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Poem for the End of the Century

Ginger Murchison

Dear Son

At the gate to 2000 AD,
you are twenty-five.

I remember twenty-five.
I was taller than the trees,
wars were fought on other soils,
and cancer was another man's disease;
all my bridges touched the other shore,
and I could jump the chasms
other people made.

I hear the voice of twenty-five
in your itinerary
to jobs, and bank accounts, houses,
debts, and godlessness.

I see the well-worn Gucci bags you've packed
with warranty deeds to houses in the woods
and at the beach,
promissory notes for BMWs, slim thighs,
straight teeth,
ledgers of smart buys on the stock exchange,
and hope that your government will still care
about society's security.

I've come to watch you go,
warmly send you off,
and even though I'd like to go along,
my shoes stick deep in my own century.

Take what you will of me,
oddities for your museums,
then ride your technologies,
but mix the colors in the street
into wild visions.
Invent words and cadences
to push poetry off the page.
Encourage the forests,
and never be ashamed
of looking up to see the tops of trees.

January, 1998

Ginger Murchison's questions:

While the poem is clearly a message about what my generation has deemed important, is "the motherly advice" at the end of the poem too pedantic and preachy to the next generation? Is there too much talk and not enough imagery?

The word "gate" at the beginning of the poem begins the "traveling" thread that runs throughout....does it stick out immediately as odd or questionable? Would that be corrected if the poem were titled "Flight to 2000" or Concourse 2000, but then how would I get it across that I am talking to my son?

Any suggestions for a better title?

Ginger, the poem works explicitly well in taking the reader into an event of life. it has a human charm to it as it so invites the reader in with every image. it felt like being led. as a reader i had hoped that i would not be plunged into sorrow. and i was not. the writing also did something special and unique... it seemed to relate time to seasons... thank you. paul
USA - Sat Apr 19 04:46:52 2003
Ginger, enjoyed this work greatly. imho the strongest poem is the one that carries a tone of conversation. It's simple beauty lends more grace than all the accessories. Good to see your work again. Shad
Chigcago, IL USA - Sat Dec 8 16:46:23 2001
I liked your poem very much...Simple words combined to good affect. A sweetly wry comment on a generation gap. :-)
Marc Libidinsky
La Habra, CA USA - Sat Jul 17 12:39:29 1999
Ginger, I'm only 15 but when I read you poem I really felt how life was for you and how different it now is.I loved the lines "and even though I'd like to go along,/my shoes stick deep in my own century." That was a really awsome line that made you kind of think. You don't sound too "preachy", just concerned like any mother should be for a daughter in our world today. I just wanted to tell you it was a lovely poem
Delaney Mc Daniel
Grand Junction , Co USA - Sun Jan 3 00:06:32 1999
Ginger, I like your poem, and have only two commments. First each stanza but the second to last begins with an active verb. I remember, I see, I hear, etc. Keep this active verb configuration throughout the second to last stanza, because it forcefully implies that you can come to the edge but not breach the chasm that has been created by a new generation. Secondly, I love your transition into the last stanza. It continues the thought left off in the previous stanza without being redundant.
Emory Rollins
Birmingham, Al USA - Fri Nov 20 09:27:25 1998
Ginger, choosing the word "gate" is very appropriate, no changes are necessary there. However, in the body of the poem, you may want to add more imagery, especially images of "chaotic" events, which would ultimately give a better presentaion of your message. In addition, in regards to whether the poem is preachy or not, I would say that yes, to a certain extent it is, and i derive that mainly from your usage of the word "godlessness" in third stanza. I think the word takes away from the universal implications of your work. Good work and good luck!
S. G.
University Park, PA USA - Sun Nov 15 00:09:52 1998
Ginger, your poem really moved me. Don't change the title. It drew me right away to the poem. In the second stanza, I would remove the two "and"s. In the third stanza, I would change "to jobs"to "careers" and remove the two "and"s. Also, I like the ending. The style changes in the ending, but I think that it works.
Debra Guckenheimer
Israel - Mon Nov 2 02:02:15 1998
Loved the poem. It really gave me something to think about. You accomplished exactly what you wanted to say, in my opinion anyway. Way to get your point accross with out using superfluous words!
USA - Thu Oct 29 16:40:22 1998
I love the lines "I hear the voice of 25 in your itinerary" as well as the two lines about shoes sticking in this century, as well as the first three lines of the last stanza. However, the last few lines fall flat for me. They seem somehow cliched (all I can think about is "can't see the forest for the trees) but the rest of the poem is so progressive that I feel it should be ended with "push poetry off the page". I also really like the way you have controlled the rhythm of the piece with your line breaks and spacing. Can't wait to read more of your stuff! :) Monique
CA USA - Tue Sep 8 18:10:09 1998
Ginger, this is my first time on APW forum. I like your poem very much. It doesn't seem pedantic to me at all. The image you create of 25 in the second and third stanza rings true to me. Where you speak of your shoes "sticking deep" I get the image of a mother letting her child go, sad but joyous and hopeful. in the last stanza is the best advice anyone could hope for. I don't think it is preachy at all.
Berkeley, Ca. USA - Wed Jul 15 10:59:54 1998
Ginger, Your poem contained a purety that helps shape the readers response. This includes the last stanza and the title as well. While removing the last stanza would perhaps make this wonderful poem seem less preechy that would take something away from the work. Leave it as it is, sometimes preechy works.
Bill McMahon
Lake George, NY USA - Mon Jun 15 11:18:37 1998
Ginger, Even though I'm relatively speaking young in comparison to you, am I finding that this poem struck deep inside my soul.

