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"The Future in a High School Intern," lyric poetry in a Tuesday Workshop for writers and teachers

Updated on July 21, 2014

Tuesday Workshop: Unexpected occasions for writing poetry

1. Here I am this week visiting with friends in the small mountain towns of northwestern North Carolina.

2. Stimuli for new poetry come from unexpected sources.

3. Appreciatively touring off the Blue Ridge Parkway into the little town of West Jefferson (pop. in the range of 2,700), I spotted the Visitor Center of the Chamber of Commerce of Ashe County (pop. in the range of 27,000).

4. Inside I found two delightful people, a most competent coordinator and a High School Intern (with the Executive Director visible through a glass window but busily engaged in other matters, and soon forced to leave the building for important business elsewhere).

5. Now I won't name these people here, but the friends with whom I am staying in the area, as is the case with most observers of Max Havlick, seem to take great delight in my open willingness to make friends with virtually everyone I encounter, but especially when it involves members of the opposite sex.

6. Reports of my simplest, nicest get-acquainted conversations seem for many people to carry the connotation of romantic flirting, as in my honest admiration for the Visitor Center Coordinator.

7. As an aside, I remember Kristen (administrator at the St. Paul Lutheran Church in Villa Park where I sometimes visit) once told me on a visit to her office (May 2011), "You only write poems to women!"

8. To which, at that moment, I could not think fast enough for a sharp reply, except to feebly try to deny it, and then admit it was at least partly true.

9. But what I wish I had said was something like this, "What do you think the best poets of the past wrote about? What do you think grown men today should write about -- the trees in their yard, the demolition of old buildings, political high-jinks, new advice in nutrition?"

10. Oh well, it's easy to be smart long after the fact. Right?! Is anyone with me out there?!

11. A small part of a busy day, finding two nice people doing a good job at the tough task of handling all manner of out-of-town visitors, but I had not the slightest thought of writing poetry about them or anything connected with them.

12. However, my friends went to bed early, in the range of 8 p.m., which is about the time back home in Chicago suburbs I usually just get started, but it's dark in the NC mountains, and quiet, so I also went to bed in the wonderful room they provided me, and slept very well.

13. When I awoke at 2 a.m., my mind drifted surprisingly to the young high school intern, so different in so many ways from all the other people I had met during the day, and also different from the coordinator who was her supervisor, who could well have been her mother, but clearly wasn't.

14. This girl exemplified the best young people we have in our country, and clearly the best hope our country has for a good future. In any case, people like her are the future!

15. A few lines of poetry formed in the dark, which I could remember until morning, but then a few more ideas in a format that even I could not honestly call an experimental American sonnet, so I turned on the light and wrote down what I could -- just ideas really, but a couple of good lines, I thought, and turned out the light and went back to sleep.

16. During the day, I realized maybe I could not, or should not, or would not be able to give the poem to the young lady involved, so "What am I going to do with this? File it in my record of such things (the easy road), or work on it a while and create something perhaps memorable, but at least interesting to me if to no one else?"

17. Later, about 5 p.m., I found every word of it to be absolutely true, as best I could see it and write it at the moment, so truly representative of all good high-school youngsters everywhere, it would be irresponsible of me not to respect the inspiration and little talent I've been given, so I finished the poem.

18. I hope you like it. Please comment.

The Future in a High School Intern

In Angela now

inside her life now,

inside her head now,

inside her heart now,

inside her soul now,

inside her strength now,

new worlds are swarming,

new worlds are forming,

new worlds reforming,

new worlds performing,

new worlds a-borning;

a gift of Nature,

a special creature,

a subtle picture,

fresh architecture,

renewed adventure,

she is the future.


Max Havlick in the North Carolina mountains
on Tuesday, September 17, 2013,
2:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.


Copyright (c) 2013 by The Max Havlick School, 16 W. Vermont St., Villa Park, IL 60181-1938, all rights reserved for the benefit of the person for whom the poetry was written. We consider language skills a basic key to life, so we feature English language, literature, and spirituality for any serious adult desiring deeper skills of a productive, creative life: reading, writing, vocabulary at HS or college levels, surveys and detailed studies in great literature. We value each person's life as a priceless work of art.


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    • Max Havlick profile image

      Max Havlick 4 years ago from Villa Park, Illinois

      Thank you, Martin, for reading and commenting with encouragement.

      Best wishes.

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Very interesting. thank you

    • Max Havlick profile image

      Max Havlick 4 years ago from Villa Park, Illinois

      Thanks, Kim, for your extended thoughtful comment.

      Older people, no doubt from the dawn of human life, have always found it easy to question the ability of high-school-age youngsters to understand correctly what is going on, and many times, perhaps, for good reason.

      But young people today have more of the world at their fingertips than anyone else, and that world now everyday changes so rapidly and profoundly in so many non-obvious ways, that I consider it downright dangerous if we do not straightforwardly honor and challenge toward goodness and creativity the very best young people we can find.

      As for the specific case in question, I have had much experience ascertaining the relative abilities of people to comprehend complex ideas, and I consider it extremely unlikely that this young lady preparing herself for medical school will find anything here particularly uncomfortable, and I think it much more likely she will find it empowering and thought provoking.

      If necessary, as an intern, she has a first-rate supervisor near at hand to help make sure she understands the impersonal nature of the poem's positive message.

      Like Joseph Bathanti said this morning at the Ashe County Public Library about using the real name "Luther" in one of his poems, the name "Angela" was just too lyrical a name for me to hide, and indeed, it may have been one reason she came to my mind as the basis for such a poem in the first place.


      Wed., Sept. 18, 2013, 10:30 p.m.

    • profile image

      ocfireflies 4 years ago


      How refreshing to see someone else besides myself notice the one that

      was different from all the rest. On the one hand, I would think what a nice gesture to deliver this poem to this teenager in person (Your host and hostess seem like the kind of people who would drive you there.), but then there is a danger inherent in our culture regarding relationships. There are so many people out there and as many or more perceptions among the members of any culture. While the most reasonable response would be a "Thank You" from the teenage recipient of your beautiful poetry, and perhaps even a new friend. The teenager could, however, not know how to respond. My guess she is not accustomed to elderly gentlemen writing her such evocative poetry which could make her uncomfortable. It is difficult to know what it the best option in this situation. I am sure though one as wise as you can make the right decision.

      As for the poem: beautiful and indicative of one who is reaching outside of his creating writing abilities and feeling more comfortable to experiment with different poetic forms. Vote Up/Share

      Best to you,