How to Prevent Falling
Elders and Alcohol

April is National Poetry Month

That's what one of the few magazines I still insist upon reading in print, The New York Review of Books, reports.

A short trip around the internet tells us that it is organized by the Academy of American Poets. The current U.S. Poet Laureate, Tracy K. Smith, tell us

“Poetry surprises and deepens our sense of the ordinary. Poetry tells us that the world is full of wonder, revelation, consolation, and meaning.”

Indeed, and that makes it a good reason, I think, to celebrate ageing in poetry as there is hardly a poet who has ever lived who did not, both in youth and old age, tackle the phenomenon of growing old.

Is, perhaps, Shakespeare's sonnet, The Ages of Man speech from “As You Like It” (also known as All the World's a Stage), the most well known poem on the subject? The last three lines are killers.

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms;
And then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

Some others take a more humorous approach than Shakespeare. A man named Denny Davis collects poems, quotations, scrapbook items and all manner of interesting things on his website. I could have written this poem, My Rememberer, myself as I'm pretty sure many of you might have:

My forgetter's getting better
But my rememberer is broke
To you that may seem funny
But, to me, that is no joke.

For when I'm 'here' I'm wondering
If I really should be 'there'
And, when I try to think it through,
I haven't got a prayer!

Often times I walk into a room,
Say "what am I here for?"
I wrack my brain, but all in vain
A zero, is my score.

At times I put something away
Where it is safe, but, Gee!
The person it is safest from
Is, generally, me!

When shopping I may see someone,
Say "Hi" and have a chat,
Then, when the person walks away
I ask myself, "who was that?"

Yes, my forgetter's getting better
While my rememberer is broke,
And it's driving me plumb crazy
And that isn't any joke.

P.S. Send this to everyone you know because I don't remember who sent it to me! (noted Denny)

From 1927, I've selected W.B. Yeats' well-known classic, Sailing to Byzantium, written when he was in his early sixties. It is about asking the sages of Byzantium to teach him acceptance of old age.

A few years later, Yeats wrote about this poem in a radio script:

'I am trying to write about the state of my soul, for it is right for an old man to make his soul, and some of my thoughts about that subject I have put into a poem called Sailing to Byzantium.

Here is Sailing to Byzantium with that opening sentence that has been made noteworthy in our era for the book and the film of the same name.

That is no country for old men. The young
In one another’s arms, birds in the trees,
—Those dying generations—at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unageing intellect.

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.

O sages standing in God’s holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.

Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.

It's been a long while since I've written of poems about old age and in honor of the beginning of National Poetry Month, I think we should all get in on the act this time.

Do you have a favorite? Is there one that has given you new insight into your later years? Or maybe you have written one yourself.

If so, post it in the comments below. If there is something you'd like to tell us about it first, certainly do that. All I ask is that you leave a line space between stanzas for ease of reading - if that is how the poet meant it to be.

Other than that, length doesn't matter; there is infinite space on the internet and of course, it does not have to be from an American poet.

* * *

In celebration of the U.S. National Poetry Month, The New York Review of Books is holding a sale – 30 percent off on selected poetry books. You'll find them here.



Comments

I have so many favorite poems about age. Top of the list (as so many of his poems are) is Forgetfulness by Billy Collins:

The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read,
never even heard of,

as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a little fishing village where there are no phones.

Long ago you kissed the names of the nine Muses goodbye
and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,
and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,

something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,
the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.

Whatever it is you are struggling to remember,
it is not poised on the tip of your tongue,
not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.

It has floated away down a dark mythological river
whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall,
well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those
who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.

No wonder you rise in the middle of the night
to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.
No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted
out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.

And this, perhaps a fragment of another poem, by Henry WadsworthLongfellow:

“For age is opportunity no less
Than youth itself, though in another dress,
And as the evening twilight fades away
The sky is filled with stars, invisible by day.”

