The Summer I Learned To Fly by Dana Reinhardt

The Summer I Learned To Fly
by Dana Reinhardt

We’re hitting the books again today! This next book title we’ve chosen for inspiration is taken from the YA novel, The Summer I Learned to Fly by Dana Reinhardt.



In the lazy days of summer in a California coastal town, Drew works at her mother’s struggling cheese shop and indulges her crush on an older co-worker, until she discovers Emmett and becomes involved in his very different world.

Drew and her mother have been a team for all the years since her father died, with pet rat Humboldt Fog as a companion. Thirteen-year-old Drew finally begins to separate and grow into her own person in this crucial summer.


We all had to learn lessons throughout our lives, and the ones that had come the hardest seem to be the ones that stay with us the longest. Whether learning to ride a bike or learning to drive, learning the hard lessons of love or of life (and death), we all grow in the knowledge we attain. Raising our children was an education in itself! Write a poem about some kind of lesson you may have learned that one summer (or any season really!) Maybe we’ll learn a little something  in the process!



    bred dissonance
    when melded with distress
    dismissed with a dispassionate

    This was posted at Poetic Asides too; first time I’ve done that.


    Like a slap to the back of the head
    the awakening begins. Illusions
    become disillusionment, but
    reality is truly a great professor.
    The lesson is clear; that my
    expression is mine and
    competes with no one. My
    feelings steep within with a fire that
    only muse can stoke. The Great
    Tender of the great pretender.

    © Walter J. Wojtanik


    A skill set handed down from Walter to Walter to Walter. Serving at the wooden altar of a carpenter’s devotion. Wood became the medium of this young boy’s wishes; I would dismiss everything else. An “apprentice” at an early age, the stage was set to be adept with tools. And my father had rules. Goggle for safety, guards in place. Keep your face out of the line of the blade. Be sure every cut made was the first and only. By dictate, “measure twice, cut once”. And there were a bunch more. I began with an apron full of 8d nails, handing each up to the man I looked up to! I Learned to measure with precision, a decision that made Dad nervous at first. (He would sometimes curse if I misfired) But the desired effect came eventually. When I mastered his table saw, his raw sidekick knew carpentry.

    In time my focus had shifted from woods to words. Expression in a new medium, had a large impact on me. I could build much like Dad had taught. I did not get caught unprepared. Words shared in poetic pursuit and me more astute to appreciate what he did and the lessons they offered. And each phrase proffered was measured and precise. It was nice to have all these “tools” and inspirations from which to choose in this new endeavor. Inherited from the Master Carpenter, a desire always mired in “trees”; from carpentry to poetry, I have found my comfort zone, my own place. His memory still soothes me. It puts a smile on my face.

    All of life’s lessons
    Take root in the family,
    Branches of the tree

    © Walter J. Wojtanik – 2016

    On Learning Life’s Greatest Simple Truth

    To learn its utter worth, firsthand
    We must tenderly miss
    Someone we love to understand
    How truly dear love is

    I, if my mind is wide awake
    Should always have enough
    With a small loaf of bread to break
    And somebody to love

    Then, should the curse of complaint find
    My mouth, oh Lord, reprove
    Lest in my greed, wide-eyed and blind
    I never learn to love

    Love is life’s sweetest, sacred prize
    Ah, pray we do not wait
    While we trample Want’s paradise
    And learn this truth too late

    (The older I get I find I want much less of things,
    but much more of love)


    If I would put a white bird’s feather
    in the palm of my hand, hold it to
    the sunlight, or open my fingers
    and set it free in the wind,

    if it could suddenly grow wings,
    show me how to likewise fly
    in flitting or in graceful soaring,
    I could forget it for that once.

    Do you know what I am?
    That already I have watched the feathers
    these years flutter down in slow descent,
    opened and closed these hands,
    felt the wind fierce behind my back?

    It is senseless to remember the feathers
    but forget the bird; senseless to coax
    a smile by trembling the mouth
    or by tickling tenderly
    where laughter once came so easily.


