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October 12, 2012

Poetry Friday--"With a Bang and a Flash"

A few weeks ago I explored newspapers from 1949 and wrote briefly about a puzzle that appeared in the Hamilton Daily News Journal (OH) on September 22, 1949. On the same page was a huge ad from King's Cut Rate [drug store]. I picked out a few items of interest in case you have trouble reading the ad:
J. & J. Bandaid Tin of 36     29¢
Welch's Grape Juice Pint Bottle     22¢
50¢ Value Aspirin Tablets Bottle of 100     7¢
Electric Heating Pad     $2.98
Save Money on Sanitary Protection Box of 48 Modess     Now Only $1.27
Lilly's Insulin U40--10CC     $1.26
Squibb's B Complex Tablets 100's     $3.19
Buck Rogers Atomic Pistol: Shoots With a Bang and a Flash     59¢
The Buck Rogers Atomic Pistol tickled me and I wanted to write a poem about it. Ultimately, what I wrote didn't tickle me, as an idea sometimes gets away and takes on a mind of its own.
Buck Rogers Atomic Pistol: Shoots
With a Bang and a Flash (1949 ad copy)


On Jim's ninth birthday
his Grandpa bought him
a Buck Rogers Atomic Pistol.
Jim was the envy of all
the gang at the playground.

Little by little Jim changed
the rules of war. Finger guns
were dismissed as stupid.
He scoffed at their dirt bombs
and their sharpened sticks.

The mushroom cloud of all
their imaginations grew with
each threat of a bang and a flash.
Intimidation turned to domination,
turned at last to realization that

a bang and a flash were simply
a matter of percussion and friction.
False gods and friendship can
never co-exist. A choice had
to be made. Which would it be?

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

I'm in New Jersey for the Dodge Poetry Festival. I hope to give a report next week, so come back on Friday.

Now, head over to Teaching Young Writers for another fabulous Round-Up!


  1. It's so true that you don't always (or ever?) know what you're going to write until you've written it. I read your poem several times, and will read it some more. You packed a lot into twenty lines, Diane!

  2. I agree with Tabatha - those twenty lines say a whole lot of things and tell a good story. Did you expect your "bang and a flash" poem to be humorous, since the ad is pretty funny? I've had a few poems do that - funny in my head, a whole other animal on paper. Not better or worse, just different. :)

    What a great place to find inspiration, by the way!

    1. Not exactly humorous, but not depressing either. I find conflicts of power, especially for kids, to be particularly sad--and look how it ended up--it depressed me!

  3. Interesting how a poem starts out one way, then decides to take you in a completely different firection? Quite a strong voice here.

  4. Love how this poem tells a story on so many levels. I love how you started with an old ad too. Great idea! I am envious of you at the Dodge Poetry Festival. Enjoy every minuted!

  5. Thanks, everyone! I was at the Dodge Poetry Festival all day and I'll have lots to report next week. I bought, and had signed, a book by Eavan Boland. Expect to see more Boland poems in the near future. I've got SO MUCH to learn about writing poetry!

  6. Hi, Diane. What an amazing turn this poem took -- kudos to you for listening to the poem and not trying to keep it on the track it started out from. I'm missing the Dodge Festival for the first time since 1994. Have a great time!

  7. Sorry you're not here in Newark, Laura. I thought sure I 'd run into you at the Lucille Clifton tribute.

  8. I love how this started! What a neat place to draw inspiration and now you have inspired all of us with a unique poem.

  9. This ended up as a thought-provoking study of the "rules of war." Nice job!