I like a poem you can jump rope to
It really all started, so you noticed, when I was in eighth grade on a Saturday afternoon in 1968; that's when it manifested that I was a poet, and this was how it was going to be. I went to the used book sale at the Orange Public Library, in Orange, my hometown, where I learned most of what little I know, and had to borrow a shopping cart to get my haul across the two parking lots back to Studio Lance, the home of the Iron Grandmother where I grew up, loved, and lost.
Along with the books I lugged all over until I lost everything, I got a recording of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony on 78s, and I could see why they called them albums; it was I think nine discs, with only bits on each side. Oh, but the bit of the slow movement I heard that afternoon as I lay on my back on my bed there knowing I had my books and wondering now who I was; I found myself writing a poem about the sun coming up.
I wadded up the paper and threw it in my Presidential waste basket that stopped with Lyndon Johnson, but the Iron Grandmother found it there, and had them read it at her church the next morning, where everybody loved it, and loved me too, all of a sudden; it was very strange, but I liked it. So I wrote more poems then, and when I liked a pretty girl I'd write her a poem, or a book of them, as I did for a girl named Penelope, who had what they called "olive skin" back then, like my mother.
My father, the hitman, was a poet too; I guess poetry was his day job. His father too, Grandfather Lance, who lived to be 102 under the stars among the red rocks in Sedona, Arizona, who said I was very Lancean indeed. I guess I am. I wondered if poetry was enough though, so I thought I'd learn how to set it to music and write songs, partsongs actually, for choirs to sing, also choral motets; I did this and got degrees, and composed and published lots and lots of choral octavos with all the best publishers; it was nice.
But along the way I got encephalitis when I was nineteen, and went into a coma and died, but I came back to life this way, more of a poet than ever, and there was something else too: my word thing. Now, with the dura mater of my brain burned away by high fever and the rest thoroughly shaken, but stirred too as it turns out, the poetry came out crazy: my favorite review ever was when this one guy spoke of me as "this... this... nursery-rhyming MADman!" That's existential nursery rhymes, actually, and yes sir.
I struggled with being a misfit and tried to kill myself several times, never dying, being comically immortal; I really tried, with auto accidents, that sort of thing. But, here I am. I was ultimately diagnosed Bipolar II (Rapid Cycling) Paranoid Schizophrenic Psychotic, and was kept in the lockdown psych ward for my own protection. I live on a compound out in the desert now in splendid isolation, invited here, again for my own protection, and when I was evicted elsewhere anyway, by friends who believe in me, and make my life pretty good.
That my poetry means anything to you means everything to me. Thank you, all and each, with all my heart. I send you my love.
Only the hopeful may see it I guess
But the world is making progress
The way it always does making a mess
But getting better more than less
At least when I think of humanity
As to the environment I hope we
Are not too late but hope to see
Us try anyway for a better way
To live to love another day
I think we are beginning to get it
Something is happening let it
Happen as it happens as happiness
+Steven Curtis Lance
I am embarrassed to seem a failure
When so many had been expecting me
Or maybe it was just my family
To have made them proud might have been the cure
But they were honest and they said they were
And now they have all gone into the light
As I have gone further into the dark
I will live simply and sleep in the park
Although a failure is what I might seem
I am still here now and I can still dream
If poor and sick and uncomfortable
Having made rather a mess of living
I am not one of the irritable
Who seem to prefer getting to giving
I give away such as I have to give
Which could be why I have so little now
Having hit bottom deciding to live
Against bad odds and good advice somehow
Everybody knows what is best for me
But I have to follow my destiny
My grandma thought it was I was too smart
She and her doctor were worried for me
Life broke my mind just like it broke her heart
I think my mother saw how it would be
But she married my father after all
My grandpa was not my grandfather but
With that perspective could see that my fall
Would lift my people up no matter what
What they all wanted was to make it right
But ran out of time as day became night
My children love me and I love them too
They watch me curiously anyway
One eye made proud one blind by what I do
I think one or two of them might still pray
The future is impossible to see
In fact the present is pretty hazy
As the past slips slowly from memory
