

The restrictive parameters encouraged, justified, and in some cases necessitated the use of staccato-style, fragmented word groupings. Traditional sentence structure politely stepped aside as needed. This project intrigued me and was very time-consuming, with countless edits needed to meet the syllable requirements, but the end result succinctly captured the nostalgia, the memories and the moments. The ladies are very real, the first encounters described are hyperbole-enhanced but reality-based scenarios, and the writer thoroughly enjoyed the process of creating visual images with virtual words you can touch.  – WMD



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3 thoughts on “Five First Encounters (1972-2002)

  1. Pingback: Words you can touch – can touch you Back | words you can touch

  2. Pingback: Website Introduction | words you can touch

  3. Pingback: Website Introduction | WordVet.net

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