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Song Of An Old Man

SONG OF AN OLD MAN

…..I

Here I am
With a story
Without a beginning, without an end, without a story
But here I am
I came here
Proudly
With my fine circus
With my elephants, my clowns, my highwire
And my fleas
No – now my memory fails me too
I never had fleas till I came here
Proudly
With my circus in a bag on my back
In the country my circus was a rage
Everyone came
Everyone marvelled and took something home
But then I came to the city
Spying out the land
And all those people
Rushing back and forth
I don’t know
Frightened me somehow
With their beards and monocles
Their sweaters and nylon stockings
Frightened me somehow
And I clung on to my bag
To keep my circus quiet
Out of sight till the time came

…..II

Remembering
How old was I when you gave me my circus?
Pleased at first as children are
Then awed, ecstatic, angry, indignant, blind with rage and screaming as I learned
All the time learning
I remember the accidents
Fire in the stables roasting horses like chickens
Young girls missing the net to explode like wine glasses
I couldn’t close my eyes
Saw every hurt
Felt blood flow
And all the time learning my trade
Until you should make me master of the ring
Good times too
Delivering foals at 3 a.m.
Lovers holding hands a hundred feet up
The clown risking his life when the lion got loose
All the stories the artistes had to tell
All the time learning
Learning my trade
For I was to announce them and their stories
In the city
And here
Here I was
Nervous
Dumbstruck

…..III

I have been proud in my life
I have had to learn not to thank you for making me like this
Not to thank you I am not as other men
But now as a reward
Please please
Let me be like them
Please
I was too prudent
I did not book a hall
I did not light lights
Hang up posters
Parade them through the town
I kept them quiet
Out of sight till the time came
I was too prudent
It was a wet November
The streets reflected the lights
And clung to my shoes
I huddled in cafés
Slept in alleys
I bought drinks for people I thought might like circuses
Made them my friends
I told them anecdotes
I spent years at it
I learned to speak
To make people laugh by keeping a straight face
And by crying to make them cry
But many didn’t understand me

…..IV

And some – some I trusted
Thought ill of me
That my stories were lies
Were all mine
In some way “my opinion”
And cost me more years of learning
For only a fool is angry when no one listens
And no one listens to a fool
So now I am an old fool
But I heard – I saw those stories
They belong to me
To you
To the people who drank my drinks
And would not listen
I was too prudent
And too foolish
I have spent all my money
I have sold everything to buy people drinks
My elephants, my clowns, my highwire
All I have left are my fleas
I would ask you to book a hall for me
To light lights
Hang up posters
To buy back my animals and parade them through the town
But I am afraid
For you would refuse
I would ask you if my fleas are enough
But I am afraid
For you would say yes

