May 30, 2001: The Countdown Begins… Escape from LA, Part 1

All of this started playing out 16 years ago today – thought I’d bump it back to the top of this blog to rekindle the memories…

Escape from LA
by Roger Darnell

Wednesday, May 30, 2001: The Countdown Begins

As I sat at my desk at the end of the business day (night) on Tuesday, I knew I really needed to get some sleep to be ready to start loading the truck bright and early the next morning; surveying my office, though — still largely intact — it finally also sunk-in to me that I needed to get it packed, once and for all. Fast forward to 7:30 a.m. Wednesday morning: I’d worked all the way through the night, the office was 98% done, the house was a scattered array of semi-packed boxes, furniture and closed boxes, all ready for the truck, and we were off to pick up the truck from Budget in Van Nuys on Sepulveda Blvd., the same place where we’d returned our truck from the 1998 move West. This truck was a little bigger — a sign that the move was a success? — and the car carrier, destined to transport our Honda Accord back across the country, may have been the same one we picked up from New Orleans on the previous trip. Beth had slept very little as well, so the recollection of truck-packing day is a little blurry. We were smart enough to request a couple of movers to come to our house at 9 to load the truck, and by 11, they were done. By 5 p.m., Read more


May 1, 1994: Foolishness

By the time I’d reached age 28, when I wrote this poem, I had come quite a distance in my sense of how I valued other people’s ideas. I had many individuals I respected deeply, but at the same time, an ever-expanding list of those who had given me counsel that I did not trust, believe nor identify with. And based on my growing list of personal achievements, I was coming to a place where I felt I could sort out these differences pretty effectively for myself, and maybe also provide some signposts for others. This is something I’m pretty proud of even now, 19-plus years later.

by Roger Darnell

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August 19, 2012: Hemingway

Roger D. with Alice Wright in 1984Looking back, I can see that – like so many others – as a young student, my education was greatly affected by certain teachers and faculty-members who went out of their way to ensure I learned something valuable during my days at school. When it comes to English classes, as I made my way through four different high schools in three different states, the lessons I received ranged from advanced and accelerated to “never mind!” Luckily, when registering for classes for my senior year of high school, the phenomenal Oak Ridge guidance counselor Carolyn Smith sounded-out my interests and aptitude, and got me signed-up for an AP English class with a lady who elevated my education to levels I never imagined: Mrs. Alice Wright.

Together with Jay Lerew and Ana Fernandez (yes, there were only three of us in that class), I began each day of the 1983-1984 academic year sitting in the front row of seats in Mrs. Wright’s classroom… and I learned a lot. We were tasked with reading a different classic novel (of our own choosing) every two weeks, and we also navigated through “The Norton Introduction to Literature,” learning a great deal more about ourselves and our interests with each passing day. Read more


May 16, 1992: Orlando party for Illinois wedding

On May 23, 1992, Beth and I were married in Greenville, Illinois. Since we were residents of Orlando, Florida, at the time, on May 16, we had a pre-wedding party for our Central Florida friends. Here’s some of the photographic evidence from a very fun get-together that we will never forget. Thanks for the great memories friends!


April 6, 1992: Careful

Beth and Roger in Orlando, 1991.

Thinking back on my life 20 years ago, I have to say that today seems so much simpler. I wrote about that key personal era in “Arc of the Poet Part 6,” and although I think it makes for interesting reading, recalling those days is rather bracing for me. I had so much to prove to myself and the short list of others whose opinions really mattered to me, and although I was confident in my strengths and abilities, I was unsure about so much more. While I had come very far with the gifts provided by my family, as well as those I was earning for myself, the new chapters seemed to hold promises I was almost afraid to hope for. Within weeks of writing the poem below, I began my new role as the husband of Beth Darnell. That dream-come-true continues today, thanks in part to the instincts revealed below which made me realize that the opportunities I was facing were precious and must be handled with care.


by Roger Darnell

There could be a
limerick or something
back there,
something quick and terse —
elucidating, uproarious,

But I just want to say
everything’s going so fast;

you know, not in every way…
but in most,
it really is.

Can’t say much more
than that.
Although I can fit in

and about
thanks, and graciousness,
and pay attentions.
And carefuls.


Arc of the Poet, Part 10: Good Poetry

I may never become famous as a result of a poem I’ve written. I reluctantly accepted that probability some time ago, but only after mounting great, concentrated efforts designed to place my poetry within well respected literary publications… most of which failed.

I’ve always been a sincere fan of my mother Lila Darnell’s direct, powerful and stylized creative writing. Through my high school and college educations, exchanges with many other colorful and smart friends and family members, and lifelong exposure to magazines, radio and cable TV broadcasts, I developed a pretty strong sense for good poetry, and where that odd form of writing fits into the world. In my early 20s, I was introduced to the works of Charles Bukowski, who appeared to me as a 360-degree representation of the life of a successful poet… and who wrote books I loved instantly, due to them being so human, approachable, funny, well written and good. Read more


Arc of the Poet, Part 9: Dear Departures


Note from Tom Tilford, Aug. 13, 1993

In the summer of 1993, I was very proud to be the husband of Beth Darnell, a homeowner in downtown Orlando, and a genuine communications industry professional making some headway as a writer, producer and photojournalist. My campaign efforts pitching my original creative entries into literary publications produced no other significant results, until one day a poem came back with this kind note (click for full-size) attached.

I could have wept. Here’s the poem it was attached to. Read more


Arc of the Poet, Part 4: Spinning Out

From the great poem East Coker written by “American born, English” poet T. S. Eliot:

Home is where one starts from. As we grow older
The world becomes stranger, the pattern more complicated
Of dead and living. Not the intense moment
Isolated, with no before and after,
But a lifetime burning in every moment
And not the lifetime of one man only
But of old stones that cannot be deciphered.

The freedom I enjoyed immediately after earning two bachelors degrees and completing my six-year Air Force Reserve commitment was wonderfully liberating, and my girlfriend Beth and I pressed ahead into our whirlwind adventures. My tiny backyard garage apartment in downtown Orlando became her home, too, over time, as we grew together. Meanwhile, facing our college debts, we both dedicated ourselves to earning paychecks. Read more


Arc of the Poet, Part 3: True Love

Thank you very much for your interest in my education and exploits as a poet over the past 20 years. With Arc of the Poet, I’m aiming to share the most interesting highlights and lowlights as briefly, and as colorfully, as possible.

Even before 1990 had officially begun, I recall feeling anxious for it to be over. It truly was an endurance test for me, involving one marathon ordeal after another. I turned 23 that year, with no fanfare, and I took that as a sign of maturity. I also persevered in seizing my military and college experiences with the best of my thoughts and abilities, which I saw as evidence of my growing strength and confidence. By the time it ended, 1990 gave me a great deal in return for all my efforts. Read more


Arc of the Poet, Part 2: Tour de Force

Between 1978 and 1989, I went from 12 to 23… from wondering about being a man to being one.

I have a short stack of decent poetic writings from those days, and as you’d expect, they are about things like love, friends and life’s big events, positive and otherwise. I moved each year of high school… from Greenville in Illinois my freshmen year (Scott’s sensational senior one), to Chattanooga, Tennessee, then Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. When her second marriage ended, Mom and I moved to Orlando for what was to be my senior year, and her career phase next. With so much moving, a lot of my writing was about what I believe T.S. Eliot called “melancholy.” As my studies continued, Read more

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