Copyright 2003


From about the time of high school or so, I've been repeatedly urged by a wide variety of people to somehow explore more deeply my writing proclivity. During my senior year a notorious cynic and renowned teacher at Hollywood High, Harry Major, quipped that I should learn to develop more substance and less fluff in my writing.
We've remained good friends for the nearly 50 years since that advice.
My mother and father both prodded me from the early 1980's to publish my poems. My father, in fact, had commissioned me to write a biography of his life around 1981, and upon seeing the first 100 pages exclaimed, "This makes Mommy Dearest look like a tribute!" That terminated the biography work.
I'm still working on a book about him, me, our family, and growing up in show biz entitled "Under Niagara."

I first penned a poem about December 1979 for an intense and energetic girl friend, Barbara Reade. From 1979-1985 I spent several months at a time on the road with my father doing concerts across the US, Central and South America, and Japan. I even took along a large IBM Selectric II typewriter in a special carrying case I built in order to be able to write during the concerts while manning the record table in the lobbies.
Needless to say, a great many poems during those time had to do with fleeting relationships with women, the futility of those endeavors, and the general malaise of life. It seems that trouble, pain, sadness, etc. seem more of a motivator for expression (read: relief) than overwhelming joy and happiness. Perhaps that's because when we're happy, we're BUSY, engrossed, and not thinking of an excuse and some way to relieve the feeling.
I was able to displace quite a bit of the women-malaise with construction-malaise from 1985 on.
The relationship void, the endless striving for acceptance, love, relationship, sexual gratification, money, security, etc. all provided ample inspiration for continued poeting.
It is very interesting for ME to look back and see the repeating theme of being misunderstood, a victim, trying so hard to achieve and succeed, etc. It is NOT comfortable to see this, but it is illuminating, hopefully more so than just ruminating (sorry, I'm a poetolic, remember?).
In the latter 80's and into the 90's my relationship with my father provided a deep well of poeting possibilities. My poems were one of the high points for his appreciation of me. We struggled through very tough times, egos, confusion, hurt, socioeconomic limitations (even the rich and famous are hampered), and decades of familial adaptation to get to a point of loving and appreciating each other. It never was perfect, and never could be. But it was definitely as good as it could get when I hugged him for the last time in early September 1992 and we both cried, just 2 days before he left for Europe, where he died 10 days later.
I read some poems about him during the funeral. It was then that I realized just how powerful and accurate some of my writings were.

Every writer has some uniqueness in style. Mine is that I'm able to convey exact facts and nuances of events, and do it both in a rhyming way, often humorously, and nearly instantly.
For the most part I don't ponder, fret, and rework my poems. They erupt in a flash through my fingers, and with very few exceptions they're done when I stop typing. I HATE handwriting, but enjoy typing. My lamentable penmanship (or lack of it) is offset by my ability to type quickly. However, I did graduate from Physicians Handwriting School "Summa Cum Illegibility".

Anyway, I've organized these over 1000 poems according to subject matter. If you're in the mood to reflect on LIFE IS TOUGH, there are 58 poems to give you some additional insight. If you're in the mood for OPTIMISM, there are 6 or so to bolster your spirits.
I sincerely hope that these writings will somehow be of assistance to you, get you to laugh now and then, give you some cause for reflection, bring a few tears, appreciate love, and best of all perhaps enable you to make an improvement somewhere in your life.

       Dick Wagner