Sherry: Robert, it has been a long time since we visited, back in 2013, when you were writing at Wrapped in Solitude. As we have many new members since then, and you have been away for a while, let’s reintroduce you to the good folks at Poets United. Would you tell us a bit about yourself and your life? Are you still in Smugglers Cove? I recall you were a long haul truck driver during your working life, till you retired. How is your family doing?
Robert: Still retired… :) although I did dabble in some bus driving a time or two. I have shuttered Smugglers Cove for the time being. My Father passed away leaving my Mom on her own. She is 91 and not in good health, so I picked up sticks and moved into civilization to help her out. I still venture up to the old homestead on a regular basis when I can.
We live in Richmond Hill, north of Toronto. It used to be a nice, quiet place, but has been swallowed up. Big Box stores, condos and traffic now.
Sherry: I am sorry about your father, Robert. What a good son you are, helping your mother through this time of her life.
You have been away from blogging for a time. Were you writing during that time?
Robert: I stopped blogging because the internet service up North was very hit and miss, which was frustrating. I went back to pen and paper, putting in a concerted effort to finish my second novel which has sunk into the quicksand of the publishing world.
The one thing about being down at my Mom’s is that internet service is quite abundant, so I started blogging again.
Sherry: We're so happy you are back! And way to go, getting that novel finished and submitted! A major accomplishment.
When did you begin writing, Robert? What do you love about it / why do you write?
Robert:I have been writing since childhood. I just find the feeling of expressing yourself soothes the soul, so to speak.
Sherry: That it does. Do you still have some stories you want to get written?
Robert: Definitely. Two novels down, and one fermenting in the background… :)
Sherry: Is there a story from your life as a truck driver? Did the poems and stories come to you as the long miles disappeared under your wheels? I can’t imagine driving in Canadian winter conditions!
Robert: A lot of what I write comes from the road. I have over 3 million miles traveling, so there are quite few stories that go along with that. Even now I still get the itch to venture off somewhere.
Sherry: I imagine you do! Would you like to share three of your poems, and tell us a bit about each one?
Squeaky wood floor
Booths with faded color
Table tops marked by generations
Hum of voices
Clatter of cutlery
Mixed with heady smells
Of breakfast cooking
In a chipped old mug
Daily ritual in play
Robert: This poem comes from all the time I spent in truckstops and diners over the years.
Sherry: I can imagine how welcome that coffee must be, on a long haul. And pie, right?
The Wandering Vagabond
Once a man of youth
Now a man of age
His path through life
A twisting road
Through the lives of many
Some saw him pass
Others barely noticed
More than a time or two
Standing in the shadows
All the while
Until the empty feeling sang
Pushing him onward
Along the trail
Once lingering extra long
Held by the ache
That filled his heart
Until he realized
It would never be
And he let that song sing once again
A wandering vagabond
He would always be
Robert: This poem is basically my life on the road.
Sherry: I can feel the loss of that one time you lingered a while. Me, too.
We both sat on lonely islands
In the middle of crowded classrooms
Along bustling hallways
As the swirling currents
Of social interaction
By passed with a nudge and whispers
Our only solace
Those moments in the maple grove
Behind the football field
Where we shared the pain
Bonded by a thread we shared
As my eyes watched
Her curly red hair wave in the breeze
Her freckles crinkle as she smiled
Emotions played like a movie
In her blue eyes
Together we got through
Those turbulent times
Until next semester
When she never returned
Robert: This poem brought back memories of school days and all the mental turmoil you have as a teenager.
Sherry: I remember! When the heartbreak feels as if it will be forever. Never dreaming there would be more to come. Smiles. Thank you for these, Robert.
What do you like to do these days when you’re not writing?
Robert: My best friend has got me hooked on golf which I am stubbornly passionate about. I had never played until I retired and now it is an obsession for which I firmly place the blame at her feet :).
Richmond Hill Golf Course
Other than any golf course close by, I spend a lot of time up in Tottenham at the South Simcoe Railway, as a volunteer, working on the rail cars at the moment.
Sherry: That sounds interesting, Robert. I love trains! Are they a passion of yours? What do you do, as a volunteer?
Robert: They all need service and touch-ups from wear and tear. I have been fascinated by trains since I was a kid. I remember dashing out the door in the morning, so I could see the morning C.N. freight train go by before school.
