The Poem Patrol, Volume Nine: “Hard Day” and “Why Me?”

Hard day sign
Image copyright (C) 2015 by Tony Held, all rights reserved.


Oh man,
What a hard day
Came my way
From the moment my eyelids
First fluttered open
While snug in bed I lay.

It was so hard, it was surreal,
And I could not help but feel
As if all the universe
Was dumping its filth upon me!

Now here I sit
Feeling drained and ragged,
Looking out my window
At the lamp lit darkness outside
As I sit here and try
To drag myself out of the pit
I was tumbled in…
Dear God above, how I beseech You
That tomorrow will be far different.

(Originally published on July 8th, 2014.)


why me sign
Image copyright (C) 2015 by Tony Held, all rights reserved.



Why was I the only one
To be shattered
By the madness that man put us through
While everyone else escaped being so battered?

Why was I the only one
Who started acting strange at family gatherings
While the rest of my father’s tortured brood
Effortlessly slipped into polite chattering
With everyone else in attendance?

Why was I the only one
To get repulsed by certain things
Thousands of others embrace
With plastic smiles on their face?

Why am I the only one
Who still bleeds inside my soul
Over past trials and tribulations
That burnt me like so many hot coals?

Why me, oh God
Why me?

(Originally published on February 15th, 2014.)


The Poem Patrol, Volume Eight: “Suicide By God” and “Colonel Mitchell’s Heart of Oak”

Suicide by God

He slumped down
By the side of the road,
His face twisted in a grimace
That quickly became a frown.
Lifting his eyes
Towards the dark cloudy skies
Approaching from the southwest,
He raised his arms and said:

“Oh Lord
Send a tornado,
Send a barrage
Of deadly hail,
Or if all else should fail,
Drown me in a deluge.
I wish to die today.”

The ringing phone
Back in his apartment
Had nothing but creditors
On the other end of the line;
And a visit from the Sheriff’s department
Was in his future
Because his rent neared
Its third month in arrears,
And the envelopes with “Final Notice”
Stamped on them in red ink
Kept piling up on his desk,
Reminding him every minute
Of how deep in debt
He had begun to sink.

Growls of thunder reached his ears,
And he looked upward again and said”

“Lord, I cannot kill myself
With my own hand,
Because everyone says it’s a sin.
Even if you are rich and famous,
They will still come and say ‘Shame on you’
If suicide is something you decide to do.
So I beseech you, oh Jehovah, kill me today.
I cannot live anymore.”

Thunderclaps assaulted his senses,
And a heavy deluge began to fall.
He thought of all his unpaid expenses,
And the looming threat of the sheriff,
And opened his mouth wide,
Willing the rain to pour on in
And fill his lungs…
But the deluge ceased
As suddenly as it began.

The man looked up,
And an incredulous look
Sparked within his eyes
As he looked towards the southwestern skies
That now had nothing but blue behind them.

Instead of taking it as a good sign
That everything would be all right,
He glared up at the heavens,
Oblivious to the parting drops of rain
That stung his eyes,
And cried:

“Damn you, God!
Why didn’t you kill me today?
I have nothing left to live for
So why do I still breathe?
You are slowly killing me
With all those damned bills
And that double damned unpaid rent,
So again I say:
Why did you not finish
What you have started?”

Then the clouds parted
And the man was bathed within a circle of light
So intense it was blinding
He fell silent at the sight…
And felt a spark of belief in a benevolent God.

(Poem originally published on August 25th, 2014.)


Colonel Mitchell’s Heart of Oak

Colonel Mitchell wanted all the airplanes
Of the Army, Navy, and Marines,
Under the command of just he.

He did songs and dances before the U.S. Congress
To press his cause
And wrote so much
About the power of air
He finally got entangled in his superior’s hair.

He kept on opening his mouth,
And putting his pen to paper,
In a manner akin
To a stubborn as a wagon driver
Lashing at his team
While fording a creek
Even as his hubs sank even more deeply into the mud.

