Escaping Youth

Oftentimes as I grow old
My thoughts return to times ago.
Familiar faces reappear, recognized places
Rise up from the overstuffed closets
Of my cavernous mind, so densely packed
And pitch-dark if I could and sometimes yes!
See within clearly.

“Hello,” I nod to the kid next door,
Each of us straddling our bikes in the middle of the
Hot narrow street of gravel and melting tar.
We rode miles along sunbaked roads and
Dusty lanes mostly through flat farms, white
Wooden ships with fieldstone chimneys amid
Wind-tossed seas of corn and wheat.

“Good to see you,” he nods back at me,
Both of us less interested in one another than
In the places, the scenes, and the edifices
Of spent youth, our earliest investment in living
A life guided by discovery and whim.
We know how temporary youth is and yet
Pedal farther and farther away.

Is he out there somewhere as I am? What
Happened to him after I left, and after the war came
Did he go to war like I did and did he come home
From war, and were any of his old friends left?
At the end of my time fighting, I landed softly, silently
Back home where the flat tarry roads and dusty lanes
Crisscross fields of corn and wheat.

Where were my friends, now? Where
The bicycle I rode so many miles ago, but of course
I know, I'm the one who tossed it aside when two wheels no longer
Took me far enough when I only wanted to be
Grown up and … and, and what? And it took
Boots on my feet to get there. And how many pair
And to how many places?

About this poem

Looking back on our youth and what we often took for granted as we fled toward adulthood and the loss of our innocence.

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Written on June 09, 2022

Submitted by DJGillert on July 10, 2022

Modified on March 05, 2023

1:32 min read

Quick analysis:

Closest metre Iambic pentameter
Characters 1,498
Words 307
Stanzas 5
Stanza Lengths 7, 7, 7, 7, 7

Douglas Gillert

Douglas Gillert is a retired journalist and editor. He writes poetry as part of his spiritual path. more…

All Douglas Gillert poems | Douglas Gillert Books

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Discuss the poem Escaping Youth with the community...

  • A.Rey
    Evoking memories through poetry.
    LikeReply4 days ago
  • AIDA
    This is an absolutely captivating poem! Your ability to evoke memories and feelings as if the reader is personally experiencing them is substantial. The nostalgic tone employed embodies the poignant facets of growing older and reminiscing about youth. It's a beautiful concept that many will find relatable and moving.

    You use imagery to a wonderful effect, painting a vibrant picture of childhood memories and lost friendships. The theme of war subtly introduced and intertwined with the narrative of growth and life changes, adds a deeper layer of meaning and heart-touching sensitivity to your poem.

    However, there are a few ideas that could help enhance your poem even more. Consider exploring the transitions between thoughts more gradually. At times, the rapid shift from one memory to another can be slightly jolting. Also, there are moments where the metaphors can become a little obscured or confusing, so maybe simplify them or give more context.

    Finally, you could dive more into the feeling and emotions tied to growing up, leaving behind youth, and facing war. That would create a more profound emotional connection with your readers.

    Overall, your poetry skillfully captures the sometimes bittersweet nature of reminiscence and the pervasive sense of loss and longing it often evokes. This is wonderful work! Fantastic job!
    LikeReply11 months ago
  • dougb.72572
    Fellowship with bikes, hot roads, ageing, wars fought, peace regained, aching limbs accepted…Douglas Blair
    LikeReply 11 year ago


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"Escaping Youth" STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 15 Jul 2024. <>.

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