YOLO by Walter J. Wojtanik
WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE, WALTER WOJTANIK?
Wildly weird and wonderful,
Another in a
Long line of like named gents.
Taught to respect his elders and teach his children.
Even when he is at a loss for words, he’ll
Regale you with his verbosity.
Who is this monstrosity of poet prowess to think he could
Overpower the world of metered rhyme by his sheer numbers?
Just put it this way,
The day he is silenced is the day
Another Walt has been relegated to dust.
Never faint of heart; he can’t start to explain
It. But to name it, his style would elicit a smile and make you think of the
Kinetic poetics he spews. Then you might have him pegged!
YA DOESN’T HAS TO CALL ME JOHNSON!
I was “Pinky”.
A bouncing bit of baby boy.
Feet first into the world
wide-eyed and alert with
rosy cheeks coming and going.
I was “Mały Władziu” (Little Wally),
a tribute to two generations
of Walters of Polish decent.
No ego problems arise in
the baby blues eyes of the diminutive one.
I was “Sonny”,
my father’s bright light.
When his own beacon started to fade
he drew comfort from my flicker
a lesser flame with the same name.
I was “Schroeder”.
Keyboard prodigy at eight,
a great start of a creative bent.
It all went from my head to my fingers,
the melody still lingers.
I was “Neutron”,
younger brother of “Proton”.
Where he was positively charged,
I was a negative ion, not venturing
beyond my set orbit; playing it safe.
I was “Banger”,
short for “Wallbanger”,
the junior carpenter
making a clamor with my hammer,
just like my father.
I am Walt,
verbose to a fault,
composer, lyricist, playwright,
and poet. You know it runs within me,
for better or verse, my words are winners.
It never mattered what they called me,
as long as it wasn’t “late for dinner!”
WHEN YOU LEAST EXPECT…
From across the pond you beamed,
a bit too perky with that quirky smile.
Full of style and wide of eye,
I’d spy every fawning glimpse I could.
I should have known I’d be shown the door
to your heart. This was our start.
Long before anorexia depleted you,
years before cancer defeated you,
we shared what true hearts share.
Hidden in that soulful stare,
I found you and had discovered love.
Polonia, where the falcon flies
above your land in your hallowed skies,
I long to walk where my ancestors lived.
You have given me a name and you
have given me a heritage, it is where
the root of this poet is grounded.
Founded in freedom, your borders
had changed with regularity though wars
and confiscation, oh blessed nation
where the falcon flies. My heart swells
with Polish pride and my eyes fill with
your wonder. I am under your spell.
From Oświęcim and Igolomia and Poznań
to America, the connections elicit sighs
for you Polonia, where the falcon flies!
Uncle Harry was a sailor; a submariner with tales to tell. Our families would alternate visits from one summer to the next. Dad’s blue Plymouth Belvedere wagon was the magic carpet that swept the eight of us (Mom, Dad and six kids) up to Kittery, Maine every other year. The following summer Harry and my Aunt Marianne would bring their six kids home to Lackawanna. Sixteen of us cramped into whichever house served as accommodations. Sometimes relations would strain toward the end of even the happiest of visits, but it was what it was. The cousins paired up closely in age and we played, fought, talked, shared, loved and cried when the time came to return home. Did I mention Harry lived on Love Street? No matter how our visits had gone, we always hated to leave Love behind.
My brother Ken was a sailor; a submariner with tales to tell. Serving at the same base, the place brought back memories and afforded us a chance to return to Love once more in our adulthood. It is equally heartwarming and sad to be one of your own memories.
Embers of love live
in the hearth of kith and kin;
always glows within.
ONE SUNDAY NIGHT IN FEBRUARY
I had just turned eight
and I never knew music could touch me
in the way this sound had.
They came as four lads; hair and guitars
and stars before their fame
became apparent. Across the pond
they traveled and young girls
would unravel in shrieks and screams
and have wild dreams at the sight.
One Sunday night in February
there was nary a report of disturbance
or crime; ahead of their time and my
life had been altered. Walter would never be the same.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah!
ALL IN PASSING
Oh, gentle man, born in another land.
It was the land of your birth and
my rebirth through heritage.
You were a second father;
my grandfather. Your final days
stay with me long after you have gone.
You were my friend. You were my mentor.
You gave me more in my brief time with you
and it has blessed me a thousand-fold.
But you had gotten old. And arteries
were not meant to harden as you became frail.
And watching you sail off of the ladder
when you knew better than to chance
the happenstance that befell you.
I can tell you, your death affected me greatly.
It is only lately that my mortality haunts me.
Your memory taunts me in a good way,
as they say, all in passing.
