on top

I wrote this long poem for a contest. I think the title of the piece (it could be a poem, prose, fiction or non-fiction, etc.) had to be “on top” but my memory is bit fuzzy about that part! I would never have written about my experience in this way as poetry is certainly not my normal writing form but every once in a while something comes to me in the form of a poem and I honour its need to be expressed that way.

In 1972 I did what many young people did at that time – I travelled through Europe. I worked in a store for a year and saved enough money and then a friend and I spent four months traipsing through many countries. I am somwhat pyschic and there have been times in my life that some type of “experience” has happened that has sometimes even changed the direction of my life. In those moments there is a certainty about something important. I know the vision I have just had in my head is going to be true even if all reason, and everyone I know, tries to tell me it is not possible. This was one of those moments.



when the trip of my life

birthed the journey for my life

I could never have seen it at the time

blinding flashes often come to us

when we are not thinking about them

when we have gotten out of our own way

when they have time to find us

sleeping in the top bunk at a youth hostel


I should go back to the beginning

believe me when I say neither of us

wants to suffer that entire journey

so I will be brief about my childhood


bored and unintentionally underachieving

a terrible student in school

no doubt about it

unhappy and unloved

feeling unwanted at home

no doubt about that either

unwelcome there but needed too

this left me feeling obligated

suffocated and sad inside

university rescued me from there

as boarding school had done

so many years earlier

there was a difference this time

I started to get good grades

it was a shock to find out I was smart

yet on graduation I was bereft of

inspiration or ambition for my life

it was nothing but a bad dream


with no future mapped out

I still had a plan

a friend and I would travel Europe

sold clothes for $1.56 an hour

in twelve months we were ready


the trip released my soul

I could breathe

finally my person inside burst out

as though it had waited a lifetime

to be heard

it had

there was no one to look after

but myself

my friend and I laughed a lot

I embraced life in a new way

looked forward to every morning


the universe watched as

I trekked through Europe

waiting for that me inside

to completely show up


then suddenly it happened

as it would again in the future

but this one in the top bunk

the most dramatic

I woke up in a sweat

my face and neck moist

with a feeling beyond explanation

I sat bolt upright and I knew

I was going to be a writer

no wish or thought or maybe

I was going to be a writer

I already was a writer


excitement gripped me and I

needed to share it with my friend

of course at 3:00 in the morning

my companion was less than excited


wake up, wake up I said

leaning over from my lofty perch

finally I climbed down

shaking her until she awoke

I told her my news

I know what I’m going to do

with the rest of my life

she thought I had completely

lost my mind

I’m going to be a writer

that’s nice she told me

now go back to sleep


there it was

it was out in the open

I need to be honest here

there was never an inkling

not even the slightest hint 

that this road was open for me

we returned home after four months

it took only five weeks

I began working as a reporter

at a major newspaper

shocking my family but not me

40 years later

my books are across the country

I am nowhere near finished


so there you have it

either I had a revelation in that bunk

or I simply woke up startled from a nightmare

hell I don’t know

there are many amazing days with my writing

I think either way it was the same thing!

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