This entry is part 26 of 37 in the series Bridge to Nowhere: poems at mid-life


Direct link to video on Vimeo.

When I was young, I did have a few ambitions. I remember wanting to be a tree, or to achieve orbital velocity, or even to fall in love — falling was especially attractive. I remember trying to feel full of potential: an odd proposition, like following the map of veins in the back of your hand, or praying to an unresponsive power company. I hadn’t yet learned how to listen to the silent land. Back then, my mania for writing was only kept in check by my mania for crossing things out, like scratch answering to itch. I kept everything: my papers, you’d say, if I were anyone famous. Leaves from a tree that no longer exists.


I filmed a short walk through the woods during a snowstorm yesterday, but in the absense of image stabilization it turned out to be fairly unwatchable except in short segments. So most of this videopoem consists of game cam footage from our neighbors, Troy and Paula Scott. The cameras are motion-triggered and shoot both normal and infrared, 30-second films. The soundtrack incorporates music by DJ Rkod licensed under a Creative Commons Noncommercial Sampling Plus licence, found at, which Peter Stephens turned me onto last month (check out his videopoetry on Vimeo).

The power was out for four hours this morning, forcing me to resort to pen and paper, which now strikes me as a very odd way to write.

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13 Replies to “Ambitions”

    1. Exactly. Though in my case, my handwriting never got that good — despite, paradoxically, an interest in calligraphy that sprang from the need to letter titles for articles in the mimeographed magazine my brothers and I put out.

  1. Liked the videopoetry. A step ahead of ekphrasis. Dave, youth is never really wasted on the young. Eveything that comes to our lives, ferments our lives. Then we do grow old — but wiser, happier, I hope. Then the leaves on those trees are clipped between life’s pages. Not gone. Brown now, part of memories (which life is really all about), and we move on. Gather more leaves, and become in the process our sturdy, old oak tree.

    (You’re keeping your tracks well, assuming the internet doesn’t conk out on all of us bloggers. Famous? All it takes to be one is one grateful reader. (:) Thanks. See you on the Porch.

    1. Thanks for sharing your perspective on aging, Albert, and you’re right — for a writer, the internet in general and self-publishing tools in particular change the whole equation, allowing even relatively unmotivated guys like me to share our stuff with audiences that are both larger and more responsive than anything we could have dreamed of in our youth. Through this series of poems at mid-life, I’ve been trying to convey my bemusement at aging and sense of wonder at the passage of time. Twain was spot-on with that quip about youth being wasted on the young — I think back to how fervent I was in my 20s about things I barely understood, for example. But I don’t regret anything, and I certainly wouldn’t want to live it over. I am amazed by some of the young people I see who seem to have life all figured out. Good for them, I say, with a mixture of cynicism and genuine admiration.

  2. I just can’t get over being pleased at the serendipitous fit of image-rhythm to music in this video! I bring this up because I think that the ability to recognize happy accidents, and even to plan for them to some extent, almost requires a relinquishing of personal ambitions for a particular project.

    1. Wow, I assumed you’d edited to the music since it fits so well. Those happy accidents are wonderful, aren’t they.

      I really liked this. I read it yesterday and then came back to watch it today. Really good stuff.

      Reading through the comments, I saw where you mentioned something about catching bemusement/wonder of aging and time. That’s something that really connects with me, which is why I’ve enjoyed this series so much.

      1. Thanks, James — I’m glad that hit home with you. Sometimes (well, a lot of the time, to be honest) I feel like a bit of a simpleton, unable to get over being astonished at something so basic as the passing of time.

    2. In these, my early (I hope) days of video poetry, I find that the image-rhythm fit you refer to happens way more often than it should. I have no idea why.

      I really like how you read this poem. You seem to be getting better at it. Your recent Woodrat podcast with Nic S. really got me thinking about the importance of voice (sigh . . . physical voice) in poetry. (It’s funny that the “find your voice” mantra of the 1960’s workshop coincided with the reemphasis of the oral aspect of poetry.)

      And this is one of the best video poems I’ve ever seen. The music is a great choice.

      And thanks so much for the plug.

  3. Thanks for sharing your blog to us, Sir Dave. I found this while reading Sir Albert’s post. Also read Ma’am Luisa’s comment’s.

    I will try to visit your porch from time to time, it’s a nice place to stay.

    I will try to weave some small poems from it, too. I will try.

    But the donkey video, or was that a reindeer? I find it scary.

    But the snow, how I have always wished to touch it

    Like your snow newspapers

    Like a cold, but peaceful day

    There’s something in it, that I couldn’t say

    Maybe, I don’t know yet.

    Thank you, Sir. It’s evening here. Maybe I’d be alone in the porch. LOL.

    1. That’s a white-tailed deer. I’m a little frightened of them too, because despite the best efforts of our hunter friends, there are just too many of them — they are eating the future forest. (There used to be cougars here that kept them in check, but people shot them all out 100 years ago.)

      Thanks for commenting, and for reading. You’re welcome to leave poem-responses in the comments at The Morning Porch — the more, the merrrier! But please don’t call me Sir. I hate that.

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