He used fragile flying machines
To sink a mighty dreadnought
And then led mock air raids
All over the place;
Like a prophet, forecast an attack by a foreign power
On the harbor which has waters of pearl;
And had a glimmer of an idea of the mass slaughters
That would one day be inflicted by flying machines.

But finally ol’ Colonel Mitchell opened his mouth one too many times,
And got hammered flat
Right to the mat
By the 96th Article of War
During a court-martial the secretary of war said
Was not a “vaudeville show”
But at which humorists and politicians appeared
To spread mirth and hot air
Whilst they sat in the witness chair
(Sure sounds like vaude-ville to me buddy).

Many a military man, politician, and air power advocate
Thought Colonel Mitchell was a jerk,
And that nothing but self-serving ego lurked
Beneath all he would do or say.

General Jimmy once served under the man
And thought whilst looking back
That ol’ Colonel Mitchell
Was man who needed more bamboo
And less oak in his emotional makeup.
But the colonel went to his grave
With his heart of oak intact…
I cannot help but wonder
How many of us have such a heart.

(Poem originally published on November 14th, 2014.)


The Poem Patrol, Volume Seven: “Negativism” and “The Invisible Fence”

Negativism sign
Image copyright (C) 2015 by Tony Held, all rights reserved.


Go away, negativism.
I am sick and tired of the discord
You cause deep within my soul,
And the way you burn me
Like so many hot coals
Day in and day out
As you scream and shout
At me while I try to achieve
Peace of mind.

But still you remain
Such a persistent bane,
That torments my soul
In countless ways.
Even when I sit and pray,
Your quiet voice lingers at the edge of my conscience.

Go away, negativism.
I’ve had enough of your baptisms
Of self-doubt
And depression
To last me a lifetime…
But I know where you came from.
You were a seed planted
By a man I once trusted,
A man I used to call “dad.”
A man who went and nurtured your seed
With lies and falsehoods about me
That I began to believe…
And so you sprouted deep within me.

(Poem originally published on May 13th, 2014.)


The Invisible Fence scene
Image copyright (C) 2015 by Tony Held, all rights reserved.


Another nice day
Has dawned outside my window,
But I cannot get away
Thanks to all of the things
Hemming me in right now.

An invisible fence
Surrounds me on all sides,
One made up of dollars and cents
Painted a reddish hue.

I tried and tried
To smash through it,
I hacked and pried
Hoping to squirm through it…
But I was forced back each time
Tumbling back into the grime
Left behind by drab, harsh reality.

Oh God, when will I break through this fence
So I can finally commence
Living my life once again?

(Poem originally published on July 2, 2014.)




What Does “Kerfuffle” Mean?

kerfuffle sign
Image copyright (C) 2015 by Tony Held, all rights reserved.


In my recent post “Book Versus Book” I wrote: “A far cry from the literary kerfuffle [emp. added] of the mid-1990s which saw journalist Paul Hendrickson go after Robert S. McNamara over his alleged lies about the Vietnam War in the latter’s 1995 book In Retrospect: The Tragedy And Lessons of Vietnam with a book of his own which claimed to tell the truth about McNamara and Vietnam.”

What does the word “kerfuffle” mean?  According to the Urban Dictionary‘s definition,  it means “A social imbroglio or brouhaha. An organizational misunderstanding leading to accusations and defensiveness.”  According to Merriam-Webster’s definition, it simply means “disturbance, fuss,” and is chiefly used in British (aka UK) English.

I chose to use this word in the passage quoted above because I felt it aptly summed up a situation where one author rebutted another’s book with their own in an emotional manner, which the Hendrickson versus McNamara contest most certainly was thanks to how emotionally charged the former’s book was.  Therefore, it was a kerfuffle to the max.



Book Versus Book

Book versus book sign
Image copyright (C) 2015 by Tony Held, all rights reserved.


