Once upon a few years ago I wrote a poem. A piece of mischief is all it was, yet the good folk of the writing site I belonged to took its lampoonery in good spirit and made it a site favorite. Sod’s Law, I guess. I’d put heart and soul, and endless hours into writing prose, yet that little poem topped anything I ever did.
When the aforementioned site bit the dust my little piece of glory went with it. Bye bye immortality. I didn’t worry too much about it then but some weeks later, in a moment of reflection, I got to wondering if I’d uploaded the poem elsewhere. Though I doubted it, I typed the title of the poem into a search engine. Shazam! I found it, in a link at the top of the results page.
It’s a strange thing to see something you wrote, in the name of someone else, on a site you’ve never heard of. It don’t seem real. But there it was; plain as day, on a lonely hearts website. Clicking on the poster’s profile revealed the details of a saint. Amongst other things he claimed to be respectful of others, sensitive, trustworthy and of strong integrity. Even better, in his pitch to the ladies he said ‘I have been told I’m funny and honest. All I actually care about is honesty.’
Devoid of its original structure my poem looked a sorry sight. Since nobody had seen fit to comment on the lifeless slab of words the shameless bastard had copied and pasted onto a showcase page, he hadn’t benefited from his misdeed, but his irksome smugness needled me. A powerful urge to kick his lying teeth out had great appeal, only it ain’t practical online. As for site admin, there was no visible contact address. That left me two choices. Walk away, or…
Have you ever joined a dating site? Let me tell you it’s a real eye-opener. The first thing you gotta do is tick boxes on a registration form, most of them compulsory. Though it discomforted me greatly to declare an interest in women aged 90-99, I figured that was the safest option if I was to make it through the front door and have a good snoop around.
Once inside, I homed in on the poem rustler. Close scrutiny of his profile indicated he hadn’t been active for sometime. That ruled out a showdown and maybe just as well, as a newbie in a black hat’s on a hiding to nothing if he goes all guns blazing at a member of an established community. Better to play it cool, I figured, if I was to get what I wanted.
‘Hello, I’m a man called Valance, and I’m here to right a wrong,’ I said, on the newbies introduction thread. Without identifying the poem or the rustler, I explained why I was there, and called upon the site’s hierarchy to resolve the problem.
I’m sure there are plenty of sincere, genuine people in those places, but they ain’t without varmints. A couple of those varmints popped up with comments on my intro, causing complications I didn’t need. In previous lives I figure they’d have been flies on a cow’s ass. Don’t say much for my face, I know, but you get the picture. I don’t know what they were doing on a dating site anyway, since neither used a real name and neither displayed a photo.
Twixt fending off varmints I carried on snooping around. Some of the profiles I saw were just too good to be true. One woman’s profile was pure Hollywood. Too bad she looked like Lassie. And the men, well, I never saw so many pot-bellied, self-proclaimed Mister Wonderfuls in one place. I got some interesting private messages too; all women; all foreign; all expressing undying love and a yearning to live happily ever after with my bank account.
Well, four days of conducting myself like a gentleman got me nowhere. Moderators came and moderators went, without leaving a word. As my patience wore thin I posted a comment under my poem. Besides releasing some frustration, it gave me a lot of satisfaction to call the jasper for what he was, in a message that was there for all to see. Surprise surprise, up popped one of the nefarious no-goods with a comment that put me right on the spot. He suggested I provide a link that would prove I’d written it. Picking my words carefully, I told him I had plenty of proof that I’d be happy to discuss with the powers that be, and suggested he go mind his own business.
I was out on a limb when I decided to send a message to a friend. Miss JJ knew the full history of the poem. I told her the where and why, and gave her a link. I figured she might like to keep an eye on things from a distance, and bear witness to whatever happened next. Well, I should have known better.
“Hi! My friends call me Miss JJ. Just came on here to support a friend in their plight against plagiarism. Been out of the dating game for a while, and now I'm here, might just dip me dainty toes around the ether!”
Yup, the one and only Miss JJ came crashing into the place, backing me up and instantly trebling the weight of the cause. And was I glad to see her. We might fight like cat and dog sometimes but when the chips are down, she comes out fighting. And she knows how to swat flies.
Miss JJ’s profile made interesting reading. Hell, if half of what she said were true, I’d marry her myself. ‘Full figured, with a few extra pounds,’ she claimed. Well, as someone who’s watched the back of this full figured beauty of dubious age, it ain’t hard to figure out where those few extra pounds are.
But I’ll hold my hands up and tell you this; Miss JJ was magnificent. When it comes to fighting injustice she knows just one way to do it – her way. Her intro, my intro, the poem thread, it didn’t matter. Her three pronged attack brought new impetus to the cause. Hell, did she stir things up. Those view counters just rattled along and in three days, it was all over. The end came when she broke down the right door, pinned the right person and got the poem deleted.
