Mostly About the Past

I posted a story yesterday on Kellie Elmore’s Free Write Friday. Her prompt suggested we take a look in the mirror and write about what we see. You can read the story by clicking on the title —> An Ordinary Guy. The poem I’m posting today on Gooseberry Garden’s Poetry Picnic #17 is a slightly different take on that look in the mirror.

Mostly About the Past

I suppose I’m as nostalgic as they come

I write stories and poems, mostly about the past

                  Feeling terribly inadequate and untalented

Accepting accolades and the occasional award

As polite kindness more than compliment

Asked recently to look into a mirror

Then tell what I saw looking back at me

I spoke of the multitude that molded me

Into the person I seem—or perhaps want—to be

                 A good person—I think—but I have my doubts

I refuse to look too long at the face in the mirror

I’ve never cared much for the look of the guy

                    And I don’t share many photos of him

Thinking most would agree with my assessment

That he’s certainly nothing special to look upon

Having been told it’s what’s inside that counts

And to look for the good in everyone

I do so with regard to the man looking back at me

I speak kindly of his past as well as his present state

          Gamely attempting to let the bad dogs slumber

I like to think he is still the shy little lad

The frightened new kid in class who talks funny

And yet I stare at this old man in the mirror

        No longer shy and only the slightest bit afraid

Wondering when the child within will die

Copyright © 2011 C. Mashburn


  1. I hope the child in him never dies, he is laughter, memories, where he was into who he is 🙂

    and I do think you deserve the awards! I love coming to your blog 🙂
    happy gooseberry day!!!

  2. Thank you for sharing these thoughts. So real and sounding of what so many would say if they were truthful about how they feel looking in the mirror.
    And thank you for sharing the photos. Somewhere, maybe a year or two ago, I realize that it is important to have these “old person” photos … not for us, but for others someday…I think it was the day I found a photo of my great grandmother and took it to the Kodak machine to see if I could see her face when I enlarged the photo…and I could !
    Also, I realize that photos that I thought were so terrible when I was younger, my perception has changed.
    Bottom line…thank you, thank you !
    Siggi in Downeast Maine

    • Thank you very much, Siggi. I am blessed to see how much my simple words have touched you. This is why I write.

  3. Heaven said

    Shy you are not. And I hope you keep that child alive and free within yourself… Thanks for the heartfelt poem ~

  4. thoughtsnotlost said

    Great job, a piece I could easily relate too!

  5. Hold on to the child within.

    Another excellent write my friend.

  6. zongrik said

    the child within should never die.

  7. Andy said

    I have come to know a fraction of you through your writings & I truly believe any/all accolades you receive are rightly deserved. My dear Charles, there will always remain a little of the child in all of us. It’s what makes you, us unique.
    I appreciate your honesty & sincerity in this post & “An Ordinary Guy”.
    Thanks for sharing, my friend.

    For ref:
    On This Orange-Hued Day

    • Agaain, Andy, thank you for the kind and thoguhtful comments. They are truly appreciated!

  8. booguloo said

    This is another nice piece. Thanks for the visits and comments to my blog.

  9. Morning said

    what a lovely comparison and contrast,

    similar faces, you have grown stronger and more handsome.

  10. terri0729 said

    I say never, Charlie! I always want to retain that little girl in my pictures, that way I can sit and color with my grandkids just like my grandma did with me. Acting silly so they will laugh like crazy and then when I am gone they can say to each other, :”You remember when grandma did….” That’s the good stuff :)! Blessings, Terri

    • Yes’m. I’m the same way. But I do often wonder if there will come a time when the child inside me no longer is there. You know; is there an age when the switch is flipped, and we’re just old?
      Thanks for the greaat comments!

  11. Dennis Go said

    I relate to this very well. Just don’t let the child within die.

    • If it’s left up to me, the child will always live within me.
      Thanks, Dennis!

  12. Becky said

    Are you shy? 🙂
    That little boy (or girl) in all of us should never die. Something rather innocent about holding onto that kid.
    Nicely done.

    • Not anymore! But when I was little, I was terribly shy.
      I agree, and I think the child within never truly dies. I think it is a part of how we are made.
      Thanks for the great comments, Becky!

  13. Hey Charles! THis is really wonderful piece! Great knowing you! Quite a lesson for those of us young! 🙂

  14. You look still young and fresh btw! lol am just saying relatively speaking … 🙂 What’s most important is to remain young at heart!! And you are it!

  15. A wonderful write–real and personal. The best poetry is when we tell our story, the truth, however abstract and poetic that may be. You are fine poet. Do not sell yourself short. Look forward to reading more of your work when possible.

