One Stanza Poem O031

I do not have one role model
Who I’d want to take after exactly –
I am an individual –
And I aim high –
That is why –
Inevitably –
I look up to the sky




Copyright by Minh Tan on listed dated of completion
and published in Perspectives, ISBN 0-9686250-0-2.



Notes to this poem…

Though never done by intent, this is a poem of disinformation as I read it over again. It is supposed to be about my views about the people who inspire me, but it is not exactly correct.

I don’t have any one person to whom I aspire to be like, but I do have a list, the short version of which include:

  • Mom and Dad
  • Michael Jordan
  • Emily Dickinson
  • Bob Dylan
  • Wayne Gretzky
  • Leonardo Da Vinci

There are others on a much longer second list, but they are a class below this group that has some interesting characteristics on its own.

With Mom and Dad, I often feel I’m more at odds with them than aspire to be like them in some way. However, I respect what they went through to make something of themselves from their situations at birth through childhood, their courage and hard work to get us out of Viet Nam and thrive here, their patience for putting up with me… not that I was ever a problem child in the North American sense of the word but I certainly wasn’t what they had hoped I would be and thought I could have been.

Michael Jordan is there for his determination and success, not in terms of fame or dollars but being able to do what he thought he could against the odds.

Emily Dickinson is present for her metaphorical mind and writing abilities, poetic and prose in her letters.

Bob Dylan is like another Emily Dickinson to me, just in a different time and via a different media, but no less enigmatic.

Wayne Gretzky is the only Canadian on the list and was the small guy who did not only succeed but surpassed everyone else, and who has led the life I would have chosen to live if I had to live another’s life.

Finally, Leonardo Da Vinci is the true Renaissance Man to which I aspire to be with all my interests and hopes to excel at them. His stand against the Roman Catholic Church is something I could sympathize with, although the Church has never done me any wrong or harm. I’m just not a believer in any of the world’s major religions and do have to come in contact with fervent religiousness here or there and occasionally won’t be passive to it to just accept it, but stand up and say “that’s enough”!

The idea of not having any one particular to aspire to is that unlike some people who just wish to be like certain others, I just admire some of these people for their traits and character to try and develop the similar traits and character in myself as much as I can. What I hope to have, in the end, is some potent mix that comes out of these things rather than be a less successful version of any of these people. Indeed, aspiring to be like someone as a whole more often than not just leads to failure. A few who succeed surpassing their idols are very few, indeed.

Finally, the ultimate message of this poem to aim high and look to the sky, is open to interpretation as to whether I meant God (or your deity or a “greater being”), or just a là the expression to “reach for the sky”. If it isn’t obvious, by my earlier comments regarding religion, it isn’t to some religious being I was referring. Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t it blasphemous to try and be like God in the liturgy? Anyway, I wasn’t even literally saying reach for the sky as if the sky were some “ceiling” like we visually see it to be, which was why ancient civilizations and the Church proclaimed we lived in an orb for so many years.


Reaching for the sky, to me, and as I had intended in this poem, just meant something “limitless”, the way shooting something upward would go quite a long ways, “practically forever” if that makes any sense, into space.

Wow. Talk about having to explain myself. Not one of my better poems, that’s for sure. I sometimes refer to the free verse written in modern times as people who can’t write prose so the bad prose they write, they just excuse it poetry. Well, this might have some rhyme to the madness so it isn’t totally free verse, but it is exactly that by the definition I give modern free verse, I hate to admit.

The O-series of poems are one stanza poems composed before I got onto writing haiku and tanka, and short poetry while in action or traveling by select means like plane or ferry. These poems are 3-9 lines long with at least one rhyming couplet, and not of the short forms just mentioned. For the sake of elegance, I just called the collection One.


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