Poem From My Past

Lea Wait, here, thinking about writing I did (literally) years ago. I’d always wanted to be a writer. But when, in my early and mid twenties, I was living in a tiny walk-up in Greenwich Village (where else would a writer live?) and trying to write, I only ended up creating stacks of poems. True, I was also working full-time and going to school at night. I felt too young to write fiction. But poems were short, and the ones I wrote were generally ironic or sarcastic … they were fun.

Recently I glanced through several folders of them (yes, I kept some, as memorabilia,) and found this one. In light of the 50 Shades phenomena, I decided to go back to the Lea Wait of the early 70s, and share.


My dear, it’s embarrassing.

I was hoping you wouldn’t be asking.

Every family has to have one.

He lives in New York. Greenwich Village, even.

Not married.

At least alone, he lives.

In this world, some comfort.

No; no beard. But hair – you should see!

Girls? Girls, he doesn’t like.

Don’t be looking!

Boys he doesn’t like neither.

Independent, he calls it.

Stubborn, I tell him.

Doing? Smoking strange things, no doubt.

Writing a novel, he says.

They all do that down there.

His sister Sarah says he hasn’t found himself.

If he finds another self,

I’d like to see it, my dear.

And the tribulation …

But have you seen the book?

Autographed — he could do less?–

To his dear mother.

Sophie, to have an author for a son!

Only a mother could tell.

And skip chapter five …

He made it up, sure.

All those boys, and girls, and


Particularly page 87.

Third paragraph from the bottom.

Could my son have done this?

It’s going to be X-rated, sure.

My son, the author.

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12 Responses to Poem From My Past

  1. Okay, now I’m imagining you hanging out in coffee houses with Ginsberg. Wrong decade, I know, but the image persists, complete with bongos. At least I know where that comes from: a scene in the movie Bell, Book and Candle. Obviously, cabin fever has gotten to me!


  2. MCWriTers says:

    Ha ha! Maybe we should all resurrect our old poetry. I’d love to find the dramatic narrative poem from middle school, but it is long gone. Maybe that paper on Virginia Wolfe. Sometimes I reread some old thing and am amazed. Mostly I want to burn them. But your poem is good fun. You really captured the slightly titillated, slightly shocked tone of mother’s friend.


  3. Karla says:

    Particularly these lines made me laugh out loud:
    “His sister Sarah says he hasn’t found himself.
    If he finds another self,
    I’d like to see it, my dear.”

  4. Lea Wait says:

    Glad people enjoyed my trip to the past! Fun to re-visit a life that was ….!

  5. LD Masterson says:

    I once tried writing romance..with plenty of sex tossed in. I actually received some very positive feedback on my ability to write a steamy love scene. Then I thought of my mother reading it. And I switched to writing mysteries.

    • MCWriTers says:

      LD Masterson….thinking of your mother reminded me of a time, long ago, when my mother was babysitting my kids and she found my first Thea Kozak mystery, in draft form, and read it. When I got home, she said, boldly, “I read your book.” I said, “So what did you think?” She said, “I liked it, but Kate, the sex, how did you know?”

      I rewrote the book. But another friend tells the story of getting a book for her mother and then reading it and finding a lot of good sex. She was embarrassed and trying to figure out what to say to her mother, when she mentioned the book and her mother said, “Yes, I was worried about you girls reading it.”

      Kate Flora

  6. Lea Wait says:

    Oh, I understand, LD! (I read somewhere that writers couldn’t really write freely until their parents were dead.) I know I struggled with several scenes –not necessarily sexy ones, either! – knowing my parents (and children!) might read them. Still hesitate to write about certain themes .. and never use family names for characters in my books!

    • Karla says:

      Yes, Lea, as you say, knowing family might read it, you “Still hesitate to write about certain themes…” This is a really helpful discussion here. Now I know I’m not alone thinking about artfully and diplomatically (if that’s the word) navigating full ranges of emotions, those I feel and those I invent (sometimes a fine line indeed). Sitting judge and jury for my own writing can really get in the way. I wonder about this, a lot. If how to deal with certain ‘charged’ themes was a panel discussion at Crime Bake, I’d sign up for that session! Some topics are likely more or less awkward or easy for some of us than others.

  7. Donald A. Coffin says:

    Very nice. And funny. Sounds like you’d make a good Jewish Mother.

  8. sandy gardner says:

    loved your poem. reminded me of the poem I wrote about my son, when he was an early teen. Started with him being up in a tree in the backyard….and (of course) continued on with him not knowing who he was yet.

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