Back From the Bitter End
My first attempt at writing of any sort was an over-rhymed and predictably lame bit of poetry -- in the 4th grade. Fortunately for my reputation as an editor, no copies have survived to the present. My desperately-unhappy teen years produced a few more pieces, mainly inspired by Byron's "Prisoner of Chillon". Of those, few remain in the world, and I'm not so sure I'd care to let the wretched creatures out in public.
In 1967 I won the Great Falls, Montana citywide short-story writing contest with a morbid tale of seven mules and an old geezer, all of whom die horribly by the obligatory 700th word. But it's not my fault. Some wit decided every junior high school student with a grade of B or above in English was required to participate, and the penalty for declining was an F for the quarter!! So I hacked the thing out literally at the last minute, and won $5.00 for my efforts (by coincidence, my horrorscope for the day claimed I would "come into some money"). Bonnie Neuschwander (my most excellent 7th grade English teacher) must have been doing something right -- the 3rd place winner also came from our class. Alas, this gem of juvenile angst has also been lost.
The late 1970s saw another spasm of prosodic ventures, a few even fit for human consumption (two were actually published in a real magazine!!) Some were extrapolated from chance phrases that fell into patterns of affinity; others were spawned by a fascination with Star Wars concurrent with a deliberate change of mental focus, with themes to varying degrees pilfered from the reading material of the day (primarily science fiction and fantasy ... what, you were expecting romance??)
In 1980 the entire sordid collection was privately published (which is to say, typed up, photocopied, and inflicted on passersby at the whim of the author) under the title Back From the Bitter End. Here are a few of the less-noxious selections.
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