Starting High School

Grace Slick today at 75.
Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane 1967
Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane 1967

Starting High School

In San Francisco, it’s the summer of love,
Long haired hippies, peace signs and doves.
In Viet-Nam the soldiers are dying,
Back home their families are crying,
And Sergeant Pepper taught the band to play.

Jim wants to “Light My Fire,”
While Grace’s rabbit only flies higher.
The evening news shows the war isn’t cool,
This week I started high school,
And “All You Need Is Love” is what The Beatles say.

Written by Jimmie A. Kepler
Schertz, Texas, August 1967

The photos are of Grace Slick. She is an alumna of Finch College where she majored in art. She is an accomplished artist. The artwork is hers.

Note: This is the oldest poem I have written by me. It was in notebooks and papers my mother gave me a few months before she passed away in 2014. Aren’t parents good about keeping things and then later in life returning them?

I wrote this poem as a freshman at Samuel Clemens High School in Schertz, Texas. It was just outside the main gate at Randolph Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas.

Impressing my English teacher was challenging. The assignment was to write a paper on “What I did on my summer vacation.” Instead, I wrote about what was happening in popular culture. Instead of prose, I wrote a poem.

She called me a “beatnik poet weirdo.” I viewed her insult as a compliment! I gave in writing five pages of drivel avoiding a grade of “F” on the assignment.

The poem is included in the book “Gone Electric: A Poetry Collection” available on Kindle from Amazon.

Bob Dylan Awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature

bob_dylan_-_azkena_rock_festival_2010_2The singer and songwriter Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature on today for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition,” in the words of the Swedish Academy. He is the first American to win since the novelist Toni Morrison, in 1993.

In a 2013 Op-Ed Essay in the New York Times Bill Wyman wrote, “Mr. Dylan’s work remains utterly lacking in conventionality, moral sleight of hand, pop pabulum or sops to his audience. His lyricism is exquisite; his concerns and subjects are demonstrably timeless, and few poets of any era have seen their work bear more influence.”

Below is my poem, “Gone Electric.” It is a poetic tribute to Bob Dylan. It includes one line “And played the greatest poet – lyricist ever seen.” Today’s award kind of validates my point of view. The poem is my most viewed poem and second most viewed post on my blog with over 2,000 views a day.

If Dylan were sitting with me I could help but ask, “How does it feel?” to win the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Gone Electric

Our music choice back then was known as folk
the surgeon general told us not to smoke
Acoustic was our favorite sound
In Washington, D.C. The Beatles played in the round

We cried when JFK was assassinated that November day
and why the Vietnam War we asked LBJ
The Newport Folk Festival was going strong
And Bob Dylan wrote our favorite song

On television we all got Lost in Space
And Ryan O’Neil made hearts throb on Payton Place
Back in ’65 three girls sang with a sound which was Supreme
And played the greatest poet – lyricist ever seen

And the times were a changing because of him
Playboy Playmate Sara Lownds was his wife, young and trim
She gave him three sons and a beautiful little girl
Some before, some after the tour that rocked the world

His acoustic half-set sounded the same
the electric-half critics called a shame
and his music still changed the world
Even as shouts of Judas started to swirl

They hated him at the Royal Albert Hall
and were glad when he took that horrible fall
some thought after his motorcycle accident
That his life and career were totally spent.

Eight years before he toured the world again,
He wouldn’t let the critics boss him with their poison pen
And his music never really would change
Though his voice now shows age’s strain

To the arenas, stadiums, and theaters we still all come
and he sings putting the sunshine:  in our lives glum
Just Like a Woman, Mr. Tambourine Man and Desolation Row
Then with Like a Rolling Stone he closes the show.

Jimmie Aaron Kepler
© 2011

Originally published in:
WORDS..RHYMES..POETRY & PROSE! as  Electric Dylan
“Gone Electric” is the title poem in “Gone Electric: A Poetry Collection” available on Amazon.

Photo Credit: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.
Description: Bob Dylan, onstage in Victoria-Gasteiz, at the Azkena Rock Festival.
Date 26 June 2010, 21:14
Source Bob Dylan
Author Alberto Cabello from Vitoria Gasteiz.


Jimmie Aaron Kepler’s work has appeared in six different Lifeway Christian publications as well as The Baptist Program, The Baptist Standard (ghostwriter), Thinking About Suicide.com, Poetry & Prose Magazine, vox poetica, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Bewildering Stories, Beyond Imagination Literary Magazine, WORDS..RHYMES..POETRY & PROSE, and more. His novels The Rebuilder and Miss Sarah’s Secret as well as Charlie’s Bells: A Short Story Anthology and the award-winning short story The Cup, and the short stories Invasion of the Prairie Dogs, Miracle at the Gibson Farm: A Christmas Story, The Paintings and poetry collection Gone Electric: A Poetry Collection are available on Amazon.com.