ALWAYS LIKE A SONG
Poetry, you are the lyrics of my life
sung to a melody of my own composing.
Supposing I was without that tune, would I
just as soon be without my words; be less expressive?
And would each successive note fall flat?
If that were the case, this place would be a dull dance,
rhyming zombies in a static trance. But my romance
with music sustains me, it trains me to write
and right or wrong, this life ain’t much to start,
without a song in my heart.
A glimpse of my music and the poetry within it; A Dream For My Heart!
LAUREATE AT THE STAKE
Sacrificed on the altar of reason,
pages ignite; an incendiary conflagration
of words and rhyme – metered and meted.
Ashes strewn, windblown; sown upon
the fertility of a mind left wanting to be heard.
Every word burning like midnight oil to ravage
all this savage heart has toiled to achieve.
Like decayed leaves these poems smolder.
Line by line, they feed the fire; burning.
Learning that poetic purity is akin to obscurity,
remnants of thought filling the air
like sparks off to incite the masses and high grasses
in smoky simile; nothing is left unsaid.
Laureate at the stake burning, take the time to learn.
There is rhyme enough to burn.
* Note: On being selected the 2010 Poet Laureate for the April PAD at Writer’s Digest.com/Poetic Asides with Robert Lee Brewer. I seemed in a hurry to get there, and humbly find I still have much to learn and accomplish.
AISLE FOR TWO
Two in white, right where
we thought we would be.
Down the runway on a sunny day
in April, full of promise and hope.
Before family and friends to send
us into the future, a bit unsure
but willing to find our way.
All on that sunny April day.
You never slept,
always waiting, crocheting,
swilling to excess on coffee,
and searching for a few more puffs
to satisfy your nicotine craving.
Always saving everything
for everyone else, and denying
what you needed; your love exceeded
all expectations, and these revelations
were late in coming. Summing you up
was always hard, for with every flower,
or hug, or card we made for you,
your love stayed true. You played games
with me, wee hours and round after round,
I found your acumen at Yahtzee! ® or Scrabble ®
would have me unraveled when morning came.
But all the same, I am no one without your
tender heart and re-assuring hand.
I stand here today because of all you gave me!
You had truly saved me. You were gone too soon!
For Irene Marion (Kura) Wojtanik, 1930-1986
WHERE OUR HEARTS BELONGED
It is where the heart is.
We had left her years ago
but our hearts remained; an empty shell
where the essence of us resides.
They can cover her in vinyl,
but in the final determination
the combination of sunny yellow
and a mellow burnt umber trimming.
had her brimming with love.
A two-family dwelling with
full cellar. A fellow could find sanctuary
with nary a care; there was always family there.
A room paneled and trimmed
(all on the carpenter’s whim)
Bunks and captain’s beds,
where we were born and bred.
It remains in my heart and head,
where my memories come.
I’ll always her call home.
I heard the words in your voice,
and I am frozen in my seat.
Six years have passed since the sound
of you has graced and comforted,
in a simple greeting you have trumpeted
a fanfare that touched my soul and I can’t
control the tears and emotion.
I never would have thought you would
have that effect on me this long after passing.
It will be a lasting memory held dear.
It was as if you were still here.
“COULDA, WOULDA, SHOULDA”
I could have been a contender,
but my end justifies the means, doesn’t it?
I mustn’t regret this life, so imperfect
and strife laden. It has been a haven
for many good things. It has given me
family and friends; supportive and cherished
and on the day I perish, I will be rich with love.
I could live it all over again.
I would have done things slightly different
and sent my poetic prowess to work sooner.
It had sat latent and silent and I was hell bent
on being something else. A musician was the dream,
but I seem to have the dexterity, but not the desire.
So making words sing has been the next best thing.
My “audience” plays along in chorus and between us, we do sing.
I would love to have had befriended them earlier in life.
I should have been a better person than I had been.
It was a sin that I always looked at horizons that sat
in the solitary distance, when the things that were
right before my eyes were never quite embraced.
I directed my time and energy to the me nobody knew,
and it’s true, I barely knew myself. I should have not
wasted rhyme and time on reasons that still perplex
and I should not be vexed by them now.
But, I am having a wonderful time so far.
I look forward to the beauty of many more days,
with no regret. In that regard, I am set for life.
Too many years wasted
tasting the bitter brew of defeat.
Sadly, my only foe was inside my head.
I should have stood and fought instead,
because I’ve found I have a lot to say,
and in my poems have found a way
to express what my heart held fast.
And at last the world will know
as my confidence grows, I can finally
show what my muse is made of.
Take your shot, you only live once!