TIME’S ARROW CURSED

 

He will be 90 in a few weeks.
He doesn’t think this is possible.
He says he wasn’t supposed
to live this long.
He asks again how old he is.
You’re still 89, I tell him.
He has a relieved look on his face.
Then he smiles at me, says,
that means you are pretty old yourself.
I begrudgingly agree, though only out of necessity.
Two weeks ago he was certain
he was on the verge of death.
Today he says he is fine, says
he heard someone claim to be dying
but can’t imagine who it was.
Perhaps it was in his dreams, he says.
He goes back to watching television intently.
Tomorrow he won’t recall what he watched,
or perhaps that he watched.
But he knows he will be 90 soon,
or something like it.

OLD MEN

It is always odd
watching older men gather,
talk about their lives,
about how much they
no longer remember,
of last year, and
a decade ago, about
the infinite details
they can clearly recall about
the time they spent
in the Army, Navy, Air Force,
the smell of Slop-on-a-shingle,
of field stripped butts
in a small container
in their olive drabs,
of the base or post exchange
where you could buy
the mandatory Ray-Ban aviators,
the Sergeant’s grimace,
the body count in the war
they never wanted, only
wanted to end quickly,
how they were once brothers
in arms, now just old men
sharing painful memories.

SLIPPING AWAY

Each day I am certain something
more slips away, forgotten, no
longer able to be recalled, lost
in the vast abyss of yesterdays.
I would like to think this happens
because something new, something
better has taken its place, and I
had no choice but to displace it.
That is the convenient story I tell
myself, although I am rarely convinced,
and know that there is a good chance
it is no more than a lie of sorts,
but one that will slip away
and be replaced by something better,
or perhaps I will just forget
that it was a lie in the first place.

ENLIGHTENMENT

He wasn’t sure he wanted it,
was fairly certain he did not,
and in that moment,was certain
he would get it, so he began
developing elaborate plans
on what to do with it when it arrived.
He laid them out in painful detail,
each step, each move carefully choreographed.
He waited patiently, each minute
washing into the next until
it was hours, then days, then months.
He reassessed his plans for it,
fine tuned them daily.
He grew older, until one day
he could no longer remember
what it was, and moments
later it arrived, and there it sat
unseen and unrecognized.

RESURRECTION

In the picture
he is young, wearing
a uniform that fits him,
has his name over the breast,
but his hair is longer.
The picture is a bit askew,
there is a clock on the wall
but the time does not matter.
He knows it was the radio studio
but others would not, the mic
is out of focus, the dials
of the transmitter peeking in
from the periphery.
He can barely remember it,
that is what 50 years will do,
but he remembers the parade ground
at Lackland Air Force Base
and the hospital
where they told him
his trip to Da Nang
would be canceled
and his life reinstated.

SIGNS OF AGE

1.
I wrote a note
to remind me
to remind you
of that thing
you didn’t want
to forget, but
I can’t remember
where I put it.
Have you seen it?

2.
I am rapidly
approaching that point
when counting black hairs
on my head is easier
then counting years.

3.
This year I finally
remembered your birthday, now
if I could only think
of your name.

4.
In the mall last week
I walked excitedly
into “The Body Shoppe”
only to find they
don’t sell replacement parts.

SEAL SONG

A young woman holds
a mirror out to the sea
as she sings a simple, sweet song
to a cloud which lingers overhead.
You want to ask her about this
but you are afraid – afraid that she
will forget the song
and the small cloud
that is your only shade
will slip into the arms
of a retreating wave;
afraid she will turn the mirror
on you and you will see
not the small, happy youth
but an old man who walks
bent over and unbalanced,
threatening to fall into the earth
with each shaky step;
afraid that this young woman
will slip away into the sea
and your selkie dream
will shatter on the nearby rocks.