This poem by the fabulous Maya Angelou is not technically about aging but as a woman, It makes me smile.

Phenomenal Woman

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I'm telling lies.

I say,
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.

I say,
It's the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can't touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can't see.

I say,
It's in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I'm a woman

Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed.
I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.

I say,
It's in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
'Cause I'm a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

One more Maya Angelou....this one is killer:

The Lesson

I keep on dying again.
Veins collapse, opening like the
Small fists of sleeping
Children.
Memory of old tombs,
Rotting flesh and worms do
Not convince me against
The challenge.
The years
And cold defeat live deep in
Lines along my face.
They dull my eyes, yet
I keep on dying,
Because I love to live.

Favorite line from Ulysses by Lord Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892)

Facing old age, mythical hero Ulysses
concludes:

Though much is taken, much abides; and though

We are not now that strength which in old days

Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;

One equal temper of heroic hearts,

Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will

To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

These are wonderful, the blog and the comments, so thanks!!

My favorite is "The Layers" by Stanley Kunitz, and was written, I think when he was 90.

I have walked through many lives,
some of them my own,
and I am not who I was,
though some principle of being
abides from which I struggle
not to stray.
When I look behind,
as I am compelled to look
before I can gather strength
to proceed on my journey,
I see the milestones dwindling
toward the horizon
and the slow fires trailing
from the abandoned camp-sites,
over which scavenger angels
wheel on heavy wings.
Oh, I have made myself a tribe
out of my true affections,
and my tribe is scattered!
How shall the heart be reconciled
to its feast of losses?
In a rising wind
the manic dust of my friends,
those who fell along the way,
bitterly stings my face.
Yet I turn, I turn,
exalting somewhat,
with my will intact to go
wherever I need to go,
and every stone on the road
precious to me.
In my darkest night,
when the moon was covered
and I roamed through wreckage,
a nimbus-clouded voice
directed me:
"Live in the layers,
not on the litter."
Though I lack the art to decipher it,
no doubt the next chapter
in my book of transformations
is already written.
I am not done with my changes.

I pretty much live my life these days reminding myself of Mary Oliver's THE JOURNEY

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice --
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voice behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do --
determined to save
the only life that you could save.

Otherwise by Jane Kenyon

I got out of bed
on two strong legs.
It might have been
otherwise. I ate
cereal, sweet
milk, ripe, flawless
peach. It might
have been otherwise.
I took the dog uphill
to the birch wood.
All morning I did
the work I love.
At noon I lay down
with my mate. It might
have been otherwise.
We ate dinner together
at a table with silver
candlesticks. It might
have been otherwise.
I slept in a bed
in a room with paintings
on the walls, and
planned another day
just like this day.
But one day, I know,
it will be otherwise.

This poem always reminds of so many things.....

Pat - "The Journey" is wonderful! Thanks for sharing!

Tera--SWOON!

Here's a wonderful poem that won a contest in my local newspaper in Ft. Myers.

RED by L.M. Davies

Mama, I like things red.
Not some namby-pamby wine color
too scared to be red, but
Scream in your face
Fire engine loud red
The color that shouts
Damn, you’d best see me and take notice
‘fore I run you over red
That’s me, mama.
The Red Woman
The scarlet woman they whisper about in church
I don’t turn my eyes downward for no one
These feet know where they’re goin’
without me checking up on ‘em every three seconds.
I wear red, mama, and
Hold my head up high
Proud of my scars and my smile that says
I been there and come out
whole on the other side.
I wear red, mama, for the heat in my heart and my thighs
For the dark fire that burns in these black eyes
I wear red, mama,
Because I won’t walk when I can run
And I won’t whisper when I can sing
I wear red, mama, for all the joy you ever taught me.
I wear red, mama,
For you. (News-Press, 2/1/15)

Thanks for several favorites above, I love reading them once more. Here is a poem I wrote and recently shared with an Academy For Lifelong Learning class (all over 55, most over 65)

Things Only Old Folks Know

The lost word or name is not a disaster,
It doesn't mean Alzheimer's or dementia,
It happens to everyone quite often.

