Herb’s Blog, Herbdate 22147 – 719:
I think I have a structure for the newer poem lined out but it’s not even close to done yet. But here’s a piece from before I started blogging. One of the things I enjoy about and first attracted me to poetry was the wide array of patterns you could use. I had a large number of poems that I had written in notebooks and I wanted to find a way to share them and see if trusted individuals would give me an honest opinion of them so I typed them up in Word and printed a few off. The date of the file is 12/17/03 so the Herbdate of the file would only be 16021. You can tell by the prices in a couple of stanzas that it isn’t too new.
To me it also seems obvious that I was experimenting with some known form of poem but I don’t remember what. The stanzas are unusual for me in that they are sestets and the meter I was thinking of appears to have, perhaps, been anapestic or dactylic. I’m not sure. Meter always gives me trouble because I don’t have any good sense of rhythm. Most lines are 12 syllables, though. The rhyme scheme starts out with ababba and is that style all the way through using different rhymes.
You’ll see the subject of making change come up again and this also was based on a true story. Before the turn of the 21st Century, my wife had a job at a sandwich shop and the computers failed. I showed the “trick” of counting back change to her young co-worker who was enthralled and became the hero of the register, teaching his friends how it worked. “And DUDE! It works every, single time!”
The thing about payphones being only a dime? Yes, you could go into a private booth, where nobody else would be forced to listen to your conversation or overhear your secrets and put a dime in the machine and make a private telephone call. Already in the late seventies and early eighties, the booths were cut down in size to more like a half-shelter. I can remember such barbaric times that the phone company charged you a lot of extra money if you wanted to call someone in a different city or state. I can remember standing in the rain for over an hour with a roll of quarters in my pocket talking to the now Mrs. Herb. When you dialed zero a person called an operator, whose job it was to connect your call to the right party, would collect your money in advance. You started out paying a set amount for a certain number of minutes and as your time was running out the operator would come on the line and say something like, “I’m sorry, but to continue your call you will need to pay (whatever the additional amount was).” Sometimes it was a person and sometimes a machine. Getting to the end of my change I’d say, “Operator, I only have a dollar left. Can we just keep talking until it’s used up and have you just disconnect it then?” “Of course, sir.” Nowadays we have “dropped calls” back then we just knew that our conversation was going to end without saying goodbye. Of course, since the rain was coming from Cloud Nine I was warm walking home.
Anyway, please enjoy, if you can, (live from Herb’s Blog, Herbdate 22147 – 719) and, if you know if I was actually trying to create a certain type of poem, please let me know.
“These new cash registers figure the change for you
But I prefer counting it back into your hand.
Teenagers, kids, and even an adult or two
Just stare at you. They do not seem to understand
We did this before computers filled the land.”
What the old cashier told me was certainly true.
I was standing in a popular fast-food place.
You know the type. Where teenagers learn about work.
Computer broke and the look on the poor kid’s face
Was wondrous as I taught him how. He cried, “It works!”
Showing off to his friends he cried again, “It works!”
He became a hero, this bright, change-making ace.
If you play the George Carlin joke about the phone
From your thirty-three and a third hi-fi record,
(Or perhaps it’s the eight-track copy that you own)
“Give your finger a free ride from zero” is heard.
Describe a rotary dial? It sounds absurd.
Sometimes it seems you’re in a private Twilight Zone.
Now, as you are explaining rotary dial
Here is something that happens to me all the time
You can continue wasting your breath for a while
When you tell someone payphones used to be a dime.
They act like you are feeding them some sort of line.
Their shocked and cynical faces make me smile.
Oh! Here is another thing I cannot pass up.
Gas station price wars at, with gift, twenty-five cents.
Windows washed. Fluids checked. All while he filled you up.
Self-service now. One dollar seventy-five cents.
The price keeps on soaring and won’t ever relent
And never again will you see free glass or cup.
Grampa told everyone that he’d have to quit
If the price rose above forty-five cents a pack,
So he probably had a conniption fit
Paying two dollars and ninety-five cents per pack.
No one seems to quit. Is it will power they lack?
Or is it just that they are addicted and can’t quit?
I like some modern conveniences, ‘tis true,
but there’re things our culture once had but now lacks.
Why don’t we teach again saying “please” and “thank you”
Because it seems like nowadays we gave manners the axe.
Not etiquette. Consideration is what lacks.
Could you bring consideration back, please? Thank you.
I could go on and discuss services at banks
Or watching a pharmacist make his own ointment
Or the mighty cars that were strong as battle tanks.
Why do old people ramble on so? Sentiment.
They talk about olden days and they won’t relent
And instead of a disdaining yawn, we owe thanks.
Herb’s Blog, Herbdate 22147 – 719
I’m old enough to think like this, too.
You really covered a lot of ground in this one. The memories are nice ones — and it makes me sad to think that the memories of the kids these days will include this horrible pandemic. Interesting post for sure.
Yeah, we did not have anything like this, that’s for sure.
Ours took pennies the size of dustbin lids and if you pushed button ‘B’ instead of button ‘A’, it cut you off AND it kept your money…
Loved the poem. If I spoke with an American accent, I would hear myself talking.
Thanks! I take that as high praise indeed. Now I’m going to have to see if there are any youtubes of British people trying to do American accents. I do a very bad “English” accent that would be embarrassing if I triedto use it on anybody.
I have always preferred the rain from Cloud Nine. There’s actually a working payphone about two blocks from my house. (At least, it looks like it would work.)
Give it a try and see.
I just might.
This is very nostalgic but I think you should have shortened the intro. The poem is beautiful by itself and the intro made me feel like the guy who stands up explaining an opers
Okay. Thank you so much for the input and thanks for reading and commenting and not leaving the hancksaw inside during the brain surgery.
Love your stuff herb
I really like your beautiful blog. A pleasure to come stroll on your pages. A great discovery and a very interesting blog. I will come back to visit you. Do not hesitate to visit my universe. See you soon.