Home > Random Thoughts > The Twenty Year Poem

The Twenty Year Poem

The creative process is so unpredictable.  Some things seem to almost write themselves while others take…well, forever!  I have three, twenty-year poems.  I have literally been working on them that long. I like the concept in each, but have been unable to pull off the execution.  Usually it is only a line or two that I can’t get just right.  I don’t think about these projects that much, but occasionally I’ll pull one of them up and try to work it out.  It’s an epic battle…and, to this point, an epic fail!

One of these is particularly thorny.  Like I said, I like its offbeat concept: A paranoid guy is convinced that as he watches a certain network news anchor, the anchor is watching back through the TV. It starts like this:


Now if I’m watching quiz shows

Or some “soaper” on the tube

I’m often in my skivvies

Looking every bit the rube


But when the Evening News comes on

It’s quite a different scene

My face is cleanly shaven

And my clothes are pressed and clean


My living room is spotless

As I know it has to be

‘Cause as I watch Dan Rather

I know he’s watching me


So, this sets the premise, meter, and rhyme scheme.  The next few stanzas expand upon the theme and work the transition to the final punch line.  The Dan Rather line is repeated every third stanza. I’ve got the punch line nailed, but the transition is a bit wobbly…has been for two decades now.

The thing is…now I have another problem.  In the intervening decades, Dan Rather has retired, morphing from a prominent to obscure reference. No one under forty would know who I was talking about.  At first, it was no problem, because Tom Brokaw was still active and had the requisite three-syllable name.  But, time wore on and Tom retired, leaving me with three unacceptable, four-syllabic news anchors:  Katie Couric, Diane Sawyer, and Brian Williams. That one extra syllable blows up the entire thing.

So, now I have to not only solve the, here-to-fore unsolvable, wobbly transition, but also must wait for one of the networks to hire a three-syllabic news anchor!  My twenty year poem is looking like a thirty year poem. I’m going to beat this thing someday…I swear.

Do any of you have a similar experience,  or do you do the healthy thing and just hit the delete button?

  1. March 3, 2011 at 7:36 PM

    lovely piece..
    well done.

  2. April 9, 2011 at 10:30 AM

    Hi Vb!
    I’m having fun browsing your work…this one is hilarious! I love it! The picture of the guy usually unkempt, getting himself all cleaned up and dusting his house so that Dan Rather doesn’t disapprove of his uncleanliness…I think you should just stick with Dan Rather and include funny Dan Rather quirks in it..gosh, it’s funny!

    • April 9, 2011 at 11:49 AM

      Thanks, for stopping by and reading, Jeanne. I’m glad you find the premise funny…I always have too…that’s why I have stuck with it so long. Don’t think I can stick with Dan, though…too many blank stares from the under 40 crowd. Some day I will solve this. Thanks again,and keep up your own writing…it’s very good. vb

    • April 9, 2011 at 11:52 AM

      Jeanne, thanks for the video…dude is quirky. Vb

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