The blank look and unresponsiveness is okay,
It isn't snobbishness, anger or ignorance,
Our hearing isn't what it used to be.

Sitting quietly as others leave the room
Isn't disinterest or disagreement,
It's just so damned hard to get out of the chair.

The lavish sprinkling of salt, pepper or hot sauce
Doesn't mean the cooking's lousy,
Our taste buds have been dying one by one.

The shrug and sigh at news of scandal
Isn't indifference, it's boredom with the stupidity
and arrogance of celebrities, politicians and columnists.

The shaking head with the down-turned mouth
Isn't sudden onset of Pakinson's disease,
We're truly sad the world's going to hell.

What those young folks don't understand
Has to be forgiven. They'll join us and do the same
If they're lucky enough to become one of the old folks.

"I Worried," by Mary Oliver....

I worried a lot. Will the garden grow, will the rivers
flow in the right direction, will the earth turn
as it was taught, and if not how shall
I correct it?

Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven,
can I do better?

Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrows
can do it and I am, well,
hopeless.

Is my eyesight fading or am I just imagining it,
am I going to get rheumatism,
lockjaw, dementia?

Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing.
And gave it up. And took my old body
and went out into the morning,
and sang.

Here's a stanza from Sixty Years After by the Caribbean poet Derek Walcott:

Be happy now at Cap, for the simplest joys--
for a line of white egrets prompting the last word,
for the sea's recitation entering my head
with questions it erases, canceling the demonic voice
by which I have recently been possessed: unheard,
it whispers the way a fiend does to a madman
who gibbers to his bloody hands that he was seized
the way the sea swivels in the conch's ear, like the roar
of applause that precedes the actor with increased
doubt to the pitch of paralyzed horror
that his prime is past. If it is true
that my gift has withered, that there is little left of it,
if this man is right then there's nothing else to do
but abandon poetry like a woman because you love it
and would not see her hurt, least of all by me;
so walk to the cliff's edge and soar above it,
the jealousy, the spite, the nastiness with the grace
of a frigate over Barrel of Beef, its rock.
Be grateful you wrote well in this place,
let the torn poems sail from you like a flock
of white egrets in a long last sigh of relief.

Many thanks for this post & the responses.


The Last Leaf
By Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

I saw him once before,
As he passed by the door,
And again
The pavement stones resound,
As he totters o’er the ground
With his cane.

They say that in his prime,
Ere the pruning-knife of Time
Cut him down,
Not a better man was found
By the Crier on his round
Through the town.

But now he walks the streets,
And looks at all he meets
Sad and wan,
And he shakes his feeble head,
That it seems as if he said,
“They are gone.”

The mossy marbles rest
On the lips that he has prest
In their bloom,
And the names he loved to hear
Have been carved for many a year
On the tomb.

My grandmamma has said—
Poor old lady, she is dead
Long ago—
That he had a Roman nose,
And his cheek was like a rose
In the snow;

But now his nose is thin,
And it rests upon his chin
Like a staff,
And a crook is in his back,
And a melancholy crack
In his laugh.

I know it is a sin
For me to sit and grin
At him here;
But the old three-cornered hat,
And the breeches, and all that,
Are so queer!

And if I should live to be
The last leaf upon the tree
In the spring,
Let them smile, as I do now,
At the old forsaken bough
Where I cling.

I was a people-pleaser for much of my life. However, as I have grown older (69) and more alone, I discovered the following poem about 1 year ago. It has given me solace.

"Sweet Darkness" by David Whyte

When your eyes are tired
the world is tired also.

When your vision has gone,
no part of the world can find you.

Time to go into the dark
where the night has eyes
to recognize its own.

There you can be sure
you are not beyond love.

The dark will be your home
tonight.

