Sunday, September 16, 2018

#30 Backstory of the Poem "The Risking Point" by Larry Jaffe . . .

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***This is the thirtieth in a never-ending series called BACKSTORY OF THE POEM where the Chris Rice Cooper Blog (CRC) focuses on one specific poem and how the poet wrote that specific poem.  All BACKSTORY OF THE POEM links are at the end of this piece. 

#30 Backstory of the Poem
“The Risking Point”
by Larry Jaffe

What is the most compelling poem of your chapbook poetry collection Don’t Take Candy From Strangers?   It is very difficult to separate out the poems one from the other. There is a cohesion between each, a flow that I am not sure how to violate and isolate a single poem. This book is a poem of
poems, each interrelating with the other. The book is thematic, that is, there is a process that takes the reader from one point to another. I have attempted to portray the victim of human trafficking, the perpetrator and the parent hopefully coming to the rescue. I have tried to put myself in each of their shoes. But there is one poem that seems to stand out from the rest.  The poem itself differs from my usual style in that it actually rhymes (something I never do).  I wanted the poem to feel more like a change.  So here you go. It is called The Risking Point. 

Can you go through the step-by-step process of writing this poem from the moment the idea was first conceived in your brain until final form?   I never conceive poems in my brain. My brain is a switchboard not an originator of ideas. I am a spiritual being not a brain. That said, I conceived of the poem towards the end of the book. I had already taken on the voice of victim and predator. 

Grooming is such an insidious activity, it is quite a painful process to transmute myself from personality to personality in order to grab the thoughts and attitude of each. I sit with tears cascading my face.  For your readers unfamiliar with the term of grooming I am inserting parts of my introduction to the book so that they have an understanding of what I am attempting to do with this compilation.

Introduction   I would like to warn you in advance that this book is different than any other poetry volume you have ever picked up. Perhaps it is different than any other book period. It dramatizes the seamier side of life. One that most people do not like to talk about. The subject is human trafficking and it is not something that happens way over there in another land. It is something that is happening in our communities, right this very instant. It is a scourge upon our society. Roughly speaking there are some 13 million children world-wide that are being or have been trafficked. Studies show that within 48 hours of a child running away from home they will be trafficked. But not all are runaways, some are enticed to meet their predator offline. 

We warn our children to not take candy from strangers. We tell them to run away if a stranger accosts them. Why don’t we do the same with online strangers? These predators are lurking and seducing our children. We need to educate them and make them aware of these dangers. Sex trafficking is big business and the bad guys are not choosey, they will take boys or girls.

Grooming, it almost sounds like a good thing, but it represents one of the most heinous crimes in the world. Like many words in our vocabulary that have been skewed and corrupted, grooming is one of them. In a process known as “grooming”, a sexual predator first identifies then gains access to a child by any means necessary. After identifying the victim, the predator then sets out to gain the child's trust, break down defenses, and sexually traffic them.

Unbeknownst to most of us this malicious breed of predators roams the internet trolling for our children. They hide in the shadows silently waiting for their prey. They are lawless seducers of the innocent waiting to pounce on the vulnerable and naïve. The purpose of this little volume is to bring to light these harbingers of evil and make parents, friends, teachers and relatives aware of this menace. It is time for us to come together, educate ourselves with these tools and prevent our children from being seduced into human trafficking.

This volume of poetry seemingly innocuous is a powerful tool for you, your family and your friends. It starts with innocence and takes you through the grooming process hitherto kept secret and provides vital information to break the shackles and bonds that deceive.

Something can be done about this situation. It is in your hands as a parent, aunt, uncle educator or community leader. It is up to us to educate ourselves and our children. It is important to note once again that within 48 hours of a child being on the street he or she will be trafficked. We can prevent that from happening. Read this book. Have your children read this book. I write this book to preserve the innocence of the young.

Where were you when you started to actually write the poem?  And please describe the place in great detail.   I was sitting at my desk in my studio. I hate calling it an office as I don’t want my place of creativity to be equated with commercial exploits. It is a studio, a writing studio. The walls are grey blue and my desk which seems to wrap around to infinity is white. The floor is slate. The ceiling is white. It is here where I work my words. (Left: Copyright permission granted by Larry Jaffe for this CRC Blog Post Only) 

What month and year did you start writing this poem?   The book and the poem were all written in the month of April of 2018. (Right:  Copyright permission granted by Larry Jaffe for this CRC Blog Post Only)

How many drafts of this poem did you write before going to the final? (And can you share a photograph of your rough drafts with pen markings on it?)   Hi, sorry, this I cannot do. I wrote it on the computer so there
are no rough drafts so to speak, only different versions of the poem. I probably went through about 5 or six iterations. I think of writing a poem much like a programmer designs software. There are different versions, and each is an upgrade of the earlier one. So in those terms, I would say you are reading The Risking Point Version 5. (Left:  Larry Jaffe attributed to Shelly Jaffe. Copyright permission granted by Larry and Shelly Jaffe for this CRC Blog Post Only)

Were there any lines in any of your rough drafts of this poem that were not in the final version?  And can you share them with us?   No not really, I mean there are lines that are different but I don’t write that way so it is difficult to accommodate what you are requesting. (Right:  Copyright attribution and permission granted by artbysheils at

What do you want readers of this poem to take from this poem? Well now, that is a very tough question yet an easy one to answer. I want the reader to walk away from the poem fully armed as a human being to help defeat human trafficking. The poem is a lesson in what to look for if a child is being groomed. I don’t want kids and parents to be subjected to this heinous crime because of their ignorance. I don’t want families to invite unwittingly, predators into their homes. This poem needs to penetrate the façade and provide not just hope but ammunition to defeat this enemy. (Left:  Copyright attribution and permission granted by Christal Ann Rice Cooper for this CRC Blog Post only)

Which part of the poem was the most emotional of you to write and why?   All of it! There is no way to separate out the stanzas and say one part was more emotional than the rest. The poem is pure emotion. The Risking Point out of necessity has to speak for itself and grab parents and kids by the throat and say… 
look this is the reality of what is really happening. This could happen to you. You must be vigilant! You must be caring and understanding! Parents cannot be loco parentis, they have to be real parents and take the time to create an aura of understanding even to rebellious teens. I would hate for a family to go through this because of negligence. This is reality folks, wake up… do something about it. (Left: copyright permission granted by Christal Ann Rice Cooper for this CRC Blog Post Only) 

Has this poem been published before?  And if so where?   No. Only in your hands, I am working on publishing the book.

