Sunday, May 08, 2022

a coming of age

Magaly Guerrero at Poets and Storytellers United wanted us to " take a poem or story you wrote many years ago (preferably, one that wasn’t exactly awesome), and rewrite it."

So I took out some old journals with yellowed and crumpling pages, picked a less offensive "poem", sat down, did some cutting and adding to this 44 year-old work, and hey, here it is...

photo by dsnake1

The original -

A coming of age

Like aging cognac
I seem to have matured
Or at least I have thought I have been.
To have waded through the tide
Of uncertainty
Of the 60's and early 70's
Stumbling and drenched
With the foam and spray of confusion
And battered by the waves of failure.
Now I stand on a beach,
The deep sea,
And the flotsams of disaster behind me.
And like a new-born child
I have sandcastles to build...


The rewrite -

a coming of age

We see the sea, raging, and we wade into it.
We are youths then, we thought we could not die,
Not the reckless 70's, not rock music, arcade games.

We have our heroes and they carry knives or guitars.
Later we dig foxholes and wait for the enemy to come.
The enemy is Time, endless as hell, and his ally Age.

We see dreams fade like a mist, our pockets empty.
Good friends die or walk away and failure throws us
Like cigarette butts and spittle by the wayside.

Now I stand on a beach, the gulls lifting off the pier,
The deep sea, and the flotsams of disaster behind me.
And like a new born child I have sandcastles to build.


I think the rewrite is more 'visual' in a way, and the original suffers much from clichés. Also, it has been cleaned up in a format for easier reading. Which do you, dear reader, prefer, the original or the rewrite? 😃

Heart - Stairway to Heaven Led Zeppelin - Kennedy Center Honors

© cheong lee san ( dsnake1 ) 2022

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Blogger Marja said...

Hard to compare I actually love the original as well but in a different way
What I love about the second one is the third stanza which put the stress on lost dreams
It makes me think of the line "I thought I had something more to say' in the song 'Time' from Pink Floyd
Love the last line very much 'like a new-born child I have sandcastles to build'

08 May, 2022 08:35  
Blogger Rosemary Nissen-Wade said...

Ah yes, those sixties and early seventies! Daring times for some of us girls, too.

I liked your original piece; the mood was very well conveyed. But yes, you are right, it is full of clichés, though I didn't notice them immediately (well, that's the nature of clichés I suppose, that all but the most glaring slide past unnoticed). The new version is much deeper, at once more arresting and more to be lingered over and pondered.

08 May, 2022 09:54  
Blogger dsnake1 said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

08 May, 2022 11:18  
Blogger dsnake1 said...


Thank you!
Glad that stanza reminds you of a timeless song. :)

I should have used this song in my post. great lyrics, e.g.
"You are young and life is long, and there is time to kill today
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you"


Thank you!

I have been told, clichés are a poems worst enemy. I think it's really not so bad.
The new version is like more frames have been added to the film. :)
I missed the 70's, it was a really wild time.

08 May, 2022 11:19  
Blogger Gillena Cox said...

OMG such powerful imagery in both versions of your poem
In the second version this stood out for me
"and failure throws us
Like cigarette butts and spittle by the wayside."

Thanks for dropping by my blog.


08 May, 2022 18:52  
Blogger Debi Swim said...

When I read the first poem, I thought, how can it be improved? I'm not sure you improved but deepened. So, you can see I liked them both but the second really took me back to those days. I recognized my feelings and confusion right along with yours.

I think I should be rewriting more.

08 May, 2022 20:16  
Blogger dsnake1 said...


Thank you! Glad that you enjoyed both versions of the poem. :)


Thank you!
They don't call the 70's pivotal for nothing. So much changes in geopolitics, technology, music, fashion. And my own personal life.

I think rewriting can improve a poem. You can give it more body (or less in other cases), a format or structure. Or take it as a fun exercise. :)

08 May, 2022 21:21  
Blogger Magaly Guerrero said...

I like the original piece, the tone and mood match the age of its author. But I love I love the rewrite. It shows that the author has lived, learned, grown... It shows wisdom.

