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I Was There

Just as every year before
To a relative's house we went
To eat and talk all the more
For reunion, holiday, or event

And like every time in the past,
A ton of food was laid out
And as always it wouldn't last
The best gone first no doubt

And as every time before
Unfamiliar faces there all the more
Many old friends gone and new ones there
And small ones running everywhere

And the teenagers with nothing to do all day
While their parents talk the day away
Some chew the fat while others hang out
It's enough to make me scream and shout

And while I avoided the cheek pinching show,
I came across someone I didn't know
An old man in a rocking chair,
Talking to others gathered there

He told a story of the days of old
A story they'd been a thousand times told
I saw it as to leave they did try
Before more of the story went by

But the man was observant.
He didn't talk long
He let them go instead of rambling on

And after they left he sat there alone
I came near to him and made myself known
I asked him to tell me more of that day
For I had not heard all he did say

He looked at me and seemed to say,
"Don't patronize me, with the others go play."
He said, "You don't have to listen for my sake."
But my interest was genuine, it wasn't fake

And upon hearing this he told me more
He told yarns of humor and tales of gore
And in doing this he did not talk all day,
But listened to me and what I had to say

He told me of grand places far away
And of strange places where the night he did stay
He told me of the great things he was able to do
And of great things people did for him too

One story he did tell me,
Was when the world he went off to see
And when he finished his heart, it did sink
And of far away places did he seem to think

"It must've been grand," I managed to say
But his thoughts were still far away

Then he said of the others there,
"The others here earlier-they don't care.
And it's not just them, my friends also,
They grew tired of hearing of the places I go.

"But I was there, why can't they see,
That I was there is so important to me?
I was there, I cannot forget!
That I was there and the people I met

"And the people were real
And the experience too
But this day and this meal
Is to them all that's true

"And my friends, they are the same way too
Only what you can see is what matters to you

"And they grow tired of hearing of the things I've done
And they don't want to hear about my racing the sun
And they don't care if I've been to the moon
They just wonder, will I shut up soon?

"I was there, and they can't take that from me
I was there, though I just have a memory
I was there, and I wish I could make them see
I was there, there where I long to be

"And all I do reminds me of them
And so I mention my travels again
And others just roll their eyes
The truth do they not realize

"That it isn't a place or thing I treasure,
It is the experience that gives me pleasure
It isn't running from my life I try,
It's living a life before I die

"But it's not death I'm concerned with, not death, oh no,
It's everyday life and the places I go
It's the people I love and the things I do
For experiences and love are all you have, it's true

"But people don't want to hear things like that
They care more about money than where the truth's at
They wander around from day to day,
Not getting anywhere, just losing their way

"And they don't want to hear of the places I've gone
They don't want to hear me rambling on
I guess the way other people must feel
Is when you've done things yourself are they real

"So it just doesn't matter what I say
I'm a doddering old fool anyway
They keep going on their own way
From day to day, and day to day
Though in the future they may see
Far off places and the truth like me."

Here I stopped him and said what I thought
"Your words are not all all for naught.
You should keep on, even if they don't see.
It matters sometimes. It matters to me."

And then shortly there after we parted our ways
We had talked long after the sun's last rays
Many had gone, and the food had grown cold
As we left, I thought of what I'd been told

I never saw him again or heard from him a thing
He died and his funeral was the next family fling
I didn't cry although he was dead
For I remembered the words he had said

Just as every year before and every since
In his words I find wisdom in hints
And though he may have never gone to the moon,
The words were not that of a loon

Although I knew not who he was, I know who I am
Perhaps the words are more important than the man
And though his words seemed sad to me
I know in the end they set him free
And though the places he went I have yet to go,
The wisdom of his words I can still know

"I was there, and they can't take that from me
I was there, though I just have a memory
I was there, and I wish I could make them see
I was there, there where I long to be."

-F. C. Stamps
1-3 December 1995

Background and Explication: This is one of my favourite poems. I wrote it over a few days trying to capture four main concepts: 1) that the memory of an experience though so precious to the teller, is meaningless to the hearer for they have not experienced the same themselves (stanzas 6, 12-19, 24-25, 31); 2) that there is a love/hate relationship that exists about family gatherings and interacting with others in general dependant upon one's stage in life and maturity (stanzas 1-5); 3) that the experiences we have and the relationships we have with others are all we truly possess (stanzas 20-22); and 4) people in general fail to think deeply enough about those things in life which really matter but instead just live day to day without stopping to find purpose or define true and lasting happiness (stanzas 23, 25).  Of course there are several lesser concepts besides those four, but the first reason, that one may have treasured experiences that no one else cares about is the main theme, myself having experienced that phenomenon both before and after my time in Japan.

