The Poetry Of Youth

The Many Faces of Poetry

I wrote in an earlier piece that my first motivation for writing poetry was to please a girlfriend. What is more apt, more romantically human, than writing and reciting poetry?

I was fifteen and completely smitten. My amour and I belonged to a group of friends who fancied ourselves as Beatniks, avant garde, fringe elements. Oh, how daring, these suburban kids flirting with dangerous radicals and writers! We weren’t political. We were curious and flying as close to the flame of modern art as we dared.

Our god was e.e. cummings. A close second was Charles Bukowski. Cummings was the defiant rebel and iconoclast. Bukowski was just plain foul, profane and we loved his flouting of middle class lifestyles. The two poets could not be more different. In the classroom we studied T.S.Eliot. We studied Robert Frost. Whee!

Then cummings came along and we were swept up in his lyricism and humor.

since feeling is first

who pays any attention

to the syntax of things

will never wholly kiss you;

wholly to be a fool

while Spring is in the world


my blood approves

and kisses are a better fate

than wisdom

lady i swear by all flowers. Don’t cry

—the best gesture of my brain is less than

your eyelids’ flutter which says


we are for each other: then

laugh, leaning back in my arms

for life’s not a paragraph


and death i think is no parenthesis

e.e. cummings


This is one of his classics, one of his best known poems. In it he exhorts us to pure experience, to FEEL life, not to think about it. That appeals and will always appeal to the young. Bukowski is a different matter.


the flesh covers the bone
and they put a mind
in there and
sometimes a soul,
and the women break
vases against the walls
and the men drink too
and nobody finds the
but keep
crawling in and out
of beds.
flesh covers
the bone and the
flesh searches
for more than

there’s no chance
at all:
we are all trapped
by a singular

nobody ever finds
the one.

the city dumps fill
the junkyards fill
the madhouses fill
the hospitals fill
the graveyards fill

nothing else


Charles Bukowski


Bukowski was more the nihilist, far more transgressive of social norms. He didn’t give a shit! By the way, if you haven’t seen the movie “Barfly”, do so. It is based on the life of Bukowski. It’s a hoot.

I don’t know many high school kids these days, so I have no insight towards their poetic tastes. They have hip-hop. They have the internet. I have no doubt that kids today are as adventurous, rebellious and weird as they have always been. It would be a good research project.

As always with these essays I close with a poem of my own. I’ll keep it brief. It has nothing to do with the subject.


Magical Dancers


Between my pillow and the back of my head

Magical Dancers

in the space where the stubble of my balding scalp

meets the soft fabric of my cotton dream ship

Magical Dancers.

Shall I wake and know this to be a dream?

Dancers dressed in furs and leather

wearing antlers and tusks

tracing circles and hopping

from one leg to the other

drums and rattles, sticks with bells shaking

Magical Dancers in a dream

but my eyes are open, my mind lucid.

This is no longer a dream.. Are these dancers merely

the fleas left behind by the cat as he warmed my pillow?

Surely not! Surely not! But if they are, then I salute you,

fleas, for taking on strange identities

in a world where nothing is quite real

where fleas are shamans, ancient survivors

magicians of blood and skin.

If I turn on my side, what will I see? Fleas vanishing into the cat’s fur

or shamans celebrating the oncoming wave of another dream?


Arthur Rosch

A Midwesterner by birth, Arthur Rosch migrated to the West Coast just in time to be a hippie but discovered that he was more connected to the Beatnik generation. He harkened back to an Old School world of jazz, poetry, painting and photography. In the Eighties he received Playboy Magazine’s Best Short Story Award for a comic view of a planet where there are six genders. The timing was not good.  His life was falling apart as he struggled with addiction and depression. He experienced the reality of the streets for more than a decade. Putting himself back together was the defining experience of his life. It wasn’t easy. It did, however, nurture his literary soul. He has a passion for astronomy, photography, history, psychology and the weird puzzle of human experience. He is currently a certified Seniors Peer Counselor in Sonoma County, California. Come visit his blogs and photo sites.  Photos in these columns are by Arthur Rosch.


Want to be sure not to miss any of Art’s The Many Faces of Poetry segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress.



3 Comments on “The Poetry Of Youth”

  1. I commented on that first post about love poetry and shared the first poem I ever wrote. Since this post is about the poetry of youth, let me share the poem I wrote that most brings youth to mind for me. Thanks Art. 🙂

    Two little faerie princesses
    Dancing in the night,
    A flitting and a fluttering
    Making the forest bright.

    They illuminate the evergreens
    As they dance from limb to limb.
    Happy little faerie princesses,
    Their auras never dim.

    With them, the forest is never dreary
    They dance and sing all night.
    The forest creatures never have a fear
    Because of faerie light.

    When dawn arises in the east,
    They rub their little faerie eyes
    And one last flitting faerie dance they do
    Before saying their goodbyes.

    They flutter to their faerie beds
    High in the trees and then,
    After a day of restful slumber,
    Two little faerie princesses dance again.

    By Kaye Lynne Booth
    (This poem is dedicated two my two granddaughters, Sheryle and Patience)


  2. artrosch says:

    What an absolutely lovely evocation of the magical places of childhood.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A lovely post. Sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s