Every now and then someone goes crazy
Since someone has to do it I will be
Myself since I am best at being me
+Steven Curtis Lance
My favorite greeting is "Mind the Cows"
I feel fragile when the going gets tough
I am not very good at whys nor hows
And yet under fire seem agile enough
To have dodged danger a very long while
Wearing my mentally-disabled smile
I like drinking tea and going to sea
And I want to live in England someday
The government here is not fond of me
And might likely like me to move away
I am kind to cats I like friendly dogs
I like to hear crickets at night (and frogs)
I am afraid of ladies but love them
I love to read my poetry out loud
I love young people and have three of them
Life makes me humble but they make me proud
I have a weakness for good cigarettes
I have only bad ones but no regrets
I am as poor as a person can be
Yet am not homeless nor do I need much
I am rich in friends who care about me
I am at once both in and out of touch
I get depressed yet know that I am blessed
So "Mind the Cows" (and never mind the rest)
+Steven Curtis Lance
A Misfit Born and Bred
(for all the pretty girls)
A misfit born and bred I do
Exactly as I please
But kindly as my mother taught
("God bless you" if you sneeze)
And if I spend the night with you
I'll thank you in the morn
For all the wonders we have wrought
(How lovely to be born!)
The world has turned and I have learned
A trick (or maybe two)
While hardly working I have earned
A place in poetry
A "name" though I have never sought
To turn the world to me
And best of all (as falls the fall)
I've had a roaring time
If quietly if poor and small
Mucking about with rhyme
A misfit born and bred I do
Exactly as I please
But love to entertain you too
With nonsense-lines like these
+Steven Curtis Lance
"We scan with our fingers / Life written as in Braille / Where memory lingers / When other senses fail // It might be better to / Just be alone with you"
--from the poem "One Lone Wolf to Another," found on page 65 of his book Sea Stones by +Steven Curtis Lance
He was born on a Friday, at 6:08 in the evening on 31 December 1954, a very strange evening when there was thunder and lightning out of the blue but only a trace of rain. This was taken to be an omen by his people, but for good or ill they could not say.
Do you believe in magic?
+Steven Curtis Lance does!
Read his latest collection
and discover the magic
Steven Curtis Lance
Orange, CA USA
"Aristotle says that in order to live alone, a man must be either an animal or a god. The third alternative is lacking: a man must be both - a philosopher." - Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844-1900) German Philosopher, Poet
+Steven Curtis Lance, a brilliant poet and talented composer, is a reclusive figure and lives alone.
"Language has created the word loneliness to express the pain of being alone, and the word solitude to express the glory of being alone." - Paul Johannes Tillich (1886-1965) American Theologian, Philosopher
His first poem was published at age fifteen, and he has published countless things countless times since then.
His desire to set poetic words to music led him to study long and hard and he was honored with the title "master motet composer."
He has written and published more than one hundred and thirty intricately-woven a cappella choral motets - intense, linear counterpoint.
The success of this led him on to doing the same with all the major classical print music publishers in the United States.
His first music publication was when he was twenty-four, and at that time he was invited to join the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers as a dual member, composer and author; he has been a member more than twenty-five years.
Along the way he has completed degrees, has teaching credentials, won various awards, honors, prizes, alumni achievement awards, city and state proclamations, certificates of this and that.
But he just likes to write poems.
"Angels fly because they take themselves lightly." - Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936) English Essayist, Novelist, Journalist, Poet
+ + +
*~ Foreword to The Red Book of Lance ~*
by Steven's physician, Robert D. Budman, M.D.:
There is a place in heaven for many yet no spot is assured. Many seats in the majesty of the heavens are surely for the artisans of the world. Humble, wholesome souls for the most part, and Steven Curtis Lance would assuredly be counted amongst those. In the writings of Stevie his honesty and emotions come across clearly and vividly. The prose is an enigmatic slice of life that is uniquely his. The prolific writing habits that Stevie possesses make many a writer, myself included, jealous of his tenacity for attacking each morsel of life’s daily grind. Sometimes making fun or a mockery of the little things or at other times taking a challenging stand against the most critical and important issues facing us today. This is the poetic style he embodies for the rest of us to enjoy.