    • Thank you, Emmett. As an admirer of your work, your comments are very meaningful to me.

  16. Natalie said


  17. The child within will only die when the man himself does. I think the man made a success with his life and the child should be proud of who he became through all the painful life lessons.
    Very deep and honest.

  18. Don’t you think poetry is a great way to entertain the little guy in there? I’m sure he has a hand in it. Keep him alive! (I’d say there may be a bit of mischief in the man–just a guess).

    • I think he writes most of it! Mischif? I cain’t even spell mischiff!
      Thanks for the comments, Victoria!

  19. I hope the child within never dies. What a wonderful entry for the Poetry Picnic by The Gooseberry Garden

  20. Zoe said

    I agree with Chevrefeuille – that was my heart’s instant cry.
    But then I realise – How can that child die, when the man is so filled with grace and care for those around him. 🙂
    I love the fragile hope and honesty in this piece. For the record, I am thankful for when our paths cross – your poetry always gives me a lift, helps me remember the good things in life. And your comments always bless me. Interestingly, I have been having a similar struggle to the one you describe – I am planning on an answer to it for next week’s Gooseberry Garden. 🙂

  21. neinei said

    Oh how sweet… I enjoyed reading it….


  22. Nice thoughts. Showing some vulnerability is an endearing quality.

  23. Raivenne said

    Marvelous write, Charles. You are too vibrant a person to let that part of you go. Your post are proof your inner child will always have a voice in your life.

    • I believe you are correct, Raivenne. I couldn’t get rid of the little scoundrel if I tried!
      Thank you for the wonderful comments. You get the “made-my-day” button today!

  24. Usha Dawn said

    Very cute way of expressions and full of life’s truth…my prayers that the child never dies ….amen 🙂
    Keep writing….
    Cheers 🙂

  25. Rohit said

    intriguing read..thoughful ,deep and profound.
    loved the line ‘A good person—I think—but I have my doubts!’
    keep writing..i’ll love to read from u..
    this one was a nostalgiac post(my latest post is too based on nostalgia)
    stay connected 🙂

  26. Charles, never let that child die…and I don’t think you will for you carry that child high up on your shoulders. “Mostly About the Past” is now one of my favorite poems of all time. Masterful!
    Mark Butkus

    • Wow, Mark! What awesome comments! You get my second “made-my-day” button for today! Thank you very much!

  27. rekha said

    Awesome writing straight from the heart as always…The child within makes the journey and vagaries worthwhile….may he never die.

  28. Really nice poem there. The imagery and the photos all gel in so beautifully! 🙂 And yes, I have deleted your earlier comment on my poem as you asked, don’t worry.

    • Thank you very much for removing the link on my comment, Kiran.
      And a big thank for the comment on my post. Very much appreciated!

  29. mairmusic said

    never, please– our inner child is our link to our original genius.

    • Well, hey! If that’s true, I’m smarter than I thunk I was!
      Thanks for the visit and comments!

  30. clariice said

    The child in us will never die. I really enjoy your piece – about self doubt yet still wanting to believe. I am certain many of us feel the same way but to be able to deliver in a skilful yet touching manner, I am sure not many can do that.

    Keep going with the poetry, well done!

  31. shail said

    It is what is inside that matters, not what we see in the mirror. I loved your take on what you saw in the mirror though 🙂

  32. David King said

    I’m a glutton for nostalgia, too. I too look in the mirror and like not what I see, and I can recall in my youth writing myself off completely, but I think you sell yourself short. Someone who can write as well as you do must have a hell of a lot going for him. I wish I could advise a something or other, but I can’t. I can’t even remember how I managed to come out of the doldrums. All power to you.

    • I’m not really in those doldrums, David. They do come and go–I think this to be true with most people–and when they do, I try to capture them in verse or story form. Thank you very much for the compliment regarding my writing. I’m awarding you the first “Made-my-day” button for this wonderful Wednesday!

  33. Madeleine said

    That is so beautiful. I love the progression as the story unfolds in your poem right to the punchline.

  34. caridwen said

    “I suppose I’m as nostalgic as they come

    I write stories and poems, mostly about the past

    Feeling terribly inadequate and untalented

    Accepting accolades and the occasional award

    As polite kindness more than compliment”

    God(dess)(e)(s), how true this is! You really hit the nail, Charles. thank you for this offering!

  35. superbly written !!
    when we look in the past.. sometimes it feels good n opposite can also happen 😛

    loved the way u expressed it.
    Thanks 4 visiting me charles 🙂

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