A Tendency Toward “Forever Young”

Homeless veterans shelter writing project

They call it grace
the fullness of bellies
old man now the
new forty is sixty
all that time wrestling
ambition, octopus of darkness
those tentacles squeezing out
youth, the sharp conch-shell
cracking beak within inches
of face, aging into what?

Form gone, or going
forlorn laments
the age is nanosecond now
retro and future, smashed, the
now frozen but sand-blasted
the ice of decrepit bones
hot too, furnace red

Maybe age is
tree rings, those
years with almost
nothing for food,
drought and drought
to end all, then
years of splendor,
flowing cycles of rain,
spring, autumn, winter
in balance, tree rings
exploring the content
of time, or character
that gift gotten young,
sure, but challenged, stripped
as time insults us, this
battlefield of jobs relationships
tithing to the tax man, lunacy
of addictions

real aging is possibly
grasping onto character,
what’s left of gravitas, as if
bad living, felonious thoughts,
greed and gluttony come
out the sieve of time
and you are there, wise
a survivor, a story teller
now not so much calmer
or irrelevant, but sage
somehow even sinister
punks can turn old
thoughtful, full of nostalgia
but aged, browning
edges, the big blue
of Gorgonzola, the holes in head
the Galapagos tortoise three
centuries, aged, rings
and gnawed down teeth,
stories of living, waiting
and that age defeated for two
and a half centuries, premature
death seized, the slowness
of death now sped up
age twilight golden years
but fabric worn thin
but still a banner
announcing one’s life, that
path well worn,
but like Whitman
or Thoreau, meaningful
like blackberry eating
only age can
make poetic from the
sound, the gnashing
squirts, those fine lines
of blue-black-purple fruit only
age can sing, and songs
for the young, maybe
that’s age – we
are troubadours
and the young are
our perpetual audience
outside jazz experimental
stream of consciousness
maybe old-time religion, too
reformed, age
that wrinkled poem, raspy
song, age
screaming out forever

Paul Haeder's been a teacher, social worker, newspaperman, environmental activist, and marginalized muckraker, union organizer. Paul's book, Reimagining Sanity: Voices Beyond the Echo Chamber (2016), looks at 10 years (now going on 17 years) of his writing at Dissident Voice. Read his musings at LA Progressive. Read (purchase) his short story collection, Wide Open Eyes: Surfacing from Vietnam now out, published by Cirque Journal. Here's his Amazon page with more published work Amazon. Read other articles by Paul, or visit Paul's website.