I Wonder Why

I sit upon the seashore sand
Where I sit, it is land
There seems to be a magic line
Where the water won't cross - I wonder why

I catch a snowflake in my hand
With its designs so well planned
Then before I touch it, or even try,
It disappears, I wonder why

I see a rainbow, great and grand
It never seems to touch the land
I follow it to the end of sky
It is not there; I wonder why

I see these things, here and there
Things for everyone
Yet why do we not share
With those who have none?

-F. C. Stamps

Background: This piece was written when I was only in the fourth grade.  It is not my only work of poetry that has survived since then, but it is the only poem from that period that I consider good enough to include here.  I hear a sense of childlike perspective when I read this poem, obviously due to the fact that I wrote in my youth, thus it reminds me of my thinking at that time.

My Thoughts

They are my own thoughts, memories, secrets, wishes, hopes, fears, dreams, nightmares, and sins

They are mine and mine alone

I shall never completely share with or reveal them to anyone save it be God

I shall not entirely control them nor fully understand them within this lifetime

They shall be my only saving grace to heaven and my damnation to hell

I shall die and take them to the grave with me

But they shall live on

And through them, and God, I shall attain Eternal Life and everlasting happiness and live forever and ever

For that is my dream.

-F. C. Stamps

Background: There is no date on this work because I not only never recorded the date I wrote it, but I also have revised it over the years several times.   This is rare for me as usually my poems have taken only an hour or two to compose.   It is one of my few free verse poems.  The words "Eternal Life" are capitalized and mentioned separately from living forever in the second to the last line to infer to the LDS believe in exaltation above and beyond mere physical salvation; immortality or living forever being a quantitative term while eternal life being a qualitative term.

Fly The Sky

(1 of 3) A Psalm of Peace (-4/17/1995)

There the sky is bluer
There the waters clearer
Dangers there are fewer
There the moments dearer -2/13/1994

There things are real
There things a mess
There things white as snow,
Yet darker than the rest -2/14/1994

It is to laugh
It is to cry
To never commit
To live or die -2/14/1994
And we can do so
In the sky
Yes we can do so
In the sky -2/20/1994

Yet is it a dream?
Can I not fly?
Whispers I scream,
Across the sky -2/20/1994

Always old enough to learn
Never old enough to die
Ever will this fire burn
For the love o'er which I cry -1/1994
Love of the sky, love of the sky -2/20/1994

If things were as they seem,
I would not have gone mad
And our love, not a dream,
Which in the end was all we had -1/1994
Dreaming of the sky -2/20/1994

And so if you wake one day
And feel the urge to fly,
Join me as I drift away
There in the sky, there in the sky
Dreams come true, or so they say,
There in the sky. -2/20/1994

-F. C. Stamps
January 1994 - February 20, 1994

Background: Unlike most of my poetry, this piece was written over a period of time.  You'll notice the lines of the poem were not written in the order as they appear in the final poem here.  I originally wrote just independent fragments which were not complete poems themselves in January and February of '94.  Then on the flight to Washington D.C., my first flight that I can Remember taking, and also once in Washington, I put the existing stanzas together with those I had just written about the love of flight.  I have always loved flight, and this poem is an attempt to express that.  The note at the top, (1 of 3) A Psalm of Peace, refers to two other poems I wrote which are about other events in my life.  Those other poems are not included here on the website.

Untitled 1

When dark storm clouds hang over you
Remember the Sun shines over them too
And even in the darkest night
Remember the Stars still shine bright
And like these things that we now can't see
Remember God watches over you and me.

-F. C. Stamps
July-August 1996

Background: I wrote this short piece for my fellow missionaries while in the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah shortly before leaving for Japan.  I wanted to convey the comparison of the Sun, the stars, and God: all things we can't always see which are always there.

O The Day!

It was snowing slightly the night I was born
It was raining lightly the day I died
But oh those sunny days in between,
Days for which, saints would have lied

Oh the times we have had
Both the good and the bad
Oh the joys I have tasted
Yet all of it I've now wasted

Only now in the end do I know
Nothing that I had, have I to show
'Twas all for not, and vain indeed
For words of reason did I not heed

To you I can only say don't delay
Prepare for tomorrow and seize the day!