This is a type of subject that someone, even a 26 year old male like me, can find comparison to. All of us knows the feeling of losing loved-ones and it makes one think of one's mortality. I myself lost 2 friends almost 5 years back and still, the thoughs are coming back to haunt me.

You made me realise once more, that even though I'm only 26, that life's much too short to forget the essence of it and, most of all : forgetting those around you that makes it worth living. We all need to give those around us more space as to enjoy a place under His sun.

On the question of your last reminder : there is nothing wrong with it, without that last piece your work would seem unvaluable, invalidated.

Thanks for a nice piece of work! PJ
Bloemfontein, fs South Africa - Tue Jun 2 02:45:17 1998
Instead of feet "stuck deep" use rooted. Otherwise, the poem is quite good.
Laura Matejik
PA, Pa USA - Mon Jun 1 18:09:25 1998
Ginger, I disagree with the idea of removing the final stanza of your poem. To end at that point may lend a slight air of selfishness to the voice of the narrator; the final stanza, reflecting again on the son, speaks sweetness and love.

I also disagree with the idea of omitting the final three lines. I think these may sound slightly out of place, but nonetheless they are beautiful. I do believe, in fact, that they are my favourite part of the entire piece. In a way, I consider them a poem unto themselves. -vv
Valian Velador
Canada - Wed Apr 29 11:26:00 1998
Very nice. Don't change the title, it is definately necessary. I do feel the closing is a little preachy, BUT, I would only take out the last three lines, the images of putting your generation in a museum, of being saturated in technology, and the culmination of "push(ing) poetry off the page" are key. Good work!
Heather Emilie Reidinger
USA - Thu Apr 16 00:22:33 1998
I liked this poem; the only suggestion I would make is to take out the last stanza entirely: end it with "my shoes...century". The last stanza seems like it was added after the original piece.
Laurie Greenleaf
Oakland, CA USA - Tue Apr 14 23:55:03 1998
Ginger, I did so enjoy this poem. It gives a thought of changing generations enhanced by a changing world around us. I especially liked the part about your shoes,it gave me a sense of future/past. May I suggest something along these lines: My grandmothers shoes stood steadfast in the century before me. I feel it will enhance your knowing where your son is now.
Chicago, IL USA - Fri Apr 3 00:17:26 1998
Ginger, Your poem made me think of my own mortality. This is a subject I have thought about. How do you tell your children that their lives are open? I liked your "gate" image. You follow it through and I see you standing at an airplane's gate with the "itinerary" and the " Gucci bags". But I think that it gets a little lost in the passage about the stock exchange. Also the image at the end of encouraging the forests you might make the last line stronger by changing the form of the verb. As someone who is not young that image of shoes stuck in the century is very powerful, but I don't think you explain why. I am probably around your age, and I don't feel that way. Having lived over 50 years in this century I am anxious to see what the next one will bring. But you don't convey to me why you have to stay in this one. Otherwise, I think you have captured a lot of what everyone is thinking here.
Barbara Ehrentreu
USA - Fri Mar 27 08:34:52 1998
Ginger, What I gout out of this poems was not the same as everyone else. I see a man reflecting on his own life, wanting his son to learn from him, wanting to be there for his son with the knowledge he has now but also knowing that through time his sone will gain this knowledge also. Great poem.
LEESBURG, GA USA - Mon Mar 23 19:05:22 1998
Ginger, This poem is very nice. I especially like the tension generated between the periods of time past, present and future. The year 2000 is its own time and it seems within that milestone a great deal of awareness about who you are and where you have been emerges. I also like the way you seem to define yourself, in some ways with your son. There is something of last will and testament of Ginger in this which is moving; as a parent so aware of our own mortality, especially when we move into another century, there is so much we want to advise and admonish our children on. But, alas, your son is on his own, you are letting go; and while this is going on, I sense a sadness most parents feel in seeing their children leave us behind. Having said all this good stuff about this poem, there are a couple of things I did not like. The use of "itinerary " in the second stanza is a bit clunky. Also, in the third stanza the part about "your government will..." seems out of place with the mood and flow of the poem. But that could be because of how I read it. Also, the image of shoes sticking deep seems to stretch things a bit. With the imagery of trees I think more along the image of feet "rooted" or something. Nonetheless, there are some beautiful lines and images and moods. I enjoyed it.
Will Jens
Jerey City, NH USA - Fri Mar 20 09:46:06 1998
Dear Ginger This is my first visit to this site. All I want to say to you is that you made the mother strings in my heart ache as I realise the new century will separate my daughter and I into different life stages. The 21st century will be hers to explore with your youth and vigour. It will be mine to reflect in. You've made me think about communicating with my girl in those times across life stages and different centuries of knowing life.
Sydney, NN AUS - Tue Mar 17 04:24:31 1998
The poem is so true the every word. I shows what has happened so far in the world and what the next generation will be coming into. It shows a very vivid picture of what is to come. I love it alot I only wish my poetry could be as good.
Seth Tyler
Goldsboro, NC USA - Sun Mar 15 14:50:03 1998
Ginger, I like the way you addressed the young people who will be the ones to live in this time. I also loved the challenges you presented to them in the last stanza.
Sheila Ferguson
Winter Haven, Fl USA - Mon Mar 9 17:55:08 1998