As Stevie’s doctor I engage him in a manner differently than any of his other relationships. That perspective allows me to see him from many perspectives from healthcare professional all the way quite frankly to a personal friend. Over the span of several years in that regard I saw his transition from Christian songwriter to poet and the dynamics involved in that change. Not only has there been a growth and learning phase to his abilities to put pen to paper, but Stevie’s life and writing is a fantastic journey of love and emotion.
This is now his seventh book and perhaps his deepest and most mature work. At each phase of his writing career his personal state of being comes across in every word. This book is no different with a certain brooding and darker more forceful stance on life yet continuously instilled with his hometown old Orange slant. Stevie rarely leaves us questioning what he is feeling or where he is going, but he does make us question our personal relationships and dealings with others. Of course there is often a push for us to be politically and socially responsible, too, whether by way of rantings and ravings or a push to be heard and accountable.
I think Stevie’s writing will take another turn soon as he takes us elsewhere in the land of feelings and prose. There is no harm in that. And, for the enjoyment we each derive from that, and the clear good nature and good will of Stevie’s contribution to our wonderful world that spot in heaven is reserved. Not too soon of course so that we might read these little snippets of life and love and Grandma and whomever else man or beast or machine happens to be captured by the flowing inks and pencils of one fine man: Mr. Steven Curtis Lance.
A Working Theory of Poetics Expressed in Quotations of the Wise
"Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind." - Henry James (1843-1916) American Author
"When kindness has left people, even for a few moments, we become afraid of them as if their reason had left them. When it has left a place where we have always found it, it is like shipwreck; we drop from security into something malevolent and bottomless." - Willa Sibert Cather (1873-1947) American Novelist
"Love is what we were born with. Fear is what we learned here." - Marianne Williamson (1952~) American Author, Lecturer
"Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything that is beautiful; for beauty is God's handwriting - a wayside sacrament. Welcome it in every fair face, in every fair sky, in every fair flower, and thank God for it as a cup of blessing." - Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American Poet, Essayist
"If you want to be happy, be." - Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) [Count Lev Tolstoi] Russian Novelist, Moral Philosopher, Mystic
"Human kindness has never weakened the stamina nor softened the fibre of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough." - Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) 32nd U.S. President (1933-45)
"An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered." - Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936) English Essayist, Novelist, Journalist, Poet
"I set myself on fire and people come to watch me burn." - John Wesley (1703-1791) English Preacher, Founder of Methodism
"Everybody wants to be somebody; nobody wants to grow." - Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe (1749-1832) German Poet, Dramatist, Novelist
"Crimes of which a people is ashamed constitute its real history. The same is true of man." - Jean Genet (1910-1986) French Playwright, Novelist
"Let everyone sweep in front of his own door, and the whole world will be clean." - Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe (1749-1832) German Poet, Dramatist, Novelist
"Whereas it has long been known and declared that the poor have no right to the property of the rich, I wish it also to be known and declared that the rich have no right to the property of the poor." - John Ruskin (1819-1900) English Writer, Art Critic
"If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich." - John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1917-1963) 35th U.S. President (1961-63)
"Some of us might find happiness if we would quit struggling so desperately for it." - William Feather (1889-1981) American Publisher, Author
"The effort to understand the universe is one of the very few things that lifts human life a little above the level of farce, and gives it some of the grace of tragedy." - Steven Weinberg (1933~) American Nuclear Physicist
"Fiction reveals truth that reality obscures." - Jessamyn West (1902-1984) American Author
"There is no reality, but the one contained within." - Hermann Hesse (1877-1962) German-born Swiss Novelist, Poet
"The power of Thought, the magic of the Mind!" - Lord Byron (1788-1824) [George Gordon] English Poet
"If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun." - Katherine Hepburn (1907~) American Actor, Writer
