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Alone and Exposed – a culture article

 Alone and Exposed – a culture article

In the south…. in my culture, colloquially ……….Buck Naked (or butt naked if you prefer.)

Exposed……………… Revealed for all to see, nothing hidden, all facades and pretenses laid bare. (Not really true here, I’ve held back plenty!)

This post is perhaps a little too personal and exposes more than you’re interested in experiencing, but hey, you can only stay focused on the same subject (politics) so long. For those who don’t know me, perhaps it will provide some insight, for those who do know me ……….you probably won’t care.

Also, not intended as a “poor me” reflection. I know all too well, there are myriad people that have had tougher hurdles and challenges in their life than one who’s father was vague in expressing expectations for his sons.

Lewis Grizzard speaks of the difference between naked and nekkid.

Naked: “You ain’t got no clothes on.”

Nekkid: “You ain’t got no closes on…………..and ye’r up to sumpin’.”

Listening to John Denver’s lyrics, his capacity to express emotion and paint pictures with words. What a gift.

As a boy I had no interest in words, reading words, understanding how words can evoke feelings, move people to action and paint beautiful pictures. I didn’t read well…….so I didn’t like to read. But as I began to read more, as you would expect I became a better reader and as a consequence I began to appreciate the different styles of writing and the different ways in which authors express themselves. As with painting, seeing a particular style or color rendition caused me to want to paint,………reading good, diverse and interesting writing caused me to want to write. Certainly that doesn’t give my writing credibility, just explains why I attempt to do it.

And while now I’d like to think I can express myself beautifully; realistically I know I can’t. But like all other realities, I don’t let that deter me.

A Poem

 No Longer Needed

Here I sit alone tonight,
but for Kentucky Tavern
in a glass of ice,
feeling somewhat useless
and no longer needed.

Sooner now, then later
my time will be ending.
I don’t contemplate with fear,
but reflect with thanksgiving.

The biological imperative
has been heeded.
I’ve served the purpose,
I’ve performed the task,
the seed is passed.
I’m no longer needed.

My sons are men,
my daughter is grown
and on her own,
and I am alone.
No longer needed.

My life has been as full
as the moon in tonight’s sky,
and when I die,
I hope to leave something
of value behind.

If Guy Clark isn’t a poet,
then certainly…..neither am I.
When he reflects on his father’s life,
he talks about the Randle knife.

When my song is ended,
and this life I leave,
what will there be
in the drawer to retrieve?
I have no Randle knife to leave.

March 14, 1998

My father was born in 1889. His life and mine traverse three centuries. He raised an entire family to adulthood before I was born in 1941. He and Molly had six children, two girls and four boys. The oldest boy, his namesake died at 19. The other three all served in WWII. He brought them up during the Great Depression and they would all be a part of Tom Brokaw’s “Greatest Generation.” But for his oldest, based on stories he told and accounts he gave, the boy’s largely disappointed him, in that they never achieved at the level he hoped for; common mistake and failing among us fathers.

And as a result, from my earliest recollections, he wanted me to “amount to something”. He never clearly defined what that “something” was, so it left for me, a vague, rather open chasm of effort, attempts and uncertainty of accomplishment. Unconsciously all my life I know I’ve tried to “amount to something”, but suspecting it really wouldn’t……. amount to much.

And while I’ve tried, and my wife say’s I’ve been a “good provider”, I’m certainly not wealthy. I’ve not been acclaimed in any field. I’ve not distinguished myself in any significant manner. Oh, I’ve served on Boards, I’ve chaired committees, and have the plaques and awards to prove it. But when I measure myself by many contemporaries, in my estimation, I fall way short. And when I measure myself by my father’s yardstick, because it was so vague, I still don’t know where I stand. Since he died when I was only two years into my career, he didn’t live to judge my success or failure to Amount to Something. And therefore……………I still strive.

I graduated high school, his first child (of six previous) to do so. I graduated college, setting myself apart there as well. I’m the only one of his children to remain married to his first and only wife (now over 53 years). I have a solid, loving, happy and healthy relationship with all our children.

When in life is it too late to give up trying to be a success?

How and by what yardstick do we measure our success? I could define the standards to make myself look really good, but would it be accurate, would it be realistic, would it be democratic?

I suspect this desire to fulfill my father’s dream for me and his other son’s is why I’m still working into my 75th year; why I still paint and sculpt and write these articles. Maybe one day something I do will really “amount to something.”

Personal comment – First of all, I know my marriage and my children are great accomplishments and I do not discount them in any way in my attempts to amount to something. Secondly if you haven’t heard Guy Clark’s song “The Randle Knife”, go to “you-tube” and listen. In addition to it expressing a beautiful sentiment , (there’s an almost 5 minute guitar intro that is outstanding) it also helps explain the poem. While my children don’t like the poem, it is just the reflections of my feelings on a single night. Judy was out of town with lady friends, I had just eaten dinner in a restaurant alone and while driving home, the song came on the radio of my car. I drove home and wrote the poem.




  1. Lucy Stoffel Lucy Stoffel

    I love your poem!! I bet your father would say you “mounted to something”! Your heavenly father as well!

    • BurtonB BurtonB

      Such a nice comment, Thanks so much!

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