My First Poems

As a lad I attended the Bradford Area School District in Bradford, Pennsylvania, and had some excellent teachers who encouraged my creative side. In 9th grade, Mrs. Mary Ann Johnston raved so much about my "Frank Luke" poem that I started writing verse on a regular basis. Then, in senior high, Mrs. Elzear Schoch always gave two grades for each composition. One was for the creative ideas and the other for grammar. That gave an imaginative person (like me) a real chance to succeed despite his average language skills. Also in high school I had Mr. Duane Pletcher for journalism. He taught me how to structure my ideas and stressed the value of professionalism in writing. The good instruction continued at Mansfield State College where Mr. Joe David Bellamy gave a lot of individual attention to those of us who cared about poetry. Following are two poems that got me noticed by my teachers. "Frank Luke" describes the heroism of an American World War I flying ace, who specialized in shooting down German observation balloons. Mr. Bellamy thought "Three-Mile" could have been written by one of the English Romantic poets. What a kudo that was! FRANK LUKE//Frank Luke,/A braggard of a man,/Took off at dawn/In his Spad.//Wehner, the only/Friend he had,/Helped him/With his daring plan.//Diving at that balloon/Was like playing poker./He asked his friend/To watch for Fokkers.//Luke finally signaled/That he was ready,/Pulled down the throttle/With a hand that was steady.//He dove straight down/With never a thought/As lead and shrapnel/Whizzed by./He fired his machine guns/Until they got hot/And blew the gas bag/From the sky.//He landed back/At his home base,/And pride shone on/His ruddy face.//His first victory/He made that morn/And the "Balloon Buster"/That day was born.////THREE-MILE//Wandering lonely lost in love/I followed paths of woe/Until I came to meadows soft/Alive with moon-fire's glow.//I sat me down upon the moor/And smelled the withered flowers/That grew with thistles brown and bent /About a ruined tower.//Foundations filled the sacred spot,/Irregular they stand/Where Swedish farms once neatly stood/Above an old mill dam.//Their stones were round and smooth and cold/And scattered on the plain/Fruit trees that once adorned the grounds/Now lie in soft decay.//A rusty cross-cut's broken blade/Lies stranded void of power/Near three miles of tainted stream/An unmarked grave turns sour... Hey, ya gotta start somewhere!

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