Poems About Aging

Millstone Of The Millennium
Turn and turn, grind thus on,
Millstone of The Millennium,
dawn to dusk, dusk to dawn,
on and on, ad infinitum.
Grind to dust the Summer’s crops
from which we may harvest hopes anew
with wheat and barley and corn and hops,
all watered with emotion’s bitter dew
for a drink to dull our tired minds
and our hearts beneath the relentless stone
that turns and rolls and chews and grinds
until the day we drink alone—all alone.

Fog And Frost
Age is ever creeping
like a fog
or the frost
when the woods are sleeping,
each black log
coldly glossed;
and blearily peeping
through the bog
are the lost—
those who are weeping
from the fog
and the frost.

Digested
Make no mistake,
employment is a snake
which slowly devours
your life, the hours
allotted by luck
and we are all stuck
in its long throat,
coil by coil, rote by rote,
our own time divested,
our essence digested.
For what is toil for us
except Ouroboros?
We eat our own tail,
end to end, without fail,
so we may “survive”—
a dilemma which I’ve
concluded self-defeating,
like a candle fleeting
as it burns on both sides,
the flame meeting at the ides.
Ours is such a Fate
as an entry-exit gate
whereby we earn our stay
only by going away
down the acidic chute,
that terminal route
that brings us to our end
by the rigors which rend
for us a life our own—
an unaffordable loan.
And sacrifice is sacrifice,
whether for virtue or vice,
for yourself or for others
its constriction smothers.
Past, Future, Present—
whether sad, bland or pleasant,
we all feed a python,
Time’s fanged pylon
through which we travel
as we unravel
to die with so much giving
to earn for ourselves a living.

The Slow Suicide

I have oft slain myself
with many leisure hours
spent idle on a shelf
while my dear dream sours—
squandered much in repose
when I might have else gained
much more, or so it goes,
had I not thus refrained,
and in wasting the hours
wasted myself in course
and whatever powers
of mine might provide force
to propel with the stream
of my goals and desires,
profligate unto dream
while my dull life expires.
So many my phases
spent sawing my own thread—
sawing my thread with wear
as Atropos raises
her scissors as fated
to spur strident regret
as I see the frayed seams
and how I also whet
Death with layabout schemes,
for languid was my mode
when ample time blessed me,
but now that I grow old
I am no longer free
to seek diversion for
lounging as I so please,
but must face Death’s black door
and the chill in Fall’s breeze.
I who have taken day
and made a dull, dim thing
of every sunray
that could crown me a king
with the riches of Time,
(a precious rare tender)
rather than this crime
as my own self-lender
indebted evermore
and never to be repaid
as the mortgage grows more
with debt indolence made,
for I am a turncoat
against my own season,
a suicide whose note
was slow in its treason.
Hark! The clock strikes again
as day drains to the lees—
it is a mortal sin:
suicide by degrees.

After-Affects

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Even now, long after the
car wreck, I open the torn books I
salvaged from the collapsed backseat
and out falls another
shard of glass
to chime dully on the linoleum floor,
such Devil-may-care artifacts
reminding me how
Death
crashed into me from behind,
his approach unseen
like some master-class predator—
the Apex of
apex predators.
Oddly, I am
glad,
grateful,
invigorated that
his collision should still affect me today
with haunted visions of
what horrors could have been
had he not been off his game that day,
because it all reminds me that
any given moment
can be a taken moment
and so life is more vivacious
and more precious
than ever before;
not an unlimited commodity,
but a priceless continuum
I must spend wisely
as I am, in turn, spent.
And so these glass shards are like
exclamation marks
announcing loudly each moment
I am alive, saying
“Remember! You are alive!
You could be otherwise!”
And so, amidst the book shards
and the spinal pain
the world is framed
as it should be:
not with affectation,
but with affection.
Gratitude and
urgency
have become the attendant angels
bookmarking every moment
with sharply fractured glass.