Available on Amazon

I am a Military Brat

Pease Air Force Base at Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The picture was taken in the May 1966 from the balcony of the operations building. I was in the 7th grade. There is one KC-135 and six B-52s on the runway.
Pease Air Force Base at Portsmouth, New Hampshire. There is one KC-135 and six B-52s on the runway. The picture was taken in the May 1966 from the balcony of the operations building. I was in the 7th grade. I lived on Pease AFB from February 1966 to May 1967 and was in the 7th and 8th grades while we lived there.

What is a military brat? A military brat is the son or daughter of an airman, marine, sailor, or soldier. These children of career military have common characteristics. They grew up in a community of service. Sacrificing for the greater good is part of their character. They moved on average once every three years to a new state, region, or country.

Academic studies show military brats lack racism.1 They are the only color blind group in the USA. They are the most open-minded of any subgroup in the world. They are more tolerant and embrace diversity with respect for others better than their civilian counterparts to include those raised in liberal homes. They are equally respectful and tolerant of conservative, moderate and liberal points of view.2

They adapt to change and new situations better than any group in the United States. 2

They are socially independent. They do well in personal relationships. They put the needs of the other people ahead of their own needs.

Military brats who grew up as military dependents particularly in the late 1940s to early 1970s are kinder, caring, and more loyal than their raised as civilian children counterparts. They were higher achievers academically and professionally make the best employees due to characteristics like self-discipline, self-starter, flexibility, and their personal fiscal responsibility. 2

Most military brats do not have a real home town.2 Most do not know their cousins, aunts and uncles or grandparents very well. Many, including me, do not trust the governments of North Korea, Russia and China.

The word brat is not derogatory. It stands for:

B – Born

R – Raised

A – And

T – Trained1

I’m a military brat. My father served in the United States Army, United States Army Air Force and the United States Air Force (USAF). He retired from the USAF.

I am also a former United States Army officer. Growing up as a military brat helped prepare me for my service. It was all natural and comfortable to me. I felt it was where I belonged more than anyplace else in my life.

1 http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=military%20brat

2 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_brat_(U.S._subculture)

Exciting and Sad

Bewildering StoriesI live in the Dallas Fort Worth metropolitan area of north Texas. The area includes 12 counties, over 9,000 square miles (larger than the states of Rhode Island and Connecticut combined), with just fewer than 7,000,000 million people, it is the fourth largest metro area in the USA. Only the New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago metro areas are larger. It’s big!

The blast furnace has returned to north Texas. After a week of overnight lows in the lower 60s I awoke to 77 degrees at 5 AM. Ugh, that is hot. Heat is on the schedule the rest if the month. It is August, so we should have highs around 100 and low temperatures around 80.

The last week has been exciting and sad. Let us look at the sad first. Another of my high school classmates passed away. Her name was Deborah. She went in for routine surgery on August 13. There were complications. She died on August 15. She was a sweetie. She loved her children and grandchildren. Her funeral was Monday August 19.

On Sunday evening I found out my friend Christy (Judy) had passed away from pneumonia. I had only known her eight years. I met her through Yahoo 360 and then became friends through Multiply. She was only a couple of years older than me. When I worked in Los Angeles last summer she was a great help. She told me which places to see, visit (like the bookstores), and I even made my way out to Simi Valley.

The exciting is I had a short story come out this week in Bewildering Stories. While it has been over thirty years since I had my first writing sale, I still get excited seeing my by-line and reading my articles and stories. You can check it out by clicking HERE.

The Muse, Transformational Grammar, and Writing

Example of Transformational Grammar
Example of Transformational Grammar

Have you ever had a muse, or a muse-like experience where you felt so passionate, or “taken over” by a creative spirit or compulsion to express and create? This is more than just “in the zone” … it’s almost as if someone or something takes over and writes for you.

Four examples of a muse in my life are shared below.

One – I was taking a senior level English course with the ominous title “Transformational Grammar and Advanced Creative Writing”. The course was exactly as the title … a writing class that made sure you dissected the grammar. Remember diagramming sentences? This was far more interesting as it dismembered each sentence to parts of speech, syllables, suffixes/prefixes and even lower in structure. You could get credit for the class as a senior level English or Linguistics course. The professor was my first muse. She believed in and encouraged my writing. She was the first to point out the value of reading regularly, journaling, and submitting what you wrote. She helped get me published the first time in a university publication and then a historical article in a military magazine. She told me I should embrace a bohemian lifestyle and write full-time. She turned me on to Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez, Sylvia Plath, Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, and Jack Kerouac.

Two – I was motivated to the point of being driven – me driven, can you imagine? Anyway, I wanted to get into a doctoral program and needed to start getting published in my chosen discipline – religious education. I went to the right conferences, met the right people, and paid the price. This wasn’t a once and done thing. It was getting one then two then three then four then five then six a year published. Sheer vanity … I wrote some very good articles like “What I Learned when a Church Member Died”, an article about preaching my first funeral and the shortcomings of the religious education curriculum to prepare the associate minister in this critical area is an example.

