Hello Poets and Poetry Lovers, welcome back to Poetry Corner! As we head into Summer and the sunshine of June, I’m pointing this month’s spotlight on a local poet who was one of the biggest supporters of poetry in Auburn. I unfortunately have to say “was”, as he passed away May 18th.
Gerald McBreen was born February 7th 1936 in Omaha Nebraska. He attended Omaha Technical High School, moved to California and worked for a time as a refrigerator repairman. He used to recount the number of times he would arrive at his location only to discover that the refrigerator was unplugged.
Gerald retired from the U.S. Postal Service as a letter carrier, an unexpected career as he first signed on to do temp work over the holidays. He started in California, but the bulk of his time at the Post Office was spent in Aubrn Washington.
He loved to sing and to write. Gerald was an activist in the divorced fathers’ movement in the 1970’s and was always a supporter of war veterans. He found poetry later in life and was awarded the Poet Laureateship of the City of Pacific in 2009. At one point he held three Poet Laureateships, The City of Pacific, Auburn Morning Toastmasters, and in 2012 he won the Amy Kitchener’s Angels Without Wings Contest and was awarded the title of Senior Poet Laureate of Washington State. In 2006 Gerald took the coordinator position of Auburn’s Striped Water Poets, a poetry critique group. He volunteered in community arts events such as Uniquely Auburn and the Auburn Days festival (now August Fest.)
Gerald was a collector of jokes and was always ready for a good laugh. But his favorite topic to write about was always romance.
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EVOLUTION of ONE MAN’S LIFE
Life was a carefree game in Eden’s illusion
when he believed in things that couldn’t be:
Fish ladies, leprechauns, “Open Sesame!”
the Bible says it’s so.
How much better he was in that cocoon
before fluttering away.
He looks back on the many lives he’s lived:
Coming of age under a mushroom cloud,
before the sexual revolution, when virginity
was a treasure. Two wives, too few lovers.
A combination of his many faces contort into
the mask he wears now.
As age shadows his past he finds life is full
of should-have-beens, and unanswered
He confesses there are times he’d like
to recapture the innocence of newness.
Relive the life of lies he never should have
We don’t bring anything new
except each other
The sun sneaks behind
Her hands slide up my back
until her arms circle my neck
My fingers reach down
into the back pockets
of her jeans
Pressing hard I pull her firmly against me
Standing in a body hug
anticipating the nights pleasure
I imagine myself falling in love again
Tomorrow’s on hold
Is the world
WHEN IT RAINS ON THE MAILMAN
When it rains on the mailman
it’s quite a sight to see.
I saw one shrivel up so bad
he almost disappeared.
He took refuge on a paper boat
made of letters I suppose.
The last time I saw him
he was sailing toward the sea
just as happy as could be.
When it rains on the mailman
it creates a real show.
Some will swell and swell and swell
to great big giant size.
The one I saw had a twinkle
a twinkle in his eyes.
He walked into the woods leaving
big foot footprints in his stride.
Now he’s a legend seen only by a few.
I was one of the lucky ones
I hope you too will see him soon.
Some mailmen like to see the rain.
They say it’s just the thing
to keep your dog inside
or make him run and hide.
Either way the mailman
can safely walk his rounds.
The only problem is your letters
will be delivered kind of limp like noodles in a soup.
MY DATE WITH GOD
I made a date with God.
Bypassing Smith and Jesus.
He said He’d meet me on the lake.
I didn’t take Him literally.
Because there he was walking on water.
When I complained he reached out a hand.
It was like walking on wet cement
after you’ve saturated the lawn.
You had to be careful not to slip.
I told Him,
I thought Jesus had a lock on this trick.
Who do you think taught Him?
We reached shore and joined His bearded Son
and twelve ruddy faced gents trailing Him up a hill.
They were in a joyous mood.
Laughing and back slapping and throwing pebbles
at each other.
One pointed to Jesus and said,
Notice, ever since the wedding
He carries His own water bag.
This elicited a series of guffaws.
The Big Man said,
I taught Him that trick for his mother’s sake.
Then added a little thoughtfully,
I hope it doesn’t cause a Lucifer problem.
We held back as the thirteen went on up the hill.
I wondered about this Almighty God who was
also a father, just like any other dad, worrying
about the possibility His Son might abuse
Might step out of line.
I made a date with God to tell him what a
mess He made of my life, and ask Him
why I should have all these problems.
What I found was Mr. Almighty had his own
problems and they were huge.
A universe needing constant attention.
Not all of it as predictable as the earth, moon
Take a simple thing like switching off a light.
It could travel millions of miles before it dims out.
The caretaker of existence has plenty to do.
Maybe, all things relative, I can make a stronger
effort to manage my own life and stop praying
on a guy who already has His hands full.
I heard someone call Him.
He may be Almighty and all that
but, when Mary calls He’s like any other
husband and rushes off to keep her happy.
Before He left he said He’d see me when I
That’s a plus.
He expects me to return.
Thank you Gerald for always supporting poetry in Auburn, always bringing your smile and chuckle, and always enjoying each moment. You will be missed, and I do hope you’ve returned, walking with the Almighty, with a beautiful lass by your side.
James Rodgers is Auburn’s current Poet Laureate. He is a prolific poet living in Pacific, WA for more than two decades, and has been in the Pacific Northwest his entire life. While James prefers humor, he writes all kinds of poetry, having been published in multiple publications. He also has three self-published chapbooks. James is a very talented and respected poet with a long-time commitment to Auburn’s literary arts community and we’re thrilled to have his contributions to the Auburn Examiner.