Wall Calendar: Shadorma

WALL CALENDAR

Turn over
For another month.
Summer’s done.
Autumn’s here.
Make the most of it; winter’s
Just round the corner.

~~~~~ ~ ~~~~~

Colleen’s 2019 Weekly #Tanka Tuesday #Poetry Challenge No. 142, 1st of the Month #Poet’sChoice

Dust

DUST

So much, oh so much
Sits here on the shelf
Mainly gathering dust now

We gathered so much
For we were earning so much
Neither driving nor drinking

Let us buy music we thought
Not only does it move the heart
But is still around in the morning

Uninvited years now come and gone
Leave no one left to blame for that
Least of all all this clogging dust

A Cruel Mistress

A CRUEL MISTRESS

Top of the charts, teenage guitar hero
All those girls down on their knees

Fast forward thirty years
Nothing to see here

Just another clapped out muso
Comes awake mid afternoon

A sobering thought
Sends a shiver

Sends him scuttling
For a hair of the dog

A glass or three
Of Old Paint Stripper

Down at the Rickety Crotchet
Where the mandatory optimism prevails

Song Of An Old Man

SONG OF AN OLD MAN

…..I

Here I am
With a story
Without a beginning, without an end, without a story
But here I am
I came here
Proudly
With my fine circus
With my elephants, my clowns, my highwire
And my fleas
No – now my memory fails me too
I never had fleas till I came here
Proudly
With my circus in a bag on my back
In the country my circus was a rage
Everyone came
Everyone marvelled and took something home
But then I came to the city
Spying out the land
And all those people
Rushing back and forth
I don’t know
Frightened me somehow
With their beards and monocles
Their sweaters and nylon stockings
Frightened me somehow
And I clung on to my bag
To keep my circus quiet
Out of sight till the time came

…..II

Remembering
How old was I when you gave me my circus?
Pleased at first as children are
Then awed, ecstatic, angry, indignant, blind with rage and screaming as I learned
All the time learning
I remember the accidents
Fire in the stables roasting horses like chickens
Young girls missing the net to explode like wine glasses
I couldn’t close my eyes
Saw every hurt
Felt blood flow
And all the time learning my trade
Until you should make me master of the ring
Good times too
Delivering foals at 3 a.m.
Lovers holding hands a hundred feet up
The clown risking his life when the lion got loose
All the stories the artistes had to tell
All the time learning
Learning my trade
For I was to announce them and their stories
In the city
And here
Here I was
Nervous
Dumbstruck

…..III

I have been proud in my life
I have had to learn not to thank you for making me like this
Not to thank you I am not as other men
But now as a reward
Please please
Let me be like them
Please
I was too prudent
I did not book a hall
I did not light lights
Hang up posters
Parade them through the town
I kept them quiet
Out of sight till the time came
I was too prudent
It was a wet November
The streets reflected the lights
And clung to my shoes
I huddled in cafés
Slept in alleys
I bought drinks for people I thought might like circuses
Made them my friends
I told them anecdotes
I spent years at it
I learned to speak
To make people laugh by keeping a straight face
And by crying to make them cry
But many didn’t understand me

…..IV

And some – some I trusted
Thought ill of me
That my stories were lies
Were all mine
In some way “my opinion”
And cost me more years of learning
For only a fool is angry when no one listens
And no one listens to a fool
So now I am an old fool
But I heard – I saw those stories
They belong to me
To you
To the people who drank my drinks
And would not listen
I was too prudent
And too foolish
I have spent all my money
I have sold everything to buy people drinks
My elephants, my clowns, my highwire
All I have left are my fleas
I would ask you to book a hall for me
To light lights
Hang up posters
To buy back my animals and parade them through the town
But I am afraid
For you would refuse
I would ask you if my fleas are enough
But I am afraid
For you would say yes

Alphabet For The Third Age

ALPHABET FOR THE THIRD AGE

A’s for arthritis; B’s the bad back
C’s the chest pains, perhaps cardiac?
D is for dental decay and decline
E is for eyesight; can’t read that top line!

F is for fissures and fluid retention
G is for gas (which I’d rather not mention)
H high blood pressure; I’d rather have low
I for incisions with scars you can show

J is for joints, out of socket, won’t mend
K is for knees that crack when they bend
L’s for libido; what happened to sex?
M is for memory; I forget what comes next

N is neuralgia, in nerves way down low
O is for osteo-; bones that don’t grow
P for prescriptions; I have quite a few
Just give me a pill and I’ll be good as new!

Q is for queasy; is it fatal or flu?
R is for reflux; one meal turns to two
S is for sleepless nights, counting my fears
T is for tinnitus – bells in my ears!

U is for urinary (troubles with flow)
V for vertigo, that’s – “dizzy” you know
W for worry ’bout what’s going ’round?
X is for X ray, and what might be found

Y for another year I’m left here behind
Z is for zest I still have – in my mind!
I’ve survived the symptoms and I’m still employed
Keeping twenty-six doctors all fully deployed!

——————————————————————

I just rediscovered this on my pc. I’d completely forgotten it, and where I found it. I certainly didn’t compose it. I wish. 😀 A DuckDuckGo search (https://duckduckgo.com) finds it all over the place, but no author for me to credit. You may have seen it before, but if not …

Red Light

RED LIGHT

Driving in to work this morning
Up by the traffic lights
There they were

Still in their teens looked like
And between them
Covering both ends of the spectrum

Perfectly staged archetypes
Artfully fashioned
To hit all the right buttons

One with the ample coal black curls
The easy grace, the confident stride
Already marked down, I’m sure

To receive a special mention award
For her outstanding contributions
Come Breast Awareness Week

The other with the straight hair
The slightly dippy look about the eyes
And the face furniture to die for

(Did I mention my thing for glasses?)
Christ, I’m nearly sixty
Will this never end?

I remember years ago
When Pain first moved in with Desire
Until now they’ve become inseparable

They tell me I’m only the landlord
And can’t do a thing about it
Something about an assured tenancy

Told myself it didn’t matter anyway
It’s only a problem if you let yourself get so distracted
You forget the lights and don’t stop in time

~~~~~ ~ ~~~~~

Notes on “Red Light”:-

Someone described this poem as being risky. I liked it enough to take the risk. There seems to be a big taboo around desire (lust) after a person reaches a certain age. It makes people uncomfortable. They push it away by pretending it doesn’t exist, making a joke of it, or deforming it into something distasteful.

The poem suggests that in reality it *does* exist and rather than being funny or distasteful (though it can be either of those too) it can be a source of quiet pain, endured in silence (but with maybe a certain bitterness). Desiring someone you can’t “have” is painful at any age.

When I Am Old

(I first posted this when few people had discovered the site. I have decided it deserves better distribution, so here goes. 🙂  )

…..
WHEN I AM OLD

When I am old, do you suppose
That hairs will grow out of my nose,
And as I count the passing years
Will tufts of it sprout from my ears?

When arms and legs are thin and frail
And memory begins to fail
Shall I recall those days gone by
When passing women sought my eye?

When face is wrinkled, fold on fold,
And summer heatwaves leave me cold,
And teeth are gone, and eyes are weak,
Shall I lose all desire to speak?

When I have lived my lifespan through
And found at last a perfect view
Will others see there no more than
The mumblings of a mad old man?

When I am always far away,
Too deaf to hear a word you say,
Your feelings – will they be the same
When I keep asking you your name?

When mind’s decayed, and flesh repels,
And speech no longer casts its spells;
When I am old, then we shall see
Just what it was you loved in me.

The Last Chapter

THE LAST CHAPTER

Old sorrows, brief joys, flare and fade away.
Too late now to recapture or repair.
You dream of passing drowsing in your chair,
Waking reborn to dream another day.

——————————————————————

This was written as an appendix to W.B. Yeats’ poem, “When You Are Old”

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how love fled
And paced among the mountains overhead
And hid his face among a crowd of stars.

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