"There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed." - Ernest Hemingway (1898-1961) American Writer
"Begin somewhere. You cannot build a reputation on what you intend to do." - Liz Smith (1923~) American Entertainment Journalist
"I'm not a teacher, but an awakener." - Robert Frost (1875-1963) American Poet
"If we discovered that we had only five minutes left to say all that we wanted to say, every telephone booth would be occupied by people calling other people to stammer that they loved them." - Christopher Darlington Morley (1890-1957) American Author, Journalist
"Love conquers everything [Amor vincit omnia]: let us, too, yield to love." - Virgil (70-19BC) [Publius Virgilius Maro Vergil] Roman Epic Poet
"True love is like ghosts, which everyone talks about and few have seen. [Maxims]" - Francois De La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French Classical Writer, Moralist
"The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough." - Sir Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) Bengali Poet, Novelist, Composer
"Time is the substance from which I am made. Time is a river which carries me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger that devours me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire that consumes me, but I am the fire." - Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) Argentinean Author
"Time goes, you say? Ah, no! Alas, Time stays, we go." - Austin Dobson (1840-1921) English Author
"For after all, the best thing one can do when it is raining is to let it rain." - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) American Poet
"Wisdom begins in wonder." - Socrates (469-399BC) Greek Philosopher of Athens
"Nothing that is God's is obtainable by money." - Tertullian (160-240) Roman Christian Author, Polemicist
"Of course, it all depends upon what we are praying for. If we are whimpering, and sniveling, and begging to be spared the discipline of life that is sent to knock some smatterings of manhood into us, the answer to that prayer may never come at all. Thank God! - If you are not bleating to get off, but asking to be given grace and strength to see this through with honour, 'the very day' you pray that prayer, the answer always comes." - A. J. Gossip (1873-1954) Scottish Theologian, Preacher
"The World is not dangerous because of those who do harm but because of those who look at it without doing anything." - Albert Einstein (1879-1955) German-born American Physicist
"It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself." - Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American Poet, Essayist
"Critics are those who have failed in literature and art." - Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881) English Statesman, Author, Prime Minister (1868, 1874-80)
"A bad review is even less important than whether it is raining in Patagonia." - Iris Murdoch (1919-1999) British Novelist, Philosopher
"You get ideas from daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored. You get ideas all the time. The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we're doing it." - Neil Richard Gaiman (1960~) British Author
"There is certainly no absolute standard of beauty. That precisely is what makes its pursuit so interesting." - John Kenneth Galbraith (1908~) Canadian-American Economist, Diplomat, Author
"The profession of book-writing makes horse racing seem like a solid, stable business." - John Steinbeck (1902-1968) American Author
"In Dr. Johnson's famous dictionary, 'patriotism' is defined as the last resort of the scoundrel. With all due respect to an enlightened but inferior lexicographer, I beg to submit that it is the first." - Ambrose Bierce (1842-1913) American Author, Editor, Journalist
"As the archer whittles and makes straight his arrows, so the master directs his straying thoughts." - Buddha (568-488BC) Indian Mystic, Philosopher, Founder of Buddhism
"All grand thoughts come from the heart." - Marquis De Vauvenargues (1715-1747) French Soldier, Moralist
"Make me immortal with a kiss." - Christopher Marlowe (1565-1593) English Dramatist, Poet
"Remember tonight, for it is the beginning of always." - Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) Italian Epic Poet, Philosopher
Selected Poems of Steven Curtis Lance
These are Steven's poetry pages at BrainMeta.com, where he has been Poet in Residence for over a decade.
+Steven Curtis Lance on Facebook
Become Steven's Facebook friend and be a part of a mindful community.
The Secret Place
This is Steven's personal poetry board at BrainMeta.com, where he is Poet in Residence. He likes to call this place "my treehouse." Come visit him here, and while you're on the site, check out his main poetry posting board as well. He would be honored if you would join the forum and post your poetry here.
The Books of +Steven Curtis Lance
Browse the books here.