a day in the life: snapshots & hand-me-downs

“The past beats inside me like a second heart.”

– John Banville

I recently had the luxury of finding an old notebook, one that had been used simply for creative purposes. It was about fifteen years old, but you couldn’t tell by its condition. However, the age of the notebook became more than evident after opening it up. To me, anyway.

Upon looking at the chicken scrawl that was my teen handwriting, and the pages and pages of pretentious writing that were also mine…I had a serious cringe moment. I don’t think of myself as a regular Hemingway, but my immaturity was on full display in those pages. It was also real clear that I had no real insight fifteen years ago. Just based on some of the passages I could stomach reading.

“…of the stiff, suspicious statues –

I stumbled along in agonizing anticipation

The voices were hollow and near

hiding in the plaguing darkness

I stopped –

and took in the sky…”


There is absolutely no meaning to that. I had no idea what it meant then, and I still don’t. And I won’t try to pretend to spin it now.

The notebook is full of writing that makes me grimace. But its writing shows a side of me, one that I had yet to even define at that point.

It’s only one of many notebooks I could dig out and have the same feeling over (I have even at times thought about getting all the “old stuff” together in a chronological fashion of some sort, but life hasn’t allowed for that to happen). They’re the notebooks that are the basis for anything I am now.

They include song lyrics:

A worried man’s got his worried mind

And sees with two eyes that have gone blind

I been standing in the back just trying to get her name

When you’re that hard-up for a little fix

You ain’t clean, just a sober addict

You’re a million miles away, and everything’s changed

And poetry:

“I bought a brand-new mirror

and I hung it on the wall

I knelt before it every night

And prayed it wouldn’t fall…”

And then I stumbled upon this last little piece. It’s a poem that, at even twelve years old, I have found some merit in.

The Day I Left

the day I left,

in shackles and hand-me-downs,

the hardest thing –

that once remembered dream of


I left the beach

I left, strangled and oblivious,

the curtain of hope decaying,

a penned elegy in my place

she was a sad-eyed mystery,

who was whatever I wanted,

sacred remnant

(left the beach for this?)

Instead of diamonds for sand and the sun for a father,

we have this –

Bombs for beachballs, tanks for cruise ships,

war for fun-in-the-sun

I see it all thru concave,

                  visions of mass deception,          

a summertime loss

this wavy clarity takes away

my security

the truth and enlightenment we need is found

in nuclear warfare,

and in our God,



I left in sleep


I left her

I push this way,

you pull the other

The day I left.

I found salvation

But not the kind I hoped to find

I found loneliness

I was blessed

on the day that I left

I guess if I had a point in today’s ramblings it would be to be careful what you hold onto and what you throw away. It may be old and it may be immature, but it also might contain the plotline for the next great American novel.

4 thoughts on “a day in the life: snapshots & hand-me-downs

  1. I should drag out that old book of poetry I wrote in college. I haven’t opened it since because I’m certain that it sucks. Maybe I’ll surprise myself, but I doubt it.

  2. I have a box of journals, which I started keeping at the age of 12. I went through them last year and it felt like meeting my 12 year old self. Gosh, she was immature! But it was also a neat thing to see how I used to think, what I thought was important, etc. When reading through some of your works from your younger self, I remembered reading some of my older poetry and chuckling at myself, thinking “that’s from when I was trying to be a writer”. Smiles. I guess this is how we learn and grow. Great post, Josh. I really enjoyed reading this.

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