Sep. 24, 2012: Granny’s Little Creek

Granny’s Little Creek
by Roger Darnell

Once, we had no sense of the free-flowing excitement,
the raw and sometimes bone-chilling coolness of the water
as it flowed there, just behind Grandpa’s Smokehouse.
Often less than a trickle, that creek was a haven of life to us kids. Read more


May 27, 2014: Lucky fool

I tend to think it takes some heartache or despair to inspire me to write a poem… the way I did so many times in the past. Tonight I just put myself here, turned off the music, and let the words find me. Here they are, right off the top of my head, making me think, maybe it’s not all that complicated.

You Lucky Fool
by Roger Darnell Read more


March 26, 1988: Grandpa’s Gold

Today I went looking through my writing archives to find something written on or near this date in the past, and I found a poem written about 24 years and a week ago. It’s not particularly great nor too profound, but it does connect me with an important moment going even further back, to a golden day spent with my grandfather, Urban Lee Ridings. The day was sunny and warm, I remember, and I must have been somewhere around five or so. Grandpa instructed me to go and shake his money tree, and I could still walk you right to the very spot where the young sappling had stood at that time. As I shook, the sound of metal rained around me faintly, and pops occurred in the dirt and grass. Exploring them with my fingers, on my hands and knees, I found coins, and looking up into the dazzling sunlight there was Grandpa’s face beaming, too. We kids really knew he loved us, due to special moments like that one, which I will never forget.

Grandpa’s Gold

by Roger Darnell Read more


Nov. 21, 1998: Character

In November of 1998, Beth and I were living in our Barrington Way townhome in Glendale, California, which hosted us and our cats nicely enough through a very exciting and challenging time. Going back to Arc of the Poet, that was our critical California move in the so-called “Fame and Fortune” era. While I was extremely thankful at that time to have landed on the staff of Crest National in Hollywood, my film industry dreams were still very personal, and I pressed on to the best of my abilities on every front. Externally, I continued to “swing for the fence” by submitting my best writing up to that point to places like the Guggenheim Foundation, to competitions, literary agents and contacts I thought might take an interest in the projects or the talent behind them. Internally, even at that time which is now almost 15 years in the past, I had identified a “next level” goal: writing a novel. Maybe if I had won that 1999-2000 Guggenheim Fellowship I applied for in late 1998, I would have made more progress.

Today, that objective remains very high on my list, and my nine-year-old son Riley is just one of the writers in my life who is showing me how it’s done. Through his fourth grade class, he is participating in National Novel Writing Month. He took off at the beginning of November and has been piling on the words.

Another real inspiration for me is my father-in-law Bill Martin. His sixth book has just gone off to the publisher – so the first paperback edition of “Rio Pecos Compound” is just a few weeks away. The adventures continue on the “Tales of Mason” website: http://williamfmartin.com

With all of my writing experience, when I look at long-form fiction writing, my vision splinters into a great number of facets. I feel the responsibilities as designer, architect, resident artist, builder and storyteller, for starters. And as these pieces are organized, then comes the time to put them into action. In the past, I have been able to move characters forward within some pretty interesting narratives; solid choice of subject matter is imperative. That is where I have found myself many times over the years, ready and willing but needing to write the right thing.

I have a guess that when the alignment occurs, it becomes sort of sublime. Below is a poem I wrote on 11/21/98. Amid all the outward amplification of myself happening at that time, inside I knew I had to write engagingly and thoughtfully. So many words can go into something – each must hook, tantalize, convey and deliver along the way toward somewhere worth going, for some reason. I usually wonder this: What’s the reason?

by Roger Darnell Read more


Oct. 13, 2013: The Perfect Record

The Perfect Record
by Roger Darnell

The most elegant and seemingly effortless leader rests now,
in a state far beyond anything we followers ever imagined.
Without giving it a thought, it has always seemed certain
that this presence would endure, and rise to protect us

in any time when life had worn us down. Strength appears
in many forms, but I have seen the supreme rendition within
the warmest, readiest, deep-hearted contentedness that is so
profound, it has made stability, security, light and goodness.

Of course, at its best, this is what nature has required to
support life: The essential caring foundation of motherhood.
The loving leadership appears in every act of nurturing
between a life-giver and a life-receiver, and eventually,

the receivers can come to stand alone, where the cycle
can spin on and on, adding waves of leaders from those
powerful seeds of love and care. What a challenge we face,
knowing how far we’ve come and by what miracles,

when we look for that strength and it turns up missing,
or even when it is evidently absorbed in struggles we can
hardly comprehend, deflect, postpone, mitigate or vanquish.
In so many ways, to us, our leader has built a perfect record.

In our heart of hearts, our fear and sadness gravitate to
places so low, drowning seems inevitable: How to carry on?
With that vital record woven into our very blood vessels,
our hearts beat on, filling the fabric so expertly sewn.

(Copyright 2013 Roger Darnell, All Rights Reserved.)


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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Dec. 15, 2012: Talented

Proud moment here: Amelia’s original poem has been published in the 2012 poetry collection “Talented” from the America Library of Poetry. She is letting me publish it here, too. Enjoy! Read more


May 4, 1992: Twenty-Five and Going

I wrote this poem just a little over twenty years ago… a day before my 26th birthday, and a few weeks before Beth and I were married in Greenville, Illinois. It’s quite amusing to me that I mentioned feeling like I was 46, as that’s the age I am now; for the record, it feels very different than I guessed it would at that time. The good news is, it’s even better than I expected.

Twenty-Five and Going

by Roger Darnell

I’ve put off the great Chinese thinkers
for another year, at least.
Taken up being a fiancee.

Read a lot of Bukowski. That was a good idea.
Feel like I’m forty-six, only

My poetry stacked up… sort of thin.
The 25-year-old poet was buried.

But so was the 24-year-old. So what?
The word years is losing significance.
On an abacus it would mean beads.
On my awakeness, it means

Memories, feelings, fears, understandings.

My mom gave me some of her work. A lot of it.
I think that means something. Praised me —
in a letter, not the poetry — as being a good man.

Now that’s something. I don’t care who you are —
that’s something. I’m getting married. Think it’ll be
something, also. Proud. I’d admit it.

And going! Going now, as the pen pauses…


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.


January 25, 1988: Alexander Salamander

May_2004When I wrote the following poem nearly 24 years ago, I had never even seen a salamander. Still, it instantly became one of my favorites, so you can imagine how excited I was to discover salamanders in our back yard when we moved to North Carolina back in 2001. Both Amelia and Riley have grown up catching and loving them, too. Enjoy!

Alexander Salamander

by Roger Darnell

sal•a•man•der n. a mythological reptile resembling the lizard, that was said to live in fire.

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