-F. C. Stamps
March 18, 1995

Background: I consider this to be one of my better works.  The first line refers to snow as I was born in Denver, Colorado in the winter, and the second line refers to Oregon where I have lived most of my life up till now and where it is raining probably raining this very moment.  The original wording of the last line of the third stanza used "wisdom" instead of "reason," but I decided later that that might be confused with church doctrine to which I wasn't alluding.  And of course the last line of the poem is from the Latin "Carpe Diem."

My Friends

I thank thee, God, for all my friends
Those whose friendship knows no end

I thank thee for them as I said,
Both those living and those dead
In times of joy and times of dread

Both real and imaginary
Those who leave and those who tarry

Both those who call me friend
And those who call me foe
Both those I've known years on end
And those I have yet to know

I thank thee for thy friendship too
And there is but one thing I can ask of you
That we might start again anew,
That I also might be a friend so true.

-F. C. Stamps
April 27, 1995

Background: I consider this one of my best works of poetry.  In a few short lines it captures exactly how I feel about others.  In the sense used in the poem, family would also be considered friends, as I do in real life consider my family true friends and my friends as family also.

Have You Ever Raced the Sun?

(example of 2nd person writing)

Have you ever chased the sun
To that far off distant line
To where earth and sky become one
Beyond sight and out of mind?
Have you ever raced the sun?
And if so, have you ever won?

Have you ever with the eagles flown
Above Earth's lofty heights
Or seen those peaks, wind swept blown
Or beheld their starry nights?
Have you ever raced the sun?
And if so, have you won?

Have you ever with the wolf pack ran
Or sailed the seven seas
Or stood days away from any man
Or cured some great disease?

Have you ever helped a nation form
Or try to prevent a war?
Have you ever seen a baby born
Or helped out feeding the poor?
Have you ever raced the sun?
And if so, have you won?

Have you ever lived the "good" life
With your money and your treats?
Have you ever had a time of strife
Or slept on city streets?

Have you ever been given a second chance
Or flown on borrowed wings
Or wished the song wouldn't end on the last dance
Or pitied powerful kings?
Have you ever raced the sun?
And if so, have you won?

Have you ever saved the life of another
Or made an enemy your friend?
Have you ever lost a friend or brother
Or stood by your word to the end?

Have you ever shared another's true love
Or walked along the beach at dawn
Or tried to count the small grains thereof
Or done the small things big things are built on?

Have you ever breathed deep the breath of life?
Have you ever seized the day?
If you have, you've overcome death's sharp knife
And when asked this, you'll know what to say--
Have you ever raced the sun?
And if so, have you won?

-F. C. Stamps
November 1-2, 1995

Background: I wrote "Have You Ever Raced the Sun?" just a month before writing "I Was There."  At the time I thought it was a wonderful piece, but it pales in comparison to the latter work.  There was actually a poem wrote in response to this piece, answering the question posed here.  I wrote it shortly before I left for Japan and hid it in the back panel of a picture that I gave to one of my friends, but have since forgotten who I gave it to.

(example of poetry without verbs)

The wind your hair
The wind of the east
Your mind without care
Your spirit at peace

The walk northward bound
A bright cloudless day
The water's only sound
A calm gentle sway

Beneath your feet, sand
Then above that, the sea
Shallow water and land
And you in ecstasy

The sky so blue
The trees so green
At last peace for you
Then something unseen

A loud sound now there
The sound of a bell
Back now to where?
Awake back in hell

Not the devil's lair
Just as bad though
Back now there
Back on the go

In a state of undress
Shirt, to tight
Hair still amess
Tie, not right
What a terrible state
Awake but late

A quick shower and then--
Breakfast? No time
At the gas station when
In you pockets not a dime

On the commute that day,
A fork within your reach
Work one way
And the other the beach

A wrong turn of course
Of course too late now
Too far down the road
Far from work, and how!

Now the wind in you hair
The wind of the west
Your mind without care
Your spirit at rest

The walk southward bound
A bright sunny day
Then twice around
The path's scenic way

Tomorrow not so kind
With work's stress not far from mind
But then there with you
The peace from here there too.

-F. C. Stamps
November 1995

Background: As with many of my other poems, when I began to write this piece, I had no real aim in mind but instead just let the poem take on a life of its own.  I never even bothered to title it, but I feel that it turned out to be a fine and unique example of poetry without verbs.  Some of the words in the poem are usually used as verbs, but in the sense they are used in the poem they are obviously not verbs.

