A Poem by Robert Ray

This poem is the life of one man, born in the late 1960s, growing up in the 1970s and 1980s, and learning life's lessons. It's a journey, valleys and peaks, paved roads and dirt trails.


First year, Sixties strife, bloodshed;

More MIA, KIA--soldiers and marines,

Another Kennedy, and MLK shot dead.

Taken, forgotten, a King’s big dreams.

After, generations, no path or direction;

Poverty, drugs, murder, destruction.


The Seventies, a Polaroid snapshot,

Bent, cracked, blurred;

A distant memory, a faded thought.

Bicentennial; the red, white, and blue bird,

Printed, painted across the land--

“Under God one nation, undivided we will stand.”


Wild men, ponytails, beards, and corduroy.

Death of King Elvis, bellbottom rock star,

And, Duke John Wayne, the last cowboy.

Scandal, malaise, hardship, near and far;

Nixon, Ford, Carter, bottom of the list;

Americans disheartened, broke, pissed.


Eighties, rebirth, era of Reagan.

First love, high school graduation;

Good fortune, high spirts, hope, again;

Restored pride in our great nation;

Renewed will to fight, new weapons to win;

A shuttle launches, then explodes, death in the ocean;

Oh, their courage, passion, devotion.


Nineties, college degree, new career;

Marriage, son and daughter;

Gun, badge, long days, no fear;

Columbine, armed cowards, school slaughter;

Pain in my soul, courage to write;

Words rush and flow, a novel forms;

Random, delirious pecking, all night;

Family hardships, marital storms.


Escape to the Deep South, sunshine, revival;

Year-round warmth, new house, good times;

Stress, broken bones, lost babies, survival;

More shootings, terror, bombs, evil crimes;

Tragedy, death, agony, fear--home and away.

Hard to watch, hard to leave, hard to stay.


Drink to ease the anxiety, drown the pain;

Whiskey, neat, nightly, quietly, someplace.

Then, awareness; a desire, a need to abstain,

By God’s will, His mercy, and His grace.


Retire, return home, reconnect, revive;

Country house, same dogs, few friends;

Encouraged, free, bold, alive;

New church, time to make amends;

No suits; just faded jean and old boots;

Renewed passion to create and remake,

Something pretty, a wild cherry, cut from its roots.


In the morning sun, coffee, reflection, bursts of hope;

New opportunities, another second chance;

Time to grow and stretch, reasons to cope;

And, reasons at forty-nine to sing and dance.


© 2017 Robert Ray

Author's Note

Robert Ray
Any and all feedback sincerely appreciated.

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Added on November 30, 2017
Last Updated on December 13, 2017
Tags: aging, hope, tragedy, triumph, resilience, wisdom, youth, religion, challenges, midlife, freeverse


Robert Ray
Robert Ray

Madison, IN

"There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves." - Will Rogers more..