Pythian Road

In a valley gleaming with goldenrod
between high-browed hills, I met a god
who was golden-crowned with the sun
and standing, quietly, by the flat-rock run
of a crystal creek, so snakelike through
the waving wildflower view,
and nearby the land that was green and gold
spread vast beyond the blacktop road,
and that rural god walked alone along
the hissing highway, whistling an easy song.
He paused a moment, lost in his thoughts,
and he shook his head at our lots.
He said, “Such haste is it you so often make
that one wonders whether you could ever brake
in time to save you from your own speed
and the fast progress that you think you need.”
Meanwhile the clouds passed overhead,
slow and silent, dark and overfed
with rain, with lightning, bloated in flight
and shading the valley from the midday light,
their pools deep and cool and blue and vast
while a car behind me lost patience and passed
to go wherever it was he thought he liked
while the pagan god took his time and hiked.
The god said, “What a fellow to rush his life
and travel a speed as if Fate’s knife
could be outpaced if he could just get ahead,
only to rush the knife along his thread.
Listen: I may have killed the Pythian snake,
but it is, in fact, an eternal loop in make,
and all mortals are bound to its coils,
so why rush the ending and all that it spoils?
It is the curse of your accelerated age
that you flip the script without reading the page.
Take your time and take in each sight
before you are confined to a Stygian night.”
And though I heard this god, I also wondered—
as the clouds above rained and thundered—
if it was wise to heed a god with all the hours
to walk so slow and admire the flowers.

The Beast Remains The Same

It is a curious circus trick
to force a lion to leap through rings,
not done by books or reason or logic,
but with a whip that snaps and stings.
A natural predator is thus tamed
only through the promise of violence,
not education or being shamed,
but by Nature’s basic commonsense.
Try to read to the lion a book
about the innate worth of a human being—
try to raise him from a cub to look
at a woman as an equal, seeing
enough to emote and to understand,
to empathize with potential prey…
He will not listen, and will eat the hand
that flips the page, despite your dismay.
You are but meat he has his eye on
and he only understands brute force;
and, no, this is not just about a lion,
but all creatures without remorse.
If you think you can tame the breed
through intergenerational reform
you are in denial and you really need
to look at history, and its norm.
The lion has always ruled the lamb,
despite whatever Jesus might have said,
and if not a lion, the strongest ram
ruled with a bellicose, horn-crowned head.
Tyrants, pharaohs, psychos, thieves,
kings and queens and bishops and popes—
they rolled up the bloody cuffs of their sleeves
and rarely washed their hands clean with soaps.
Look: the beast reigns if not whipped each day
nor is this a Beauty-and-Beast case,
and sometimes not even a whip can keep at bay
the beast salivating close to your face.
Nor is the lion-tamer always spared—
he is often the first that is mauled;
too complacent as fangs are bared,
lamenting his career as he is clawed.
And the lion-tamer has in his own heart
a fierce lion roaring in equal measure
so he may fulfill his grandstanding part
and rein-in other lions for your pleasure.
The point remains: no book has ever
halted the fangs of a slobbering beast,
nor education or beliefs, however clever,
so do not trust Life’s circus— not in the least.

Upright Or Twisted

This vast field beneath the glorious Sun
is brimming with honey-sweet light
that glitters with soft fingertips on the tall, golden grass
that billows its head in a loving wind
like a Mass come to pray.
Few trees are scattered about this field’s face,
but these few trees are strong of branch, straight of trunk
and spread wide with canopies proudly dressed in summer leaves.
These few trees are courteous to one another
and do not war with distant neighbors;
not only because they cannot touch each other,
but because they do not have to.

There is a dark hollow beyond the field
which moans deep between a rolling hillock
and the swelling rise of an umbral knob.
The trees within its mouth are gnarled of branch,
twisted of trunk,
crowded for space,
and reach crookedly around each other with covetous intent
to steal the weak slivers of light offered by the negligent Sun.
They war with serpentine branches not because they want to kill,
but because they are naturally inclined to try to survive,
for not every tree is sprouted in golden fields,
nor is it to blame for where its seeds are planted.