Old Age in the Arms of the New

I watch the people in the window walk
and wonder why it is that some are old
and waiting for the end when they are young.
What kind of virus causes life to end
while bodies still are healthy, full of life?
Is there a germ that settles in the gut
and defecates a toxic waste the brain
absorbs; that says forget about your life.
You’re old.  There’s nothing more to live for.  Die!
A friend, on turning fifty, told me she
was feeling like her life was over, life
had passed her by, and she was young enough
to be my kid.  A former student, old
at thirty-five remarked, “My life is fine.”
but as she talked I wondered what she meant
by “fine.”  She didn’t seem to have a life.
She had the trappings: kids, a husband, work;
but she was an automaton, a ghost
inhabiting a body still alive.

Simola Family History

As it turns out, the Simola family does have a history that is more than just a couple of generations old.  The surname Simola was first recorded in Sardinia in 1410. There is no evidence, only wishful thinking on my part, but I prefer to believe that he came from Finland since there are a huge number of Simolas in Finland, and that he stopped in England and met Geoffrey Chaucer.  As a result of this unrecorded meeting, this first Sardinian Simola had a copy of The Canterbury Tales made up just for him and that copy is still hiding somewhere in a used bookstore in Sassari, Sardinia and someday I will find it and buy it.  Of course this is all just speculation and wishful thinking.  Here is what I really know:

The First 18 Lines of the General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales

The optional prompt for the last day of NaPoWriMo is to translate a poem from another language, so here is my translation of the first 18 lines of the General Prologue of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.  My goal was to get the meter of the original right and not worry about the rhyme.

When April’s showers come to ease the drought

of March that shrivels every flower’s roots,

and bathe each leaf in soothing, liquid balm;

his power germinates the waiting flowers;

when Zephyr softly blows with his sweet breath

and turns the brown and barren groves and fields

to green with newly growing leaves and shoots;

and the new year is half through Ares’ course;

then once again the birds begin to sing

throughout the day and hardly sleep at night

(with Nature’s help and her encouragement);

then people start to think about their souls.

They want to make a holy a pilgrimage and go,

to foreign lands and visit famous shrines;

and specially from every English shire,

these pilgrims want to visit Canterbury,

to seek the holy blessed martyred saint

who helped to cure them of their winter ills.


A World of Monsters

So monsters really do exist.  I know.

They do.  I saw another one last night.

I’d gone to call the dog, and there it was.

It wasn’t my imagination.  No.

I stood and watched it as it walked right past

my feet.  The thing was close enough to touch,

but it ignored me.  Treated me as if

I wasn’t even there, like I’m the myth

and it reality.  I wonder if

there possibly could be some truth to that.

If we are merely figments, nightmares, dreams

that will be banished with the rising sun.

Odysseus Lived

Though much is taken, much abides, and yet

too often all that anyone can see

is what is taken, what is gone, is lost.

You ask a kid of twenty, “What is old?”

and he might tell you forty, forty-five;

and he’ll be right.  He will be old by then.

He will be old because he’ll think he’s old.

And fifty-five?  A senior citizen.

His life is over.  When can he retire?

And where’s the warehouse where he can be put

until he does the world a favor and

he dies?  I look at people who are old

in years and in infirmities and yet

they are not old.  They do not wait to die.

Instead they live.  For them the world awaits.

It isn’t over till you think it is.

How dull it is to pause and make an end.


It Isn’t Armageddon Yet

It isn’t Armageddon.  So?  So What?

The lilacs blooming in the Spring are worse.

Remember Eliot’s disdain, disgust

about them growing when the land is dead?

Forget about the lilacs.  Anyway

it’s not about the lilacs.  They are just

a metaphor, a blazing semaphore

at sea.  I know I’m mixing metaphors.

That’s not the point.  The point is it’s about

the . . . . Now you’ve got me all confused again.

It isn’t Armageddon.  Yes, I know

it’s been already said.  Don’t interrupt.

It isn’t Armageddon.  It’s about. . . .

I don’t care that you think that it’s about.

It isn’t what you think.  That isn’t it

at all.  That really isn’t it at all.

Just let me finish.  Would you, just for once?