Formulas for Failure

I’ve seen too much of devastating failure,
In almost every avenue of life.
One might guess lack of skill the main derailer,
But that’s not even close to what’s most rife.

A bigger reason’s lack of confidence,
You must have strong belief that you’ll succeed.
A picture of achievement you can sense,
As optimism is a foremost need.

Surprisingly though, too much expectation,
Reflects a harmful immaturity,
As often the best source of motivation,
For life success is insecurity!



Beneficial Lesson

A caring and sensitive
Human being learns—
Don’t trivialize
Someone else’s concerns.



The Next Generation

I say hello to all while on my jogging route,
Most everyone replies, some waving hands come out.

Today I passed a girl I’d never seen before,
She might have been fourteen, or maybe slightly more.

She wore red soccer gear and kicked a ball around,
I said “Good morning” to her—nothing too profound.

Now this is not in any way exaggeration—
She said “Good morning” to me without hesitation,

Then added:  “I hope it’s a fine day for you, Sir!”
Now doesn’t that give you more faith in our future?



Russel Winick recently started writing poetry after ending a long legal career. He resides in Naperville, Illinois.

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17 Responses

  1. Rohini

    Very good, I enjoyed them all. So much of rhyming depends on pronunciation. With my English influences, I am more inclined to say ‘root’ than rout(e) and so had to read that over.

    • Russel Winick

      Rohini, I’m glad you enjoyed them. Thanks for letting me know.

    • Joshua C. Frank

      I’m American, and I pronounce route and root the same. It varies by region, I think.

      • Russel Winick

        Same holds for syllables. For example, in the Midwest everyone I know pronounces “liberal” with three syllables, but in Evan’s neck of the woods, it’s given just two.

  2. Margaret Coats

    The Next Generation is full of surprises; good to hear of the one you observed. Hard to tell, though, whether that young lady will succeed or fail at soccer and life. Your Formulas for Failure is a cute way of saying no way, either way!

    • Russel Winick

      Thanks Margaret. I always appreciate your interesting observations.

  3. Roy Eugene Peterson

    Sometimes short and sweet is the best way to go. Each of your poems has some good lessons in life. “The Next Generation” is one that gives us hope and makes us realize not all of them are doomed.

    • Russel Winick

      Thanks Roy. Yes, that’s my hope. That girl’s response to me was really amazing!

    • Russel Winick

      Thank you Cheryl. Your gracious feedback is always appreciated.

  4. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    I love your poet’s eye view of life, and I especially like the closing stanza in ‘Formulas for Failure.’ A lack of confidence is frowned upon these days… it’s been a driving force for me. As ever, your poems are thought provoking and a pleasure to read. Thank you, Russel.

  5. Shaun C. Duncan

    These are perfectly succinct and direct in their expression but well observed and each sparkles with wisdom. A lack of confidence used to bother me more when I was younger and more ambitious but now I find that reminding myself of my own mediocrity inspires me to work harder at what I do.

  6. Gregory Ross

    “Formulas for Failure” hits on the paradox of success, and I agree, one has to strike a via media when it comes visualizing what it is you want to do.


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