A Book Recommendation

“The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.”

Ernest Hemingway

1969 was a pivotal year for the USA. For the nation it was a time of remarkable achievement, civil unrest, and moral confusion. Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. It marked the high-water year of an escalating and undeclared war. The NY Mets won the World Series. Woodstock happened. And, for this writer/poet, it was the beginning of my senior high school year.

I grew up in the heartland of the country, just another kid from the industrial city of Akron, Ohio. My hometown was a few miles down the road from KSU (Kent State University) and the small town of Kent. My Dad, a veteran of both World War II and the Korean War. Both my parents wanted Vietnam to end, but with honor. I graduated from high school in early June, 1970, just weeks after the shootings at KSU, the bloodshed and the deaths perpetrated by members of the Ohio National Guard. Those times were like living inside the pieces of a broken mirror, still held together by the wooden frame. It was fertile ground for my coming of age story; one that would take decades to write.

On this fifty-year anniversary of 1969, I am joining with seven other veteran writers…journalists, freelance writers, and social and political commentators…to add my story as part of a diverse collection of eyewitness accounts, personal tales, and uncommon confessions commemorating that historic year. The book is entitled: Are you Still Listening? 1969 Stories and Essays.  Companion authors and witnesses to this transformative decade are: Brent Green, Carol Orsborn, Ph.D., David Cogswell, Bob Moses, Jed Diamond, Ph.D., Greg Dobbs, and Richard Adler.

For those who experienced 1969 firsthand, this book can stir memories and invite reflection about a momentous year. For those who were born after, the book reveals truths concerning a rebellious time and an engaged generation that believed it might change the world.

Many touch points from that decade seem to be cycling back with intensity into the present day. The Beatles gave their final public performance on the rooftop of Apple Records in London in 1969. I truly hope that 2019 offers this nation and the world another bite at the apple in terms of resolving them.

Robust Resilience

by Rob the Bicycle Poet

This third half of life...
            it is
            the sweetest part.
The time that adds...
           it takes away.
The time for
           finding your voice,
           and telling your story.
For the inner man or woman
           to come into alignment 
           with the outer, just the same.  
Not with words
           borrowed from Mark Twain
           or Shakespeare.
Tell the ones
           that come
           from your heart. 

I believe in the power of truth and beauty
            to guide us,
            along an ascending path.
The pace is measured,
             Not easily observed, except,
             for glimpses in retrospect. 
Watch out for the test,
             sometime in midlife.
             Because the path doesn't end.
Not even when the Sirens scream (Seductively beckon),
            Slow down, (Get out of the way.)      
            Think about retiring.         
But the body knows better, 
           "Better use it.
            Or lose it."
And, the heart beats on,
           Opening wider,
           Ready to receive...
Because the soul understands, 
           the time is at hand,
           to create something that lasts.

So it was that this poetry began,
           with a timely rediscovery 
           of the bicycle.
Today, taking a break
           at your bicycle speed
           might alter the course of your life.
A moment on the flowing tide which,
            when taken at flood,
            can lead on to renewed vitality.
Happiness doesn't come
           with fortune or fame.
           Health is just as elusive.
These fruits are sweetest in the pursuit. 
           And for that, the bicycle can be
           Your best friend.

January 2019