I recently came across this article about two biographies of legendary entrepreneur Steve Jobs.   One of these biographies, Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs, was criticized for his alleged overemphasis on the abrasive side of Jobs’s personality.  Enough of Jobs’s friends, colleagues, and relatives were irritated by issacson’s biography that they willingly backed another, Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli’s Becoming Steve Jobs, which is said to treat its subject in a more even-handed manner.

I cannot offer an opinion as to which book is more accurate, having not read either one. Nor am I at all familiar with Mr. Jobs and his life story.  The reason why I mention these two biographies about him is because they are a prime example of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in action.  Issacson painted his word picture of Jobs, and Schlender and Tetzeli offered theirs in response to his out of their conviction Jobs had been given a posthumous raw deal by Issacson.   Admirers of Steve Jobs now have two books they can read and decide for themselves as to which one paints the truest portrait of the man.

Thankfully, the authors of the competing Jobs biographies have gone about it in a respectful and tasteful manner. A far cry from the literary kerfuffle of the mid-1990s which saw journalist Paul Hendrickson go after Robert S. McNamara over his alleged lies about the Vietnam War in the latter’s 1995 book In Retrospect: The Tragedy And Lessons of Vietnam with a book of his own which claimed to tell the truth about McNamara and Vietnam.

I read both of their books. In my opinion, Hendrickson’s retaliatory 1996 tome The Living and The Dead offered zero evidence as to McNamara’s infidelity with the truth and all but painted the man as an evil genius second only to Ernst Starvo Blofeld.  All Hendrickson’s Robert S. McNamara lacked was a cat to pet while he sat in his office dreaming up the latest military operations in Vietnam.

The case of Hendrickson versus McNamra eloquently demonstrates how waging war in the literary arena can get downright mean and dirty—a major risk for any author who wishes to confront another with a book that offers their side of the story.

The Poem Patrol, Volume Six: “Scared” and “Depression Point”

Scared sign
Image copyright (C) 2015 by Tony Held, all rights reserved.

I am so scared
I can scarcely find the words
To describe this feeling
Which is steadily eating
Away at my peace of mind
Deep down inside.

“When will the next shoe drop?”
I think over and over,
As if I can somehow deflect
The miserable things that do not respect
What I want out of life
From sweeping in and causing me so much strife.

Good God I am I scared,
And I sometimes think
The Supreme Being up there
Is just sitting on His throne blissfully unaware
Of the entreaties I send Him
Begging for my safety
As this unseen menace heralded by fear
Stalks ever closer to me.

If only I could see the future
And know when each and every shoe will drop!
I would be a little less scared
And a bit more prepared
For whatever miseries await me
Out along my life’s path.

(Originally published on June 25th, 2014.)


depression point sign
Image copyright (C) 2015 by Tony Held, all rights reserved.


I’m stuck
At Depression Point
There’s no way out
Of this dark
For all roads into this
Dead-end joint
Come in
From all four points of the compass…
But none lead out.

It is a town I can never leave
Freedom from it
I just can’t conceive
And so
Bit by bit
I waste away in Depression Point
No matter how deeply I wish
To go
And leave this place
Encircled by a smog
Of dead space.

What did I deserve
To get stuck here
In Depression Point
Oh God most high?
Will You at least
Explain why
I am damned for all eternity
In this city
Where all the roads lead in…
But there is no way out?

I want to hang my head
And cry
At being stuck here forever
In Depression Point.

(Originally published on January 28th, 2014.)


The Poem Patrol, Volume Five: “My Rage At God” and “Wedding Contaminated”

My Rage At God sign
Image copyright (C) 2015 by Tony Held, all rights reserved.


Oh God, I feel depressed
Over how everything for me
Has gone and regressed
On back to times
I do not ever again want to be…
And yet, I am utterly powerless
To do anything about it!

