‘Sometime ago black teeth screamed for simple peace’

I wrote the above line to a poem in the late 60s when I was young and even more stupid than I am now. I thought I was somewhat of a genius poet. More delusion than anything else.

Actually, life has given me a rule book that I pretty much follow. This rule book has been born out of experience built over the last 62 years. Sometimes down. Sometimes up. But never in the middle, where mediocrity lives like a clinging shadow. Life has been good to me.

Way back when, though, I was more a ball in a pinball machine  bouncing from one side to the next, with no rhyme or reason. I fancied myself a guitar-playing songwriter, which really was more show than discipline, work or talent.

I was running the streets of San Francisco and even had a very short stint in two rock ‘n’ roll bands. One was called “Hot Poop” and had only one live performance in Bangalore, India, of all places.

I was supposed to be the lead singer. Only problem was I can’t sing and I had no idea of the lyrics to any of the songs.  The musicians were quite good. The rest was a disaster.

Then, there was this band, “Velveeta, The American Cheese Band.” Now that was a band. We even did a demo for a record producer in Hollywood, whose claim to fame was producing the guitar-driven band, “The Ventures.” The only really good thing about that band was the name, which was given to us by the lead guitarist’s best friend.

We were offered a chance to go into the studio but the core of the band wanted to go live in Mill Valley, Calif., and mellow out. I thought that was a bunch of crap, to say the least, so I grabbed my backpack and headed back to college.

Now, why am I sharing this with you today. As one gets older we begin to reminisce. Take stock of what has been, is, and will be. My life has been colorful, to say the least. I have such good fortune, being born into a well-to-do family, and then falling down with my own selfish troubles, only to come back strong with a new sober life. I wouldn’t change one minute of this journey. It has been surprising, unpredictable and exciting. I couldn’t have asked for a better ride.

One last thing about the poem in the headline. It was published in a college poetry publication and, if I remember correctly, which is entirely possible I don’t, it went something like:

“Sometime ago black teeth screamed for simple peace;

 a bus ride takes us to the next stop where blind men

offer trinkets and directions to the men’s room.

I am lost as always with a firm grip on my companion’s

confusion as she eyes me with contempt.

She is darkness and light.

Walking away, she brushes by me as if I have leprosy. I

know that’s not so, but the hanging clouds are a reminder

I’m just a fond memory to most folks.

The bus coughs and spits exhaust as it winds up a

rocky slope to the next stop – waiting there patiently is a

hanging sign, creaking back and forth in the dusty wind.

It reads: Peace is Unavailable.

Talk soon. 


About stevewhitmore

Former award-winning newspaperman and broadcast journalist, both radio and TV, spanning three decades. Army-trained paralegal, court bailiff and prosecutor's lead investigator for the 8th Infantry Division's Judge Advocate General's Corp., Mainz, Germany. 1973-1975.
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