    The Lessons of Summertime

    More was learned between the grades
    Then ever in classroom situations
    Summer camp taught about life
    Life without parental supervision
    The family camp in the back woods
    Where we gathered for risky experiments
    Things we’d read about in paperbacks
    Stolen from our parent’s private stash
    The lessons of summertime changed us
    Each differently, but changed nonetheless

    © Earl Parsons

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    One summer day…

    Machismo, Bravado and Braggadocio met for drinks.
    Each one thinks he’s the bigger man.
    Looks can deceive and they all believe
    their charms will have the cuties in their arms.

    The first one played to the ladies, but
    was shot down in flames. It seems
    they’ve heard all his lines before.
    The next was a pushy lout,

    an over-aggressive boy scout, always prepared.
    he never spared them from his conquests
    and adventures, but had them scared at hello.
    The loud mouth was harmless, all talk

    but no game. It was an utter shame.
    Lesson learned in three spurned:
    Smoke and mirrors are great devices,
    but just being you, truly suffices.

    You should always live within your means.
    Things are always smaller than they seem.

    © Walter J. Wojtanik

    The Summer of Hearts

    Nothing happened to me. I spent the summer in eastern Kentucky
    rather than home in Tennessee. The world was in turmoil, I was
    nineteen and a tabula rasa, half finished with college, invited
    to seminar six summer weeks with people who weren’t like me.

    Emerson, Melville, Hawthorne; Maria dried her incredible hair,
    fanned on the grass like a black tablecloth; Stella talked and worlds
    appeared like birds, each one feathered and loud, shy and hungry.
    We listened to Bill Cosby and The Doors. We played Hearts for hours.

    That was a summer of Vietnam. And Monterrey Pop–with Joplin,
    Jimi Hendrix, The Who. There was Rock in our food and drink. Maria
    ate daisies. The Beatles’ “Michelle” was song of the year. The U.S. tested
    nuclear bombs in Nevada. A little brown bat invaded the dorm.

    It was the year Ali refused the army. Smart boys and boys with money
    evaded the draft by staying in school.. I had never talked to a black
    person; they were bipeds from an alien star. That summer one played
    Hearts with ferocity, told a hundred stories, saved the world from bats.

    • Our separate worlds taught us all the lessons they were able to, but probably not all the ones we needed. Still, they were our realities. There was much ado at that time, the best lesson was just keeping your eyes open and paying it heed. A personal history as world history. Exceptional work, Barbara!

    • It’s those bats. They’re to blame. Without a belfry they just run amuck and turn the world upside-down. But in all seriousness, we once spent a month holiday in a house up in the Highlands. The house had bats in the loft. All that lovely scenery, stunning fjords and mountains and glens, and it’s those bats flapping around at night in the rafters that we all remember most.

      • In the hall, just once–maybe twice. And it was a tiny thing. But in the evening, outdoors…There was a little lake with a lighted walking trail. Bats and swifts after mosquitos and moths make a fancy display.

  10. Summers Pass

    We were tied together by summers. We met at a kendo and weapons demonstration. You in your black silk hakama – black on black dragons and your hair in a warrior’s knot and tucked into your obi, I saw you were carrying daisho – big/little – the katana and the wakizashi. My breath stopped in my chest. I was carrying in a duffle, the weapons of the man I was dating – well, third date at this time and to be honest, I had determined this would be the last date. Arrogant and loving to be cruel he wore his long blonde hair in a braid thinking somehow, it made him look like a Nordic badass. You gave a demonstration of the two swords and then began to spar with various partners. But at the end of the day, he rescued me from the badass and won the arms competition. We walked out together and the fairy tale began. Long hot summers together – a garden in the backyard of gravel, boulder, and koi pond and my half filled with veggies and old fashioned flowers. Summers of trips to Japan and sometimes in Europe. Long hot nights of love and hot days of your work in forensics and me licensing engineers. I don’t remember Christmases or Easters or Thanksgiving. I know we had them but it is only the summers I remember.

