8/14/20: People with Toy Problems, and Other Conditions #poetry

President Franklin D. Roosevelt leaves his home at 49 East 6

UNITED STATES – SEPTEMBER 27: President Franklin D. Roosevelt leaves his home at 49 East 65th Street for a short visit to his family estate at Hyde Park, north of New York City. This photograph is unusual in that FDR’s leg braces are clearly visible. (Photo by Martin Mcevilly/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

8/14/20: People with Toy Problems, and Other Conditions #poetry

People with toy problems

Never been sick

Never been out of work

troubles with their careers

and relationships

and finding themselves

not being asked to the prom

not making the glee club

toy problems

I had toy problems when I was much younger

the issues weren’t the objects of my frustration

the issue was me

You’re lucky if you have toy problems

they direct you back to the life that you should be living

the life that you have no say in

the acorn planted in the pit of your soul

that grows into an oak if you let it

and the first half of your life is learning to let it

You manufacture one obstruction after another

and then use Herculean effort to clear your way

only to return to the easiest thing in the world

Some people don’t have the opportunity to have toy problems

They are denied food, air, water and love

They scrape for survival

like wild animals

the strong survive

the weak ones die

The survivors earn the right to dream

but are unable to


fearful or proud

they are distorted

their souls never got a chance to be considered

Men have something more than animals

That something more is indescribable

It is why poetry exists

Poetry points at it

It’s the best that you can do

Dreams are adjacent to it

so is imagination

toy problems are illusory gateways to the truth

if you let them

The luckiest get both conditions

toy problems and the fight to survive

FDR was a bon vivant

a rich kid

a mama’s boy

things came easy to him

he didn’t have to work very hard

He had setbacks in work and love

lost an election and probably a girl or two

toy problems

and then he got polio

ease was replaced by struggle

no one could help him

he either lived or died

it was up to him

He chose living

his toy problem career became a vocation

his personal ambition became


in compassion

he did not only master polio and transcend it

to fulfill his destiny as a person of action

He transcended the suffering of the polio

turned polio into his school

and saw the suffering of the world around him

FDR didn’t sacrifice any of his essential being

He still loved power

and being the center of attention

he was still was a strategist of his destiny

He still had all the personal characteristics that he had in his era of small problems

It was his consciousness of his purpose that had changed

A life well lived sees the foolishness of past preoccupations

and the importance of why they possessed you so

I used to be in awe of the “New Journalists” of the 60’s and 70’s

Especially the flamboyant theatrical ones

Gore Vidal, William F. Buckley, Norman Mailer, Truman Capote

Ken Kesey … to a lesser extent Tom Wolfe and Gay Talese …

their fathers, Dwight MacDonald and James Agee

I was in awe of their writing

and I was thrilled by the ones who went on television

witty, incisive, vulnerable, raw

they were stars in every way

merging their toy problems with the facts

infusing imagination into reality

brazenly taking their rightful positions as co-creators of the world


years later

my awe is replaced by affection

they aren’t as smart as I thought

and they were hardly the gods that I thought they were

they were repetitious

as we all are

I think we are like birds

we have one call

and we sing it

that’s all

Their stardom was a blessing and a curse

it either kept them from their potential

or was where they landed because it was the outer limits of what they were capable of

I’m not sure

They were my fairy tale New York

bright people sharing fascinating ideas and starting love affairs at parties and bars

Woody Allen was gobsmacked by all of this too

Of course its all gone now

that New York

that type of writing

those talk shows

even when those writers were critical of America they were convinced of its enormous potential

The American Dream is a toy problem

FDR was replaced by JFK

feeding everybody and defeating fascism

was replaced by sex with Marilyn Monroe and a trip to the moon

We didn’t want heaven

we wanted the Garden of Eden

and then came the Fall

we’ve worked ourselves back to a place worse than the Great Depression

so that we can start all over again

We have to separate from the unimportant desires

and cope with hard cold reality

saving our endangered species

without losing our magic

placing our joy in service of what has to be done

and each other.



writing literature

cigars and scotch

and defeating Hitler

the congruence of poetry and necessary, practical life

the satisfaction of fulfilling one’s authentic individual destiny

in the bosom of the world

successes and failures

illusions and epiphanies

are not the ultimate things

they are mere tactics

executing the strategic designs of destiny

your destiny

my destiny

our destiny

the destinies of our peoples

and the destiny of the world.

Copyright 2020 Richard Thomas
















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