Do you know what you’d like to say to that special someone but can’t find the words?

I would love to help.

I’ve been writing poetry for over two decades and have published several books. Google my full name (Eric Vance Walton) and you will see that my individual poems have been published widely in many publications and literary journals.

Through my decades of experience I will insure that the poem we craft together reflects the depth of your caring and love for the recipient. This poem will make an impression that will be remembered always [read more]

Bobos

 

As we’re all finding out in countless ways Facebook is a blessing and a curse. Tonight it was a true blessing for me. Let me share with you why…nestled in the comments of a childhood friend’s Facebook post was a word that I hadn’t heard in about thirty years and it is a gem. In fact the term was completely erased from my memory. What was this gem?  Bobo.

 

It’s funny because back in the seventies bobo (pronounced, boe boe) was a word of shame. Bobo was a derogatory term but it was a shame all of us shouldered. Me, my brother Curt, my friend Sean, and our other friend Shawn all grew up on Elizabeth Avenue in a lower middle class neighborhood on the eastside of Columbus, Ohio. Before any of us had the means to scratch together our own money with paper routes or lawn jobs our parents had to buy our clothes and shoes. None of our parents had a lot of extra money so those shoes were always bobos.

 

Just incase you aren’t familiar with the term bobo or have forgotten, like I did, bobo was a term for generic, no-name shoes. Bobos never cost more than ten dollars, they sported, “made in Taiwan” on the label, smelled like burning rubber, and were almost always from Kmart. I have to hand it to the Taiwanese, they were inventive.

 

I suspect the foundation of the entire modern Chinese economy was built by the bobo tycoons of the 1970’s making knock-offs of popular brand shoes like Nike and Adidas. At first glance bobos looked strikingly similar to the popular name brands but had crazy features that were just a little off like an upside down Nike swoosh or four stripes on the Adidas-style shoes instead of three.

 

When new, bobos were magical. The funny thing about bobos is all of us were convinced that we could run just a little faster and jump higher when our bobos were brand new. This luster wore off in just a few days when they were covered in mud and grass stains. The life span of pair of bobos was way too short, it only took a month before they looked like they had been run over by a herd of buffalo. We would still try to make them last all summer.  Between Curt, Sean, Shawn, and I our parents probably paid for the Taiwanese bobo factory several times over.

 

In retrospect I think bobos were actually a good thing. Those parents of the seventies were wise because bobos built character. In our neighborhood you weren’t measured by the clothes or the shoes you wore. You were measured by how fast you could run, how high you could jump, or how far could sail off of a flimsy plywood ramp on your BMX bike (sans helmet or knee pads.)

 

So many children walk around these days with an air of entitlement. I would bet a majority of kids now would refuse to step out their front doors without their smartphones, let alone wearing non-name brand shoes.  Children of the seventies, this is our chance to make a difference in the world. We need only pool our money together, stoke the flames of that Taiwanese shoe factory, and get it churning out bobos again.

Parents, it will be difficult, but we must work together. For this plan to succeed you must refuse to buy your children a pair of name brand shoes ever again. From here on out it’s nothing but bobos until the kids can pay for their own name brand shoes. I have faith that we can stand united and together we will change the world, one child (and one beautiful pair of bobos) at a time.

 

~Eric Vance Walton~

The Best Way

Thousands of years 

reside in each 

of our moments

we are the

derivative of all those 

who came before us

each smile 

they ever smiled,

each mile 

they ever traveled,

each idea 

they ever thought,

each tear 

they ever cried,

every struggle 

they ever fought

you are a link 

in this kinetic chain

that builds upon 

the story of humanity,

one experience at a time

face your fears

live your dreams

fulfill your curiosities

listen to your heart

be your best self

interject yourself

into the narrative of 

the Universe 

this might be 

the best way,

the only way 

to give a proper

thank you to 

the many who lived 

and died for 

you to enjoy 

this very breath.

~Eric Vance Walton~

A Thought Away

Take me 

to the deepest places,

the sacred places, 

not of show but of heart,

warm and filled with light

sing me the songs 

that travel with you 

not just of the stone 

that’s in your shoe

When I feel your story 

a piece of you 

will walk with me

until you and I are dust 

and then well beyond 

to that great freedom

that we will learn 

was always just 

a thought away.