Three – Nancy Karen Vandiver Garrison … I know her from high school. We also went to the same university. We did prose interpretation and literary criticism together in University Interscholastic League competition way back 45 years ago. Thanks to social media and email we converse almost every day for years and still do, as recently as in the last few seconds. She holds me accountable to keep on writing and never give up. More than anything, she encourages me to not give up or listen to the rejections. She also says what’s next when I get an acceptance. She is a darn good poet and supporter of the arts. Plus, we both love The Monkees!

Four – In 1992, I wrote 275 pages in one night for a nonfiction book I was working on. The damn broke, and it just flowed. I was on prescriptions that powered my writing. I was taking Seldane. Remember it? It  wasthe first non-sedating antihistamine. It was later taken off the market in 1998. It fueled me as it is about 80% amphetamine. It taken with Celebrex we now know were causes of my first TIA (commonly known as a mini-stroke) as per the cardiologist and neurologist. I have had some 50 to 75 page experiences in writing that happen the same way without drugs to energize me. Sometimes the poems bounce around in my head and won’t quit talking until I relocate them to paper. It can be very surreal. I’ve had several magazine articles I wrote that I have sold to publications like Children’s Leadership and Preschool Leadership that just flowed almost perfectly.

I find the muse magically appears when I put my behind in the chair and write.

Background on Muses: The Muses, the personification of knowledge and the arts, especially literature, dance and music, are the nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne (memory personified). Hesiod’s account and description of the Muses was the one generally followed by the writers of antiquity. It was not until Roman times that the following functions were assigned to them, and even then there was some variation in both their names and their attributes:
• Calliope -epic poetry;
• Clio -history;
• Euterpe -flutes and lyric poetry;
• Thalia -comedy and pastoral poetry;
• Melpomene -tragedy;
• Terpsichore -dance;
• Erato -love poetry;
• Polyhymnia -sacred poetry;
• Urania -astronomy.

Short Story: Prairie Dogs’ Helmets

I was notified this week my 5900 word short story “Prairie Dogs’ Helmets” received final acceptance from “Bewildering Stories”. It is on their publication schedule.

Not a Gentleman’s War – An Inside View of Junior Officers in the Vietnam War

“Not a Gentleman’s War: An Inside View of Junior Officers in the Vietnam War” is the story of the 5,069 junior officers who died in Vietnam as well as the ones who survived. We are reminded all officers had volunteered to lead men in battle. Based on Ron Milam’s detailed and thorough research, “Not a Gentleman’s War: An Inside View of Junior Officers in the Vietnam War” gives an excellent analysis of these men. The author has the rare combination of scholarly research and with an easy reading text. The book is divided into two main parts.

Part one views the future officers and officers in the United States. It examines their officer training programs: West Point, Officer Candidate School (OCS), and Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC). The selection, training, and evaluation process of each is explained in detail. We see how the army ramped up for the increased demand in officers. We feel the arrogance of the West Point educated toward the Infantry Officer Basic Course and the slow change of curriculum at the United States Military Academy. We learn that the majority of officers were commissioned through ROTC. We find out the selection standards were not lowered for OCS. We are reminded that changing views on campus impacted the world views of men commissioned through ROTC.

Part two has the young officer in Vietnam. The four chapters in this section examine the junior officer’s performance as combat leaders. We experience the life and death tests they faced. We confront the myths about the men. We experience the different leadership challenges of being on a mission in the field and being in a firebase or in garrison such as preventing alcohol and drug abuse as well as racial tensions.

Myths about the Vietnam War say the junior officer was a no-talent, inadequately trained, and unenthusiastic soldier. Lt. William Calley of My Lai often is held up as the typical junior officer baby killer. Ron Milam debunks this view with detailed research including oral histories, after-action reports, diaries, letters, and other records.

The author has excellent primary resource materials. He clearly shows that most of the lieutenants who served in combat performed their duties well. The junior officers were effective. They served with great skill. While they were not always clean shaven and often had mud on their boots, they were dedicated and committed to the men they led. Ron Milam’s story provides a vibrant, you-are-there portrayal of what the platoon leader faced and his ability to meet the challenges as documented by field reports and evaluations of their superior officers.

This is a book that all students of the Vietnam War should read. I encourage all military officers to read the book as well. “Not a Gentleman’s War: An Inside View of Junior Officers in the Vietnam War” should be in every college library in the world. Ron Milam has written an excellent book. Dr. Milam is assistant professor of military history at Texas tech University.

On a personal level, the book helped me better understand my own experience as an United States Army officer. I received my officer training and commission through the United States Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) between 1971 and 1975. Some of the training I received was based on decisions explained in the book.