To My Favorite 17-year-old High School Girl
By Billy Collins

Do you realize that if you had started building the Parthenon
on the day you were born,
you would be all done in only one more year?
Of course, you couldn’t have done that all alone.
So never mind;
you’re fine just being yourself.
You’re loved for just being you.

But did you know that at your age
Judy Garland was pulling down 150,000 dollars a picture,
Joan of Arc was leading the French army to victory
and Blaise Pascal had cleaned up his room –
no wait, I mean he had invented the calculator?
Of course, there will be time for all that
later in your life, after you come out of your room
and begin to blossom,
or at least pick up all your socks.
For some reason I keep remembering
that Lady Jane Grey was queen of England
when she was only 15.
But then she was beheaded, so never mind her as a role model.
A few centuries later,
when he was your age,
Franz Schubert was doing the dishes for his family,
but that did not keep him from composing two symphonies, four operas
and two complete masses as a youngster.
But of course, that was in Austria
at the height of Romantic lyricism,
not here in the suburbs of Cleveland.
Frankly, who cares if Annie Oakley was a crack shot at 15
or if Maria Callas debuted as Tosca at 17?
We think you’re special just being you –
playing with your food and staring into space.
By the way, I lied about Schubert doing the dishes,
but that doesn’t mean he never helped out around the house.




My Luck 

I love this one. Part of my “quotes from better writers” group.
by Joyce Sutphen

When I was five, my father,
who loved me, ran me over
with a medium-sized farm tractor.

I was lucky though; I tripped
and slipped into a small depression,
which caused the wheels to tread

lightly on my leg, which had already
been broken (when I was three)
by a big dog, who liked to play rough,

and when I was nine, I fell
from the second-floor balcony
onto the cement by the back steps,

and as I went down I saw my life go by
and thought: “This is exactly how
Wiley Coyote feels, every time!”

Luckily, I mostly landed on my feet,
and only had to go on crutches
for a few months in the fifth grade—

and shortly after that, my father,
against his better judgment,
bought the horse I’d wanted for so long.

All the rest of my luck has to do
with highways and ice—things that
could have happened, but didn’t.

“My Luck” by Joyce Sutphen from First Words. © Red Dragonfly Press, 2010. (buy now)

“As The Twig is Bent…

So is the tree inclined…”.

Click on the graphic to play (sorry, but there’s a 30-second ad in front of this). 

Screenshot 2014-07-15 16.29.40

My oldest posted this on Facebook today and added this:

“For Dad, the editor of all my elementary, middle, and high school school papers.”

Our boys had parents who are both writers and editors, so they never could get away with sloppy writing. I believed, and believe, that writing is hard, but a vital skill if done well.

They’re both pretty good writers now, and voracious readers. It really makes me feel good when one of them will say something like this. Makes up for the teenage years!

Weird Al Yankovich on “Word Crimes” and good writing.  

This if for TK Kim. Sorry, TK. This is Google’s translator. Bing is just hopeless. I hope this doesn’t make you sick. 🙂


Mon plus vieux publiés sur Facebook aujourd’hui et a ajouté ceci:

“Pour le papa, le rédacteur en chef de tout mon primaire, moyen, secondaire et de lycée papiers.”

Nos garçons avaient des parents qui sont à la fois auteurs et éditeurs, de sorte qu’ils ne pouvaient s’en tirer avec l’écriture bâclée. Je croyais, et je crois, que l’écriture est difficile, mais une compétence essentielle si bien fait.

Ils sont tous les deux très bons écrivains aujourd’hui, et des lecteurs voraces. Il me fait vraiment sens bien quand l’un d’eux dire quelque chose comme ça. Fait pour les années d’adolescence!

Weird Al Yankovich sur “les crimes de Word» et une bonne écriture.


“The lyfe so short, the craft so long to lerne." --Chaucer


Poetry, Photography, haiku, Life, word play, puns, free verse


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