The Long Surrender

And then came the long surrender...
B.H. Fairchild, "Rave On"

The larger church an hour away came courting
and my father accepted the call.
Whether it was his will or God's,
the son had no choice but to follow.
It was the first exodus of my memory;
a confused goodbye to yellow roses and 
the den where we heard Elvis is dead and
a trinity of Methodist boys named Jimmy and Steven and Billy Mark
and of course, her.

We were voted king and queen of the Valentine banquet one year,
a coronation that told an east Texas town we're a couple.
Her schoolteacher parents arrived early each morning,
while I rode the bus arriving just on time.
She was always there waiting for me, always.
To say it wasn't love is a grown-up lie.

Her mother organized a going away party for me.
School kids pooled money for a photo album - "in remembrance of us."
Jimmy gave the Baptist preacher's son his first St. Christopher.
She gave me a gold Speidel bracelet that read John,
and violent sixth-grade tears.
Please don't go cried the queen.
As a king of twelve, I had visions of marrying Lori.
But where there is no vision, the fox can spoil the queen.
I went back, years later, and asked about her.
Well, that basketball coach, you knew him, he stole her heart.
He was forty years old and married with kids; 
poor little girl was just fifteen.  My lord.
I was a man by then, old enough to question 
both the will of God and my father.
I drove to the park where royalty used to swing, and cried.


  1. I know a bit about those 6th grade tears, as well as 7th grade, 9th grade and 1st grade. And the sixth grade ones were the worst.

  2. oh my goodness...I had to read this about 10 times before commenting.

    I was picturing, imagining and creating the scene in my mind. I was remembering myself at that time and felt such a deep ache for John and Lori.

    I didn't want the poem to end. I was hoping it was going to turn into a novel...that you would've gone back and saw that she was safe and happy.

    Very moving, John.

  3. Tiffani is right; this was very moving.

    I wasn't sure if this was a piece of your own life or a fictional piece you were beginning.

  4. Comforting to know that guys feel the angst, too.

    I was going to write that in some ways you're like a girl, except not. i think it's the tenderness.

    That's what it is. The eye and ear and heart for the tender.

  5. Janna,

    Hard to classify the tears, but I agree with you; sixth grade cuts were the deepest.

    Thanks for your comment,

  6. Tiffani,

    I don't even think my mother reads my stuff ten times...mercy, thank you!


  7. Shanda,

    Lori was my very first girlfriend; sadly, the poem's all true.

    Thanks for your words,

  8. Gretchen,

    First of all, you made me grin; then I was grateful. Tender is important to me...


  9. That makes it all the more moving...