Sherry: I loved riding trains in my childhood, when such things were affordable. When I lived in Port Alberni, we had an old steam train from days gone by, refurbished, which takes tourists on rides through spring and summer. I LOVED hearing its whistle as it plied back and forth from town to the old mill.
I so enjoyed your poem about trains, and would love to include it here, if I may.
SCREAM OF JOY
A gem revived from yesteryear
It sat upon iron rails
Majestic steam billowed forth
As the scream of joy
Tore through my soul
A chance discovery
Opening a dam
of childhood memories
As it stood
Before my eyes
With haste I strode
Ticket in hand
As the conductor bellowed
Ticket punched, up the stairs
I lightly sprang
Settling on a wooden bench with anticipation
For what would transpire
That lovely sound
Of the whistle
Set many things in motion
The train with a "chug chug chug"
And my mind
Down memory lane
As we bumped through
Green country scenes
In a cloud of steam and cinders
All with sooty smiles
Sherry: Oh, how this takes me back to those wonderful train rides of childhood, the comforting clickety-clack underneath, taking me to my grandma's house every summer. Thank you, Robert, for this visit, and for sharing your very relatable poems, and your love of golf and trains. It has been such a pleasure! Give our best wishes to your mom!
I don't know about you, my friends, but this visit leaves me yearning for a train ride. Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!
Loved all the poems! Especially the train one , it is just special. And the ending of 2 outcasts was all too real.ReplyDelete
Robert and Sherry, I really enjoyed this update. Indeed I remember the old days when you, Robert, were a long distance trucker...what adventures you had. And now you are golfing and working on trains. Pretty nice retirement, I think. I like "The Diner." I am sure you saw a lot of them back in the day! You write with a familiarity. I like "The Wandering Vagabond." You do know yourself. Smiles. "Two Outcasts" definitely characterizes the adolescent angst. Robert, glad that you have returned to PU. Sherry - nice feature!ReplyDelete
Thank you, Sherry, for the opportunity to get to know Robert better!ReplyDelete
Thank you Sherry for the feature and Mary golfing and working on trains is a nice retirement... :)ReplyDelete
You are most welcome, Robert. It was truly a pleasure. You have reawakened my longing for a train ride.ReplyDelete
I am pleased you are enjoying this visit with Robert, my friends. I so enjoy catching up with our fellow poets. We wouldn't be here without each one of you.
This was wonderful catching up with Robert....such a prolific writer. I have not been writing from childhood but rediscovered it within the last 10 years and I agree it is balm for the soul....thanks Sherry for another terrific interview....and thanks Robert for your wonderful writing.ReplyDelete
Glad to see you back, Robert! Great array of poems here. Best wishes in finishing your novel. Thanks Sherry for getting a talented gent!ReplyDelete
it's always nice to know a bit more about the poet. Thank you, Robert! :)ReplyDelete
Oh dear - I seem to be running behind all the time, lately. Spring finally sprung, and all those little chores and errands I've been putting off for months are suddenly bathed in sunshine.ReplyDelete
Speaking of 'bathed in sunshine' - what a treat to take a break from all my cleaning and fixing and linger over this wonderful post. Though only recently introduced to them, I am a big fan of Robert's poems. I really relate to the themes he chooses and what he does with those themes. Often, as was the case when I read 'The Diner', I feel as though I am: Right There. For me, Robert's writing is very evocative. It does have a bit of a Canadian 'vibe' to it, I think - so, perhaps, that is part of it.
Great job, Sherry and Robert. Thank you for this, Poets!
I envy you the energy for the cleaning - which I should be doing too, but I cant muster the strength. Yes, it is always lovely to feature a fellow Canadian, eh? LOL.ReplyDelete
What a trip back in time this was for me, steam trains, schoolgirl friends and even playing golf in my younger years, the richness of our lives past a dear memory for me and hopefully for you too Robert. What a wealth of history we probably have still to use in our poetry.ReplyDelete
Thanks Sherry for drawing Robert close. I have only recently met him at here at PU.ReplyDelete
Luv the fragile Robert in the schooldays poem and the fasinated Robert in the train poem. By two favourites here.
Hi Robert thanks for dropping by my blog with your kind comments
I have had an exceptionally crowded week, so am only just reading this. And very glad I finally did! I've been enjoying Robert's poetry since he returned to blogging, and it's lovely to get to know the person behind the poems. Many thanks to you both!ReplyDelete