Anything you would like to add?   Human trafficking is a most heinous crime. We really need to pull our heads out of the sand and realize there are some 40 million slaves worldwide, comprised of 27 million adults and 13 million children. The enslaving of children is increasing. We can put an end to it, if we realized what it is and what to do about it.

The Risking Point

At the start is where
to prevent the inevitable
be ever to watchful
and exhaust the unforgivable

If they stay out very late
you must parry
and as a parent
be very wary

Are they hanging with elders
who foster their care
do not let them
this is your dare

Do they come home
with gifts of affection
make sure you discover
who made the selection

Are they withdrawing
from family and friends
then a predator lurks
in their heart he pretends

Have they left school
or are their grades down
it is time for you as a parent
to do more than just frown

Is this the behavior
of the young and restless
or are they being groomed
and this is the process

Sexual exploits are not
limited by gender
all are fair prey
to this seditious offender

The risk is great
your response must be fine
be ever so vigilant
to prevent their decline


Larry Jaffe was born in the Bronx, in the shadows of Yankee Stadium. He slapped the doc and pinched the nurse much to his own delight and perhaps that of his parents, thus shaking the rafters of baby boomers one and all.  Jaffe heralds in a new era of neo-urban metrics.  His words defy gravity even when painted on walls. They are shadows written on the bunkers of evil. He lets no villain go unscathed. He is a new kind of poet, one that tramples on fame and mediocrity and holds the written work accountable for the
spoken. He is a poet of the people, a veritable folk-poet climbing out of the gutters of conformity, never to be constricted by the yokes of the plain and boring. He reaches for the golden ring and may miss but never ever stops reaching.
He uses his art primarily to promote human rights. His work has been translated into over a dozen languages. He was the poet-in-residence at the Autry Museum of
Western Heritage, a featured poet in Chrysler’s Spirit in the Words poetry program, co-founder of Poets for Peace (now Poets without Borders) and helped spearhead the United Nations Dialogue among Civilizations through Poetry project which incorporated hundreds of readings in hundreds of cities globally using the aesthetic power of poetry to bring understanding to the world. He was the recipient of the Saint Hill Art Festival’s
Lifetime of Creativity Award, the first time given to a poet and was past Poet Laurette for Youth For Human Rights.  He is a judge for the epic Arizona Poetry Contest.  He has four books of poetry:  Unprotected Poetry, Anguish of the Blacksmith's Forge, In Plain View, 30 Aught 4, and Man Without Borders.  Jaffe's recent human rights activities include workshops and seminars on human trafficking.  


001  December 29, 2017
Margo Berdeshevksy’s “12-24”

002  January 08, 2018
Alexis Rhone Fancher’s “82 Miles From the Beach, We Order The Lobster At Clear Lake Café”

003 January 12, 2018
Barbara Crooker’s “Orange”

004 January 22, 2018
Sonia Saikaley’s “Modern Matsushima”

005 January 29, 2018
Ellen Foos’s “Side Yard”

006 February 03, 2018
Susan Sundwall’s “The Ringmaster”

007 February 09, 2018
Leslea Newman’s “That Night”

008 February 17, 2018
Alexis Rhone Fancher “June Fairchild Isn’t Dead”

009 February 24, 2018
Charles Clifford Brooks III “The Gift of the Year With Granny”

010 March 03, 2018
Scott Thomas Outlar’s “The Natural Reflection of Your Palms”

011 March 10, 2018
Anya Francesca Jenkins’s “After Diane Beatty’s Photograph “History Abandoned”

012  March 17, 2018
Angela Narciso Torres’s “What I Learned This Week”

013 March 24, 2018
Jan Steckel’s “Holiday On ICE”

014 March 31, 2018
Ibrahim Honjo’s “Colors”

015 April 14, 2018
Marilyn Kallett’s “Ode to Disappointment”

016  April 27, 2018
Beth Copeland’s “Reliquary”

017  May 12, 2018
Marlon L Fick’s “The Swallows of Barcelona”

018  May 25, 2018

019  June 09, 2018
Alexis Rhone Fancher’s “Stiletto Killer. . . A Surmise”

020 June 16, 2018
Charles Rammelkamp’s “At Last I Can Start Suffering”

021  July 05, 2018
Marla Shaw O’Neill’s “Wind Chimes”

022 July 13, 2018
Julia Gordon-Bramer’s “Studying Ariel”

023 July 20, 2018
Bill Yarrow’s “Jesus Zombie”

024  July 27, 2018
Telaina Eriksen’s “Brag 2016”

025  August 01, 2018
Seth Berg’s “It is only Yourself that Bends – so Wake up!”

026  August 07, 2018
David Herrle’s “Devil In the Details”

027  August 13, 2018
Gloria Mindock’s “Carmen Polo, Lady Necklaces, 2017”

028  August 21, 2018
Connie Post’s “Two Deaths”

029  August 30, 2018
Mary Harwell Sayler’s “Faces in a Crowd”

030 September 16, 2018
Larry Jaffe’s “The Risking Point”

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