09 May, 2022 06:18  
Blogger Brother Ollie said...

44 years does change us - so cool that you have this "old" piece to look back on.

09 May, 2022 07:48  
Blogger dsnake1 said...


I am glad to hear that in the original piece, the tone and mood match the age of the author. The new version seems more organised, more mellow in tone. Yes, I think I have grown as a poet/writer. :)

Brother Ollie,

Thank you!
Age does change us. And there are more old pieces to look through now. :)

09 May, 2022 22:33  
Anonymous Rajani said...

I love both versions.. the second is more contemporary, but that last line absolutely rocks both poems.

09 May, 2022 22:55  
Blogger dsnake1 said...


Thank you!
yes, that last line is to say "let's move forward". :)

10 May, 2022 00:23  
Blogger Helen said...

I love, love how version #one took me back to the 60s!!!! Forty-four years of writing poetry amazes me. Onward, forward indeed.

10 May, 2022 00:45  
Blogger dsnake1 said...

Thank you, Helen!

Ah, the 60's! The Beatles, Rolling Stones, the Woodstock festival, how music has changed forever. Also, the beginning of the Vietnam War, the assassinations of President Kennedy and Martin Luther King. In a more positive note, the Moon landings.

It isn't forty-four years of solid writing for me. There were many years, decades, that i wasn't writing anything. It was only when I was posting on the net (through poetry forums & my blog) that i started (at least with a passion) again. 😃

10 May, 2022 22:08  
Blogger Su-sieee! Mac said...

Your poem is me. I read your original poem and I flashback to being young reflecting about life. I read your rewrite and I’m now decades older remembering how I felt. :-)

11 May, 2022 02:02  
Blogger dsnake1 said...


Thank you so much! That's the beauty of poetry, to be able to move the reader. :)

11 May, 2022 13:55  
Blogger Rommy said...

The original was cool, but dang there's so much more heft in the re-write. The imagery is much sharper and it reinforces the theme of having seen so much.

12 May, 2022 07:00  
Blogger Priscilla King said...

I like the new version, but possibly that's because it's moved in the direction of form. (I have no Poetic Sensibility. I think form is what makes the difference between verse and prose, and free verse looks like rough notes.)

12 May, 2022 08:34  
Blogger dsnake1 said...


Thank you!
I like what you said about the imagery being much sharper in the new version. 😀


Thank you!
Form still has its place in contemporary poetry. and yes, free verse looks like rough notes, sometimes. Free verse " does not use consistent meter patterns, rhyme, or any musical pattern."But this does not mean that it cannot use any sort of form or structure. 😁

12 May, 2022 22:28  
Blogger said...

"The enemy is Time, endless as hell, and his ally Age."

That line is the grown version of the 60's and 70's-who we were then.

13 May, 2022 09:01  
Blogger magiceye said...

The concept in the old one was glorious! The rewritten one obviously sounds polished and sophisticated. Both are beautiful in their own unique ways!

13 May, 2022 13:56  
Blogger dsnake1 said...

Thank you, magiceye! :)

13 May, 2022 21:29  
Blogger colleen said...

I like them both. It's uncanny that I just wrote my version of this but haven't posted it yet. We have a lot in common generationally. I like the idea of getting busy with sandcastles. And we know they don't last.

14 May, 2022 23:08  
Blogger dsnake1 said...

Thank you, Colleen.

I would love to see the versions you wrote.
Sandcastles don't last, but still we have to build them. :)
I think people of our generation are lucky (or unlucky in some eyes) to have witnessed some of the greatest changes in innovation and social order in the history of Man. Just like what social media is doing now.

14 May, 2022 23:48  
Blogger dsnake1 said...

["The enemy is Time, endless as hell, and his ally Age."
That line is the grown version of the 60's and 70's-who we were then.]

Thank you, purplepeninportland. Yes, it's the grown version of us that grew up in those eras. :)
Thank you for the comment, it was somehow directed to the spam box. Just saw it as I was doing some housekeeping. :)

16 May, 2022 23:37  

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