False Starts

From the poetry collection published in 2015, Autumn Opens a Door.

False Starts

After a lot of false starts –
If it were a swim meet, I think
I surely would have been disqualified by now
pick up my towel and go home
But life’s not like that thank goodness.
After a lot of false starts
I’m making some headway now –
Cross my fingers that saying it
doesn’t jinx things like they think in the theater
and maybe I should say Break a leg
instead except then I’m reminded
I’ve already broken my foot and
recovered which was one of the false starts
I was talking about.
After a lot of false starts
I’m making some headway now
so I ask you to move out of my way
please –
Thank you. Now
I am getting somewhere.
After a lot of false starts.

"Close Race" - mixed media. @ 2004. In swimming, a false start disqualifies you. Good thing that life is not like that.

“Close Race” – mixed media. @ 2004.
In swimming, a false start disqualifies you. Good thing that life is not like that.


21 thoughts on “False Starts

  1. Jeanette Winterson says that false starts don’t matter. “If I could follow the map further and if I could refuse the false endings (the false starts don’t matter), I could find the place where time stops. Where death stops. Where love is. Beyond time, beyond death, love is. Time and death cannot wear it away.”

    I love your cheerful picture, and disposition.

  2. Thank you. But I don’t agree about false starts. They can be very costly. Our time is limited here on earth. The strategy has to be, convert the false start to something useful. As in swimming, it is not always possible. But, we are a tapestry woven of dark and light threads and sometimes there are holes, too. All part of living. It is always interesting, anyway.

  3. Thank you. I feel I’ve had a lot of false starts in life. Luckily not too many in my swimming career! But otherwise. Well, everything adds up to something, just not what we always might have thought…

  4. No. you are right. Unfortunately all of them can’t be converted ( unless you count the idea of-a lesson learned, now try again!). But at least in life it’s not like swimming. There you get only one chance or you’re out. Still, I have great regret for my false starts and can’t wholly be philosophical about them. Hence my determination for when I do get things right. I have a lot to make up for.

  5. !!!Thank you. Yes, it is funny, to go off on a tangent, how useful sports are for describing life behaviors, not a new thought, of course, but it does recur, and I know I draw on my swimming years for guidance in many situations.

  6. i like the surprise of the lines “I’m making some headway now/ so I ask you to move out of my way/ please –” which suddenly reveals that the poem is addressed to a particular person, which explodes the old map of the poem in my head and replaces it with a new one!

  7. Thank you. I think I refer to my competitive swimming days often in my mind for how to meet challenges. Funny, as, except for one (Senior Games) meet a few years ago, my last race was in 1978…

  8. Yes. Thank you. When I wrote it, I did have a specific situation in my mind. I’ve been casting off a lot of “false starts” and their results in the last few years. I was a competitive swimmer when I was young and a false start disqualified you from the race, you had to try again some other time or some other way. This image has stuck with me.

  9. Thank you. It’s actually a collage, made of white sketch papers that I painted and then used as my collage material, so that is why it looks like a painting. I recommend this material, painted papers, it’s fun to make them and it is like painting to use them in collage, I think.

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