Hey there, Man Upstairs,
I thought you were the Supreme Being
Who always cares?
How can You leave me here
In this ever gathering darkness
Without sending any miracles my way
That comes in to save me
Quicker than a Deus Ex Machina?

Oh how I hate you at this moment!
You just sit there on your gilded throne,
Answering the prayers of others
And all the while give me the cold shoulder
While this encroaching darkness continues to smother
My life again once more…
Oh thanks for nothing, you bastard, for leaving me
Stuck here at the threshold of Hell’s door!

(Originally published on June 29th, 2014.)


Wedding Contaminated sign
Image copyright (C) 2015 by Tony Held, all rights reserved.


Twenty years ago
I traveled across half the nation.
A big family wedding
Was my destination…
But while many a guest
Thought it was a great party,
For me it was a private agony
And I did not share their zest.

That horrid day and night
I was ambushed in front
And ambushed from behind
From unexpected things
That came at me left and right…
But no one else within my sight
Suffered so much deep inside their souls.

The more it sank in
Once I got back home
Coated the word “wedding”
With emotional contamination,
And I began dreading
The sight of a wedding invitation
Sitting in our mailbox
Because it would mean
I would again be roped in
To being dragged to a place that had a pox
Hovering over it for me…
Isn’t it crazy
How a time of pure agony
Can contaminate something faster
Than the meltdown of a nuclear reactor.

(Originally published on July 14th, 2014.)



Goodbye Ghostwriting

closed sign
Image copyright (C) 2015 by Tony Held, all rights reserved.


I have done a number of ghostwriting projects since I began my full-time freelancing career.  They were mostly SEO-oriented articles, but I did write the first draft of a short story for a client (which I edited his draft of) as well as sweated out two book-length manuscripts.  I say “sweated out” because in both instances, despite working from detailed outlines, I kept battling raging cases of writer’s block.

I decided to put full-length ghostwrites on hold, but I was willing to do smaller ones, especially book blurbs-something I am very good at.

No new ghostwriting clients with smaller projects have appeared since I made that decision.  I have thus decided to close down the ghostwriting part of my freelance business.

I will still ghost in material as needed while doing major editing projects, but the next book-length projects I am going to concentrate on will be my own.

Come to think of it, the writer’s block I suffered while doing the book-length ghostwrites probably came from my lack of personal connection to the projects.  Ghostwriting may pay well, but it is a very impersonal experience for a writer.


The Poem Patrol, Volume Four: “Financial Stagnation” and “Stuck In Penury On A Nice Day”

Financial stagnation sign
Image copyright (C) 2015 by Tony Held, all rights reserved.


There is nothing that can frustrate
All of your hopes and dreams
Than when everything in your life stagnates….
Good God, how such times
Make me want to scream!

And it is always the bank
The bank
The lousy bank
That causes stagnation in my life,
Oh the times I was grungy and stank
Because of financial stagnation at the damn bank!

I hate all the times my life went and sank
Because of financial stagnation at the lousy bank…
God how I wish money was something
You could pluck off the limbs of a tree,
Free from financial stagnation we all would be
Forever free!

(Originally published on June 29th, 2014.)


Stuck in penury on a nice day sign
Image copyright (C) 2015 by Tony Held, all rights reserved.


A lovely day
Has dawned outside my window,
But I cannot go out and play
Because I have to watch what I spend,
Because not enough clients
Have flooded my inbox with job offers,
And so the money in my coffers
Are so damn low I could scream.

I am in agony
As I sit here looking out my window
Thinking of all the places I could go
Were I not stick in penury’s dismal misery.

God how I feel so gypped!
I just survived a hellish winter,
Only to get forced to sip
From a vat of red ink all summer!

I feel like a wild animal
Forced into a cage
As I sit here consumed
By frustrated rage
As the sun shines bright
From a picture-perfect sky
Outside my window…
Please God, deliver me
From the hell of penury
So I can be free
To enjoy the summer of Twenty Fourteen.

(Originally published on June 30th, 2014.)