The night will give you a horizon
further than you can see.

You must learn one thing.
The world was made to be free in.

Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong.

Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn

anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive

is too small for you.

Beautiful posts. Shakespeare had so many wise words & one of my favorites from the Tempest I believe:

"We are such stuff as dreams are made on,
And our little life is rounded in a sleep."

I'm a bit of a rhymester myself, as well as a fan of humorous verse. Here's a little tribute to Lewis Carroll:

“I am old, Father William,” the woman said
“And my hair has become very thin.
Though I take the best care that I can of my head
It’s a pitiful state that I’m in.”

“In your youth,” Father William replied to her then,
“You had a strong, vigorous brain;
But as every young chick will become an old hen
You won’t ever be like that again.”

“I am old, as I said,” and she winced as she spoke,
“Though I still have a good BMI,
But my energy loss is becoming a joke;
It’s enough to make anyone cry.”

“When you’re old,” said the Dad, “you have got to let go
Of the girl that you once used to be.
To get where you’re going you must take it slow.
You can model yourself after me.”

“But you’re just as old and decrepit as I,
Though your mind seems as steady as ever.
And you have such a satisfied look in your eye;
Said the lady, “What made you so clever?”

“I have answered two questions, and that is enough,”
William said; “Now, don’t cause yourself strife!
Just be grateful you’re still fairly active and tough,
And get on with the rest of your life!”

I remember my Dad frequently quoting Robert Browning's "Rabbi Ben Ezra". Here's a brief excerpt:

Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made:
Our times are in His hand
Who saith "A whole I planned,
Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!''
-------
But I, of little faith, have always found more sense in the following poem:

Provide, Provide
by Robert Frost

The witch that came (the withered hag)
To wash the steps with pail and rag
Was once the beauty Abishag,

The picture pride of Hollywood.
Too many fall from great and good
For you to doubt the likelihood.

Die early and avoid the fate.
Or if predestined to die late,
Make up your mind to die in state.

Make the whole stock exchange your own!
If need be occupy a throne,
Where nobody can call you crone.

Some have relied on what they knew,
Others on being simply true.
What worked for them might work for you.

No memory of having starred
Atones for later disregard
Or keeps the end from being hard.

Better to go down dignified
With boughten friendship at your side
Than none at all. Provide, provide!


(Great post, Ronni! Thanks!)

I recently saw the movie Emily which is a biography of Emily Dickinson. I highly recommend it for any Dickinson lovers.

One of my favorite poets is John Donne who wrote that well known poem about death but that is not my favorite poem by him.

I enjoyed the forgetfulness poem. Light & clever. Good rhyming. Well done!

when the white flame in us is gone,
and we that lost the world's delight
stiffen in darkness, left alone
to crumble in our separate night.

when your swift hair is quiet in death,
and through the lips corruption thrust
has stilled the labour of my breath--
when we are dust, when we are dust!

rupert brooke

I am one in the community of sharing poets: Thank you Ronni!

SLIDE SHOW by Jane Seskin

Many times
during a day

the number I am
may not be

the age
I inhabit.

I would like to have this read as I leave this earthly plane-


Up-Hill

by Christina Rossetti

Does the road wind up-hill all the way?
Yes, to the very end.
Will the day's journey take the whole long day?
From morn to night, my friend.

But is there for the night a resting-place?
A roof for when the slow, dark hours begin.
May not the darkness hide it from my face?
You cannot miss that inn.

Shall I meet other wayfarers at night?
Those who have gone before.
Then must I knock, or call when just in sight?
They will not keep you waiting at that door.

Shall I find comfort, travel-sore and weak?
Of labour you shall find the sum.
Will there be beds for me and all who seek?
Yea, beds for all who come.

One more that I found in my collection...on a lighter note...

90 Years and Still Going

Today, Dear Lord, I'm 90, and so much I haven't done;
I hope, Dear Lord, you'll let me live until I'm 91!
But then, if I haven't finished all that I want to do,
would you please let me stay a while until I'm 92?

