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A Tendency Toward ‘Forever Young'

homeless veterans shelter writing project

forever young

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

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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