By Josette Keelor
MIDDLETOWN -- Poet Jerry Rose writes about life. He writes of hope and loss, of love and tragedy.
"I write about things that I go through or things that other people go through," he said.
His first publishing experience fueled a poem of determination he said was the last to make his new book.
"I Will Succeed" recalls a moment of naivety when he answered a newspaper ad for poems to become songs. He remembered how a contract came in the mail from Nashville offering him a 50/50 investment.
"Man, I'm only 9 years old," he remembered telling them. "I have no money." The poems were never returned, and for all he knows they did become songs. But as a child with no knowledge of business, he felt helpless in stopping it happening.
"You learn in life how to make it in this world and in this business," he said.
Now 61, Rose of Middletown released his second book on April 29 and features poems he has been writing for much of his life.
"All of the poems in here are spiritual and uplifting to enjoy," he said.
"Poetry From the Heart of a Rose," published through Tate Publishing & Enterprises in Mustang, Oklahoma, was named for the flower, not for the man.
Section headings separate "Love Poems," "Spiritual Poems," "Poems of Sympathy" and "Variety of Poems," and they cover holidays, family and national events. They give readers the chance to grow through challenges Rose or others have experienced.
"To me, they all favorites," but he named the poem "I Love You Still" among the rest:
Under the heaven of our Lord,
This day has come for me and you
To begin our journey into a life,
That God will always see us through.
Rose, who published his first book of poetry as print on demand in 2005, started writing as a child in Orlando, Florida. He graduated from high school in Hurlock, Maryland, and Craven Community College in New Bern, North Carolina, before joining the Marines in 1974.
A squad leader in the MOS ground unit 0311, he sailed with the Navy to Rome, Greece, Turkey, Italy, France and Spain. In Africa he helped remove water mines from the Nile.
Recently he retired from 17 years as a formulator at Thermo Fisher Scientific in Middletown so he could focus on publishing and promoting his book.
"I wanted to live to see it come to reality," he said. "When God give you a gift, you should use it cause the next day, tomorrow, may be too late."
In the book, he's included historical events like a 21-day government shutdown under the Clinton administration from December 1995 to 1996 and the Million Man March to promote African-American unity and family values on Oct. 16. 1995. He has written about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Susan Smith, sentenced to life in prison for murdering her children in 1995. His poem, "Our Black African Men of America," is titled for the letters in President Obama's last name.
"It takes a lot," he said, finding strength through life's trials.
"If you fail, you don't stop. You get up and keep going. You keep on pushing. Don't give up on your dreams."
"I will succeed," his poem says, "because winners are losers to start."
Jerry Rose plans a signing of his book, "Poetry From the Heart of a Rose," at the Winchester Book Gallery from 2 to 4 p.m. on June 7. His book is available at tatepublishing.com, amazon.com and through any bookstore.
Contact Community Engagement Editor Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137, ext. 176, or firstname.lastname@example.org