Jul. 18, 2002

No Longer A Teenager

by Gerald Locklin

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Poem: "No Longer A Teenager," by Gerald Locklin from The Life Force Poems (Water Row Press).

No Longer A Teenager

my daughter, who turns twenty tomorrow,
has become truly independent.
she doesn't need her father to help her
deal with the bureaucracies of schools,
hmo's, insurance, the dmv.
she is quite capable of handling
landlords, bosses, and auto repair shops.
also boyfriends and roommates.
and her mother.

frankly it's been a big relief.
the teenage years were often stressful.
sometimes, though, i feel a little useless.

but when she drove down from northern California
to visit us for a couple of days,
she came through the door with the

biggest, warmest hug in the world for me.
and when we all went out for lunch,
she said, affecting a little girl's voice,
"i'm going to sit next to my daddy,"
and she did, and slid over close to me
so i could put my arm around her shoulder
until the food arrived.

i've been keeping busy since she's been gone,
mainly with my teaching and writing,
a little travel connected with both,
but i realized now how long it had been
since i had felt deep emotion.

when she left i said, simply,
"i love you,"
and she replied, quietly,
"i love you too."
you know it isn't always easy for
a twenty-year-old to say that;
it isn't always easy for a father.

literature and opera are full of
characters who die for love:
i stay alive for her.

It's the birthday of journalist and writer Hunter S(tockton) Thompson, born in Louisville, Kentucky (1939). Thompson's first exposure to journalism came while he was in the United States Air Force, covering sports for an Army newspaper. After his discharge, he held jobs on a number of small town newspapers, and on a bowling magazine in Puerto Rico. In 1965, he spent a year traveling with the Hell's Angels motorcycle gangs, and wrote of his adventures in Hell's Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga (1966). This began Thompson's style of being an outside observer, while at the same time becoming an integral part of the story himself. This same technique was used in his second, and best-known book, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream (1972; filmed 1998). Once asked why he was a journalist, Thompson replied, "I would not be anything else, if for no other reason than I'd rather drink with journalists. Another reason I got into journalism, you don't have to get up in the morning."

It's the birthday of poet Yevgeny Aleksandrovich Yevtushenko, born in Zima, Russia (1933). He gained international fame in 1961, when he published his poem Babi Yar (1961), which denounced the Nazi massacre of thirty-four thousand Ukrainian Jews in World War Two, but was also a veiled attack on current Russian anti-Semitism. When Communism collapsed, Yevtushenko was instrumental in getting a monument to the victims of Stalinist repression placed opposite Lubianka, headquarters of the KGB.

It's the birthday of political activist and leader Nelson Mandela, born in Umtata, Cape of Good Hope, South Africa (1918), whose father was chief of the Tembu tribe. Rejecting his hereditary right to follow in his father's footsteps, Mandela decided to study law instead. He attended college, but was expelled after two years for participating in a student strike. He continued his studies by correspondence, and got his law degree in 1942. Two years later, he joined the African National Congress, a civil rights movement fighting against South Africa's apartheid policies. In 1961, all opposition movements, including the ANC, were banned, and Mandela became a fugitive from the law. He spent eighteen months disguised as a laborer, a janitor, and a garage worker, but was finally arrested in 1962 and sentenced to five years in prison. The following year, police invaded ANC headquarters, where they discovered large quantities of arms and ammunition. Mandela was subsequently sentenced to life in prison. After twenty-eight years, President F.W. de Klerk released Mandela from prison. In 1993, Mandela and de Klerk received the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to end apartheid and to bring about democratic rule in South Africa. Mandela was elected president of that country in 1994, where he served until 1999.

It's the birthday of playwright Clifford Odets, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1906). Odets left school at the age of fifteen to go into radio, and found work as an announcer, actor, and writer. He's best known for his plays Waiting for Lefty, and Golden Boy.

It's the birthday of writer William Makepeace Thackeray, born in Calcutta, India (1811). He's the author of Vanity Fair.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




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