Deep Thoughts

I am lost in the sea of endless thought
Some are deep
Some are for not
But when I am lost at sea
The thoughts are lost on me

I only hope I'm not lost too long
Some thoughts must not go on
And others should be written down
And I must leave before I drown

For when in aimless thought your mind doth wander,
Both good and evil doth it ponder
And so at sea you must keep your course true
For as you think so shall ye do

Will you sink in unworthy waves for not,
Or catch the wind in your sails of thought
And be thou strong and your course keep
Or will your grave be in the deep?

-F. C. Stamps
May 8, 1996

Background: I first wrote this poem on the back of a very small slip of pager with the only pen I had at the time, a red pen.  The piece is very rich with word play and double meanings.  The climax of the poem's theme occurs in the third stanza where I tried to convey the fact that thought always precedes the action.

Let Him Dream

I dreamed a dream years ago
And here years later now I know
I was a fool that dream to chase
Till reality I was forced to face

That my dream never could come true
I denied it yet all along knew
Some dreams were never meant to be
Some rivers never reach the sea

Thus did I never realize
The hope that was wondrous to mine eyes
Now our friend dares to dream too
Hoping the impossible can come true

And all we do is laugh him to scorn
And kill his hope before it’s born
We do not lend him words of praise
Nor offer our hands our idol days

And in my heart I know it too
His dream will probably never come true
And I am sad my friend to see
Headed for pain inevitably

But must we hurt him in our spite?
Even though we know we’re right?
Is it right to encourage the unreachable goal?
Or shun the hope before pain takes its toll?

Which is right? Can you see?
Is what’s right for my friend wrong for me?

I see him sitting ‘neath the skies
Weighing his dream with wide eyes
And eyes aglow in seas of thought
I cannot tell his dreams for naught

I stopped dreaming years ago
But the hope of dreams I still know
And though they may never be all they seem
Still I say Let him dream!

-F. C. Stamps
July 18, 2000

Background: Although I wrote this piece in July 2000, I had been pondering this idea since 1996, when a friend wrote to me during my time in Tokyo, telling me of his aspiration to win the heart of a celebrity. The past few months I have thought about this idea of letting friends search out their dreams for better or worse as one of my friends has sought in vain for the love he once had, another has aspired to become an Olympic athlete, and and a third friend has dreamt of building his own multi-million dollar theme park. I do not lack faith in my friends’ abilities, but I do lack understanding in their choice of seemingly unattainable paths. Unfortunately, it would seem that sometimes you do not choose the dream, the dream chooses you. I only hope they are more successful with their hopes and dreams than I have been.

I received inspiration for line 8 from The Righteous Brothers' song, "Unchained Melody."

Before reading this next poem, one should read its precursor, "LINES." I wrote both poems while studying in Hawaii. In the first poem, "LINES," I portray my sometimes frustrating college experience through comparing it to hiking to the less than inspiring Laie Falls. Then, in the second poem, I discuss my change of heart upon summitting those same mountains.


Inspired a few hundred feet above Laie Falls,
Independence Day 2001

I kept looking at the wall a mountain range tall
Of my paradise prison each day
And I wanted to climb it when I had the time
And see what beyond it lay

Before when we had climbed up to see
Laie Falls where we'd stop
We never went higher before we would tire
Thinking ourselves near the top

And never would we see the beauty
Of the green against the sky
Nor stop very long to hear the bird's song
Before passing it by

But then one day, making our way
As the sun shone on the sea
We went passed the falls to the top of my wall
And found only halfway were we

The second half of the climb took much more time
Knee high mud making it worse
But the wide-open view showed Nature's bosom anew
More beautiful than the first

At last at the top, 2000 feet up
I raised my hands to the wind
And there let out a triumph shout
My captivity had an end

The end of sky escaped my eye
As one blue faded to another
And only the land or my outstretched hand
Could tell the two asunder

The endless sea made me free
Free as its boundless blue
And showed me then Paradise lies within
All Nature lay in my view

Years may pass but the view still lasts
Of that day and that memory fond
When I climbed up a ledge to my world's edge
And beheld what lay beyond.

-F. C. Stamps

Poetry copyright © 1998 by F. C. Stamps

© 1999 - 2018 F. C. Stamps