They are more frequent, and increasing in duration,
these blackouts blinkering Bernard’s sense of self.
Less often taxed by bouts of cogitation,
his brain retrains, inviting him to delve
into the subject matters that still matter:
the good life, what it is, and how to spend
what’s left of it. Bright shards of thinking flatter
old Bernard into thinking he may end
up well, and, if he’s lucky, not today.
He imagines what shines on him are not stars,
but that he’s seeing nascent angels play.
He’s not grown up in the accepted sense,
he thanks his stars neotenously. He wets
his whistle with Glenlivet and spring water
and quotes from his own diary’s scuffed, foxed notes:
‘We are by nature fragile and capricious.
Unempathetic. We fantasise we’re gods.’
Our geriatric acrobatic dance,
our subtle art, goes sometimes undiscerned
by passers-by. And by you too. Your glance,
pale pilot flame from passions banked, has turned
my head for decades, and today. The trance
the orderlies assume I’m in is one I’ve learned,
to masquerade my yearnings. They run sweet,
while I doze sitting, silent. I’m discreet.
‘Marvelous musing of the Month’ April 1997 on web site A Little Poetry
What dreams survive the dustiness of age?
Why, all of them! In ageing they go prime.
While teenage angst is best at muffled rage
and young adults excel at hustling time,
it’s old decrepitude that’s fit to climb
beyond the cage of flesh and sniff the stars.
Dim-eyed beholders best see what is wild,
anticipate where wheelchairs outpace cars.
It takes the wear of years to free the child.
The crows cruise by the church in close formation.
They bank in search of something I can’t see.
My years on earth, less hard to count than crows
against the sun as the flock flies by at speed,
accelerate until whole decades pass
in days through spaces that had taken years
to navigate the first time, then they’re gone.
Not yet ready (Surely ‘able’ — Ed.) to write anything worth keeping for the OWNERS series, but settling on Ottava Rima as the form. And that encourages stray thoughts (Surely ‘ravings’ — Ed.) like this:
THE CODGER CONGA
He is developing new dance steps without music:
the creep, the slouch, the shuffle, and the waddle.
‘Old age!’ he crows. ‘When I get there I’ll choose it
in preference to rejuvenation twaddle.’
With running gone, and short-range hikes elusive
he chooses totem poles as his role model.
He sits and dozes through the hours that bridge
the gaps between his sidles to the fridge.
The old man doffs his nightingale and whinnies.
Aware from stares that his garb is wrong, he waits
near the entrance, while his hostess sets him straight.
‘You’re adorned in bird, as we all are on Wednesdays
but it’s Tuesday! Tuesdays tout le monde wears cow
in pieces on our heads and hands and feet.
And we don’t speak horse on Tuesdays, we all tweet,’
she trills, thrilled seeing he remembers now.
Last of the summer wine. September sun.
I take my ease, and yours. I meditate
on how life’s less fair than weather in the run
that we call long. The choppy waves reflect
the pointilisstic view mayflies must see
in their one-day lives. In contrast, oaken trees,
like those whose steamed and twisted beams comprise
this harbour’s boats, live longer than do flies
and longer than we will. My long-stemmed glass
goes empty. Autumn chill consumes the shade.
I move my chair to where some sun still reigns.
I think of a rainy city where my son
is working in a tower like I did
when he was younger, and I was not old.
With my back turned to the water, face to sun,
I let the climate take me where it will.
The play is ending as it had begun
back when I had not noticed, and the thrill
of the closure fast approaching was not mine.
I am north of New York State, east of Quebec.
The Gulf Stream keeps me warm enough for now.
Rare birds of plumage — humans, others — trek
about the wharves and water-fronting spas.
Not many people join me in my pause
out on this sunny terrace, where imagined
encounters and adventures quietly pass
into tall tales that novelists will write
all winter waiting for Spring’s holy light.
The wind resembles friends who this year died.
in taking away, like they did, my best thoughts.
Yet, unlike them, the wind has never tried
to recompense me as they did by giving
me ideas of their own: a special gold.
The gold they gave me was the magic kind
that will, although the universe goes cold,
retain its value. They brought gifts of mind.
(on the sunlit terrace of Café ‘De Koperen Vis’ (The Copper Fish) in Monnickendam’s harbour)