~Eric Vance Walton~

A DIFFERENT STORY

 

 

Until I was eight or nine years old our neighborhood was the kind of place where few people locked their doors. We were all lower middle class and mostly white. We knew almost every family that lived on our street by name.  The neighborhood always felt safe and the threat of violence was totally absent from our minds. In reality we existed in not as much of an oasis as in a bubble.  Our city had already changed outside our imaginary borders but our neighborhood still had only one story.

 

Life provided a few hints of stories that were different from our own during my days at Fairmoor Elementary School.  Damon came to our school in the first grade. He was the first African-American I can remember meeting in person. Kids would run up to him and ask to touch his hair because the texture was different from their own. Damon was quickly accepted as “one of the guys” when kids realized although he looked different, he was really just like us.

 

Just a few weeks after the start of the school year the Principal introduced Sivaley (pronounced, civil-lay) to our third grade class. Sivaley was a shy Asian boy who didn’t speak a word of English. We discovered he and his family were recent immigrants from war-torn Vietnam. At first Sivaley seemed so foreign to us that he may as well have been from another planet.  He spent the first few weeks quietly taking it all in and drawing tanks and artillery on the blackboard, which were likely the last memories he had of his country.

 

A few of my friends and I took Sivaley under our wings and made sure he had someone to hang out with during recess. I had a Superball, which was a small rubber ball that would bounce hundreds of feet in the air. This is the first time I remember Sivaley relaxing and attempting to communicate. We connected on a human level. It was as though playing with the ball made him forget everything else that was running through his head. I lost track of him after third grade and often wonder what became of him.

 

Our neighborhood changed pretty significantly at the start of the 1978-1979 school year. This was the year desegregation began in Columbus, Ohio. I’ll never forget when the outcome of the voting was announced on the radio during my summer vacation. That day I sensed a general helplessness and disbelief amongst the adults in my life. It was a done deal, for fourth and fifth grades I would be bused into one of the worst neighborhoods in the entire city. As a child of nine my stomach felt like it was twisted into knots as the end of Summer approached, I was terrified.

 

The first day of fourth grade I realized it was only a fifteen minute ride to a different world.  Mrs. Love, greeted us with a smile as we boarded her bus, the stereo blasted funk music the entire way to Fair Avenue School.  As we approached the school I saw a neighborhood that was much different from our own.  Houses were boarded up, yards unkempt, and trash littered the streets. The first few days were uncomfortable and were a shock. This was my first immersion in a story different from my own.  It got easier every day.  Although it was uncomfortable at first, I consider the education I received at this school, from the curriculum and otherwise, was among the best I ever have in my life.

 

By the time I started ninth grade at Eastmoor High School in 1984 our own neighborhood was undergoing a transformation.  It was the golden age of the crack epidemic and gangs from larger cities, including the L.A. Crips, had started to move into the east side of Columbus. Law enforcement wasn’t prepared. Our neighborhood fell quickly, seemingly overnight, to become a haven for drug dealing, prostitution, and violence. Everyone who could afford it moved away and we became the minority.

 

As my teenage years went by I met many different people of many different backgrounds and races. Sometimes it was hard. The lesson I’ve taken away is people are pretty much people and the only real measure of a person is the content of their character. I appreciate exposure to their various perspectives which have enriched my life in ways that I could never have imagined.

 

There is a great divide in our country and our world today. This divide exists primarily within the confines of our own minds.  I think possibly the first step to building the bridge to understanding one another is to realize that there is more than one story. Each of us has the opportunity to be both a student and a teacher. Familiarity doesn’t always breed contempt, it can also breed compassion. We must teach our stories and learn the stories of others. When we can finally open our minds to this maybe the true healing can begin.

 

~Eric Vance Walton~

A MOTHER’S LOVE

 

It’s been said that you shouldn’t compare your life to the lives of others. I don’t entirely agree with this. Sometimes I think this is the only way you truly can get an accurate measure of some things…like how lucky you are.

 

I didn’t realize how lucky I was until I was in my thirties. Nearly two decades had passed since my last climb on the jungle gym, my last true swing on the swings or the final time I careened down a playground slide.

 

After gaining a little of the wisdom that comes trudging blind through the joys, sorrows, and mysteries of adulthood for a few years my eyes began to open a little. Although my childhood wasn’t perfect I began to see how rare and precious it was.

 

My dad was a welder.  Back in the 1970’s he earned enough money to allow my mom to stay home with my brother and I. One income families were even becoming more rare then. Most of my friend’s parents both worked outside the home. Many of these kids hung out at our house during summer vacation. My mom would make enough PB&J or bologna sandwiches and chicken noodle soup for however many kids were at our table that day.