    You taught me the use of the katana and your language. I taught you to fry chicken and make biscuits. East met South. But then you began to feel the call of your home. We talked and argued and argued and talked and the reality was – you had face to lose if you went home. I was not a trophy. I was short and wore glasses and my hair was long, black, and wavy. I was not tall and blonde. We knew you would be reduced to working in small 24 hour clinics. I was a liability. I loved you and I let you go. After you left, I only remember hot summers of being alone – practicing with my sword and meditating. And somehow, slowly healing. And one hot summer, I met a sweet blue eyed Southern man with kind hands and heart. He taught me again to open my heart and love. I still loved you and always will, but I learned to stand on my own again and to believe in myself. And the most important lesson of all, I learned that summer to love again, to open my heart and trust. I do not know the lessons you learned. But I know you never married. I know you dedicate your life to identifying the sad victims of the “Suicide Forest” and that in the Tsunami, you identified victims and returned them home.

        summers pass In blurs –
       love leaves but love returns and
       hearts heal at long last

    Life’s Lesson Plan

    There’s no foolproof plan
    No secret
    Learn as best you can

    Learning to be me

    What took me the longest time to learn
    was to simply love and accept me.
    It took nearly forty years,
    but I finally learned
    the power others
    have over me,
    is only
    what I

  12. Pingback: Poems: Life’s Lesson Plan & Learning to be me – Wanna Get Published, Write!

    Yard Sale

    Preparing to move that summer,
    we had a yard sale.
    We kept the house open
    to sell larger items.
    While selling a sofa to a neighbor
    a young man walked in and asked
    about the guitar behind the door.
    “It’s not for sale,” I said.
    “My husband wouldn’t part with it.”
    I was called outside then.
    I gave it no thought until after we moved
    and my husband couldn’t find
    his pride and joy,
    his Fender fretless bass guitar.
    The last we remembered seeing it,
    was behind the door.
    I learned something that summer.

  14. The Summer I Learned About Cruelty

    She was my best friend
    my first friend
    she was kind and funny
    and smart – and happy
    until that summer when
    the other kids at the pool
    called her fat

  15. The Chores of Childhood

    It was a small town, a village really,
    and everybody had their special roles.
    There were six churches and with them,
    six types of leaders, one called priest,
    another two were pastors, three more
    by name and function, ministers.
    Not large enough for multiple choice,
    but populated aplenty to require each service,
    we had one drug counter, one hardware store,
    a small post office, an eight-lane bowling alley,
    Sal the barber, and the IGA grocery,
    owned and run by my family.
    There were also tradesmen scattered about,
    working from their homes and trucks,
    plumbers and electricians and such.
    Also scattered throughout the streets,
    most of which ended at the lake shore,
    were thirty or more taverns, but
    that’s a story unto itself.

    I worked in that grocery, performing
    most tasks, like checking and bagging,
    stocking and delivery, sweeping and dusting,
    marking prices on cans with black grease pencils.
    I steered clear of the meat counter, though,
    never trusting those knife-wielding butchers,
    unable to stomach the blood, the smells.
    When the summer folks arrived, mostly
    rich people who did not cook,
    I learned to make potato salads and cole slaw
    and baked beans, a vegetarian in the making.
    The wealthy did not shop, calling in their orders,
    and it was for me to take them their bags of goods.
    Sometimes, I broke an egg or twelve along the way,
    but they never tipped, so it did not bother me much.
    It always amazed me that these people
    with so much gave so little.

    My work did not end at that store.
    A sickly mother, an often absent father,
    a large yard, and the usual requirements of living
    all gave me chores in slew-size.
    I can’t recall if I complained back then,
    but I’m grateful for it now, that work experience.
    It taught how to cook, to clean, to care.
    It taught me the silliness of “someone oughta”.
    It gave me strength when my mother’s
    sickness turned to death.
    It gave me order when my father stayed absent.
    It provided the way to responsibility.
    It provided me with broad shoulders.
    It gave meaning to that lesson about
    Saint Francis of Assisi, where he was asked
    while raking the garden what he would do
    if he knew he would die that afternoon, and
    he said he would finish raking the garden.

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