Wednesday, April 18, 2012


I've been writing for publications since I was in middle school.  Back in the day my work was primarily centered on humor (or what I thought was funny), with heavy doses of science fiction and essays and poetry tossed into the mix.  During my college years I frequented poetry readings in "coffee houses" that were laced with reefer smoke.  My hair was long, my beard full, but most of my verse was light, with occasional forays into thoughts about suffering and death by slow degrees.  My first published piece--and for pay nonetheless--was a poem I wrote in high school and during my college days I crammed notebook after notebook with verse.  However, despite a fair number of published pieces during my ISU tenure, I gave up writing poetry for decades (accept for the occasional light verse that I wrote to Becky).

In more recent years, as I've spent more time writing essays and book chapters, I've also tossed poetry into the mix, and now I write a poem most every day.  So, for this National Poetry Month, I found this decent poem about the history of surnames and vocations.  I've always considering myself a writer (at least since I was twelve years old)--and my own name "Outcalt" is from the German and literally means "old Gold" or "old money" or "I don't have any money".

I choose the latter meaning . . . writers typically starve.  But at least it is a vocation accomplished through mind and hand . . . and still is.

And we can't forget that there was a day when everything was made by hand.

Butcher, Baker

How simple life was, once primeval,
When names reflected occupation
And guilds were keys to wealth and station
In the world of the Medieval.

The Butcher hacked, the Baker baked,
The Carpenter was hammer, nail.
The Sailor would unfurl his sail
And thirst for glory never slaked.

The Tinker formed his silver dam,
The Painter was his brush and tint,
The Priest was prayer and firmament,
The Shepherd crook, and goat, and ram.

Each name reflected path and plan,
The tools and talent of a trade.
The world was thereby shaped and made
By no dream larger than a hand.

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