 

Despite never having much money my earliest memories are warm, safe, and very loving. I’m thankful that I still remember lots of them. Before my brother was born (we’re 3 ½ years apart) my Mom would load me up in a little red Radio Flyer wagon and pull me up to the neighborhood store. I remember us taking our time on those walks and looking at the birds and the flowers in the spring and the colorful leaves in the fall.

 

We spent a lot of time together, her and I, we were buddies. She would patiently answer any and all of questions my little brain could generate. In the afternoons there was a small window of time between house cleaning and having to start dinner. Mom and I would watch Sesame Street and Mister Rogers together. She would also read to me from a growing library of Golden Books and the stories of Dr. Suess.

 

We didn’t have video games or many of the other distractions kids have today.  Sometimes before Sesame Street we would move the dining room chairs in the living room and arrange them in a circle and drape a sheet over top of them, making a pretty amazing fort. We would take an old Quaker Oats container and turn it into a kid-sized bongo drum.

 

It was during these games of “pretend” I discovered my imagination could take me away from our little 700 square foot house to anywhere I wanted to be. I credit these games of pretend with providing me with the imagination I use now every day to craft fiction, poetry and even these blog posts.

 

Soon my brother was born and the dynamic of the family changed but Mom taught me how to share and be gentle and patient with him. Soon we became the three amigos and were always together. My brother started to join us on those wagon rides to the neighborhood store.

 

Now that I’m in my mid-forties I think back to those memories and they seem like they happened lifetimes ago. So many new memories are crammed between then and now. Those early experiences provided me with the bedrock on which I have built my life. 

My Mom taught me to be patient, caring, forgiving, and loving. Thanks to the the gift of that simple and pure childhood my parents gave me I know how survive through the ups and downs of life. I am content with very little in lean times and I fully appreciate abundance when it does come my way.

 

I’m happy to say that my Mom and I are still best buds. We live almost a thousand miles away but we still talk a few times a day. She is my rock, my personal advisor, my trusted friend. In many significant ways she made me who I am today.  Words could never express the gratitude that I feel towards her but I will try.

 

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your sacrifice, your patience, and giving so freely of yourself. Those early years were so precious. I have found nothing in this world quite like a Mother’s love. Because of you I have felt more than my share of its warmth. I love you always.

 

Happy Mother’s Day!

 

~Eric Vance Walton~


YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR

I’ve liked old things for as long as I can remember. As I child I dreamed of owning an old British MG convertible and gravitated towards Laurel and Hardy, Little Rascals, and black/white films. As I got older this love of old stuff continued and I started collecting vintage watches. The jazz revival in the mid-nineties was fabulous for me because I had already been listening to artists like Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, and Fats Waller for years. With a very few exceptions modern music didn’t sound good to me.

From the time I was in my late teens until just a few years ago I was consciously unplugged from current pop culture. In my mind I had partially dropped out of modern society. I was protesting a culture that I felt was empty, contrived, and driven by only one thing…making money. Like many people I was guilty of romanticizing the past. I imagined that life that previous generations lived was better, easier, slower, less complicated, and happier. The truth is this just wasn’t the case.
 

If I ever get to meet Woody Allen I’ll thank him for causing a tremendous shift in perception. A life changing awakening was triggered in me while watching his film, Midnight In Paris. The epiphany I had was this, each generation has its own struggles, stresses, and strife. By unplugging yourself from your current time and longing for the past you miss out on the geniuses of your time.  Another tragic side effect of this is you lose the ability to be conscious of, and enjoy, the moment.

There’s something in our mammalian brains that tends to whitewash memories of past events. Maybe this was originally a mechanism for self-preservation or to foster happiness in old age but now it only impedes our personal growth so it must somehow be put into perspective.  Examine memories of your own past. There are few of us who don’t uncover melancholy feelings about events or situations that were unpleasant or downright unhealthy while we were living through them.  

The Universe is amazing, it provides us with lessons, in real time, nearly every moment of our existence. We can learn valuable lessons from friends, relatives, song lyrics, dreams, even films. The present moment can teach us many things. There’s one caveat, we must be paying attention. Maybe we call it “PAYING attention” because it’s hard. It’s difficult to filter out distractions and notice when our own brains are working against us. I know one thing for sure, it’s worth every single effort to try.

~Eric Vance Walton~