So many places I want to go, so very much yet to see,
do you think you could manage to make it 93?
The world is changing very fast, there is so much in store,
I'd like it very much to live until I'm 94.

And if by then I'm still alive,
I'd like to stay until 95.
Many planes will be in the air, so I'd really like to stick
and see what happens in the world when I am 96.

I know, Dear Lord, it's much to ask, and it must be nice in Heaven,
but really, Lord, I would like to stay until I'm 97.
I know by then I'll be so slow, and sometimes very late,
but it would be pleasant to be around when I'm 98.

I will have seen so many things and have had such wonderful times,
I'm sure that I'll be willing to leave when I'm 99!

(Author unknown).

Baba Yaga

Old woman, old woman, the last of the grain
the witch
the wise one
the mother of time

Old woman, old woman, old woman am I
I sing my own song
I walk my own path
I am my own person in tune with the moon

Old hag of the forest
with you I will dance


Baba Yaga is a crone goddess who lives in a hut standing on chicken legs with turn/dance in a circle. I wrote this to help me come to terms with getting old.

I've just now gotten to read this post and all the glorious poetry everyone's shared. So many of these are among my favorites, as well. But in catching up with things this morning, a post from another blog featured an interview with three people writing on depression and poetry. One of the poems included was this one by Anita Barrows, "Questo Muro." It is described as an allegory about the confrontation and breaking through of depression, but it struck me differently, and seems appropriate for this post.

You will come at a turning of the trail
to a wall of flame
After the hard climb & the exhausted dreaming
you will come to a place where he
with whom you have walked this far
will stop, will stand
beside you on the treacherous steep path
& stare as you shiver at the moving wall, the flame
that blocks your vision of what
comes after. And that one
who you thought would accompany you always,
who held your face
tenderly a little while in his hands –
who pressed the palms of his hands into drenched grass
& washed from your cheeks the tear- tracks –
he is telling you now
that all that stands between you
& everything you have known since the beginning
is this: this wall. Between yourself
& the beloved. Between yourself & your joy,
the riverbank swaying with wildflowers, the shaft
of sunlight on the rock, the song.
Will you pass through it now, will you let it consume
whatever solidness this is
you call your life, & send
you out, a tremor of heat,
a radiance, a changed
flickering thing?

A few stanza's from "The Tower of Song" by Leonard Cohen


Well my friends are gone and my hair is grey
I ache in the places where I used to play
And I'm crazy for love but I'm not coming on
I'm just paying my rent every day
Oh in the Tower of Song

I said to Hank Williams: how lonely does it get?
Hank Williams hasn't answered yet
But I hear him coughing all night long
A hundred floors above me
In the Tower of Song

I see you standing on the other side
I don't know how the river got so wide
I loved you baby, way back when
And all the bridges are burning that we might have crossed
But I feel so close to everything that we lost
We'll never have to lose it again

Now I bid you farewell, I don't know when I'll be back
There moving us tomorrow to that tower down the track
But you'll be hearing from me baby, long after I'm gone
I'll be speaking to you sweetly
From a window in the Tower of Song

Great post! I loved reading the poems from those posted in addition to yours, and felt them wash over my head and fill my silent spaces with their warmth. It was a pleasure to have this to begin another day.

Whenever you need a subject, look to this, poetry or prose, or better yet, make it an annual or quarterly regular!

Thank you everyone.

Dear Ronni, the poem that has inspired me as the years have passed--I just turned 82--is "Ulysses" by Alfred Lord Tennyson. As I worked on my convent memoir, "Prayer Wasn't Enough," which was just published, I reread again and again the last five lines that encourage us to continue our quest. These lines are as follows:

"We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."

Sea Fever

BY JOHN MASEFIELD

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

I wrote this while struggling to come to terms with the difference between how I felt in my head and how my body felt!!!!