Job done, it was time to get out. But then Miss JJ went missing. I found her drooling over some fella’s profile.
‘Just doing some research,’ she said, as I dragged her out of there.
‘But he’s rich!’
‘Maybe he is. But he ain’t rich enough to buy your class. C’mon, let’s get out of here.’
Folks get lonely sometimes. Sometimes it’ll pass in a couple of hours, other times… well, it’s a sorrowful thing to feel alone in the world, especially at night. Nighttime is the worst time, ‘cause that’s when loneliness really bites. Maybe you feel that way sometimes. Well pull up a chair and listen good, ‘cause I’m gonna let you in on a secret.
Once upon a long time ago a little boy sat hunkered on a porch. Alone in the dark, he’d been whupped again and though his sobbing had ceased, he carried a heavy heart. He wasn’t a bad kid, but his Pa had a fearsome temper and a whupping was never far away in a house where praise and affection were unknown. Weren’t that his mama didn’t care. Though she tried her best, she knew her place and had little say in the upbringing of her son. It wasn’t the first time the boy had cried alone, but this night things were different. His Aunt Mabel was staying over.
Aunt Mabel knelt and put an arm around the little boy, and hugged him real close with a kindness that sent tears rolling down the boy’s cheeks.
“Levitt, please don’t cry. I know it’s hard for you to understand, but your Pa loves you, I know he does. He just doesn’t know how to show it. And your Mama loves you. She loves you so much. You’re her big boy and she’s real proud of you. And so am I. We all love you, Levitt.’”
Then Aunt Mabel told the boy something he’d remember for the rest of his life.
“Look at the stars, Levitt. See the stars? The stars always know when somebody's watching. One of them is yours and it’s looking at you right now. And when your star sees you looking up at the sky, it’ll puff out its chest and in a squeaky little starry voice it’ll shout to all the others. 'Look at me! I’m Levitt's star and he's watching me right now.’ And because your star is so proud and happy, it’ll shine brighter still. Can you see it Levitt? Can you see a star that shines more brightly than the others?”
The boy looked real hard at the sky. Sure enough, one star shone brighter than the rest.
“Wherever you go and whatever you do, remember your star is watching and you’ll never be alone. And if ever you’re sad and blue, your star will be too, and you wouldn’t want that now, would you? Now dry your eyes and put your face straight. I’ll fix you some supper.”
Well, the little boy grew up to be a lean mean rootin' tootin' fella. No matter where he went, or whatever he did, he never felt lonely anymore. Even on cloudy nights he knew his star was up there somewhere, and that was enough. So next time you're feeling lonesome just tilt your head skyward, and look for the star that shines brighter than any other. It’ll be yours.
Women are the most wonderful things in creation. There, I've said it. It’s a beautiful thing for a man to lie peaceably beside his sleeping woman. He'll watch the gentle rise and fall of her chest. He'll listen to the sound of her breathing. He’ll cherish her warm softness and he might even stroke her hair. Maybe he'll trail his fingertips over her face. Aware of her vulnerability, he might rest a protective arm around her. Most of all he’ll gaze in wonder, and savor the inner peace that comes to a man in the presence of a woman with her mouth shut.
My woman set to work on a new fence today. Ain’t easy hammering posts into land that’s bone hard, and I wouldn’t be a man if didn’t lend a hand, so I went and got a shovel and told her to try digging a hole first. Made the job a whole lot easier, I reckon, but before she got three posts done she was complaining about blisters and fatigue; seems women are always bellyaching about something. Well, for the sake of a peaceful life I went and got her a pair of gloves, and told her to rest a minute. Anything to oblige, that’s me. I’d have put up the damn fence myself, only someone’s gotta sit on the porch and look out for hostiles.
‘Excuse me, I’m sorry to cut in on your story but…’
‘Who are you? Ain’t hostile, are you?’
‘N-no, I’m Harrington Knowall. I’m here to help. Friends call me Harry.’
‘State your business Mister Knowall, and make it quick. I’m trying to tell a story here.’
‘And you tell it well, only it’s tell tell tell.’
‘What do you expect? I’m a storyteller.’
‘But everyone knows you should show show show.’
‘Instead of telling a reader it’s not easy to hammer a post into hard ground, you could say the post recoiled off the soil, having barely scratched the surface.’
‘Because showing, not telling, will make your story more interesting.’
‘Hmm, ain’t it wrong to favor one at the exclusion of the other?’
‘Oh no, showing is much better than telling. It allows a reader add two and two together, and make four, for themselves. Instead of telling us your woman was suffering from fatigue, you could have said your woman sweated as she toiled and…’
‘Alright Mister, that’s enough. Would you like me to tell you I’m blazing mad, or shall I just kick you in the nuts?’
If a man has 12 posts to his name after 8 years... and he needs 250 posts to personalize his blog... then he ought to hit his target sometime in 2176. Sheesh!
Separate names with a comma.