How could my body get old
Yet I didn’t
Aching bones
Creaky joints
Silver hair
Wrinkled skin
Can’t deny it’s my body
But how did it happen
When it didn’t happen to me

Of course I know
Many years have passed
And I’ve had birthdays galore
Of course I know
About the lifespan of cells
Senescence ,aging, decay
These physical facts may relate to my body
But they haven’t impacted on me

So how could my body get old
Yet I didn’t
I love music and dancing
And laughing out loud
Running on beaches and chasing the clouds
Staying up all night
To finish that book or
That bottle or party delights
These are just some of the things
That I love to do
But this old body
That I’m trapped inside
Wants me to sit
And be careful
As if I should hide
But I won’t

I’ll cover this body
In colours so bright
Put on shoes that glitter
And dance all night
Not to be young
As some people might think
But just to be ME

Thank you all, I enjoyed reading every one. The following submission used to grace the inside of my parents' medicine chest. Now it's on the inside of mine.

"The Expanding Medicine Cabinet"
---Anonymous

A row of bottles on my shelf
Caused me to analyze myself.
One yellow pill I have to pop
Goes to my heart so it won't stop.
A little white one that I take
Goes to my hands so they won't shake.
The blue ones that I use alot
Tell me I'm happy when I'm not.
The purple pill goes to my brain
And tells me that I have no pain.
The capsules tell me not to wheeze
Or cough or choke or even sneeze.
The red ones, smallest of them all
Go to my blood so I don't fall.
The orange ones, very big and bright
Prevent my leg cramps in the night.
Such an array of brilliant pills
Helping to cure all kinds of ills.
But what I'd really like to know
Is what tells each one where to go !

I love Robert Frost's introspective posts about death but having lost a dear friend today, while I have loved every one of these posts, I can't bear to go that direction. Over 50 years ago, in the Chicago Tribune was a two verse ditty about Methuselah. It just caught my fancy and over the years I've added several verses of my own. I don't even know which ones were published by the Trib now. Of course "Methuselah" is the man reported in Genesis to have lived 969 years. So my ditty is titled:

For Those Whose Doctors Give “Dietary Advice”

Methuselah ate what he found on his plate,
And never, as people do now
Did he ask the amount of the calorie count,
He ate it because it was chow.

Methuselah cheered as the platters appeared
Heaped high with pork chops and fries
He gobbled his food with a great attitude
And washed it all down with some rye

He wasn't disturbed as at dinner he sat,
Devouring a boar or some pies,
To think they’d been cooked in an unhealthy fat,
or were a couple of vitamins shy.

He cheerfully chewed every species of food,
Unmindful of worries or fears,
That his health might be hurt,
By some fancy dessert.

Methuselah ate every bite on the plate.
The greasy stuff ran down his chin,
He left not a crumb, then he finished the rum.
No diet gurus gasped, "What a sin!"

Methuselah fed and went straight up to bed.
He snored till he woke up at nine,
His stomach churned on from dusk until dawn,
And his whole life he felt perfectly fine.

Methuselah ate what he wanted to eat.
He mourned not, nor shed any tears
He ate everything his good wife hauled in,
And he lived over 900 years!

Have fun folks!

Correction: the movie about Emily Dickinson (starring Cynthia Nixon) was called A Quiet Passion, not Emily.

This is "Leaving," by Li-Young Lee:

Each day, less leaves
in the tree outside my window.
More leave, and every day
more sky. More of the far,
and every night more stars.

Day after shortening day, more
day in my panes, more missing
in the branches, fewer places
for the birds to hide, their abandoned nests exposed.
And night after increasing night,
the disappearances multiply.

The leaves leap from fire
to colder fire,
from belonging to darker belonging,
from membership to ownership.

Their growing absence
leaves no lack, nothing wanting,
and their gone outnumbers their going
through the door they leave ajar.

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