But never impress him at all,
How unconcerned I too used to be
About saying Fuck It, I’ll make my own rules.
How self-satisfied I’ve always been
About saying it,
That I’d catch up later if I had to.
Having a lot of intelligent yet aberrant attitude
Hasn’t actually worked out all that great in the end—
I mean, here, where I am, that’s maybe just a rabbit hole,
But seems rather close to the end.
Young people are too self-absorbed, of course,
To listen to such drivel as this very much—
They think they’re different, and that older people are duds.
Maybe it’s just me—they sound like the same jerk I was—
But I’d hate to be in the position
Of trying to talk to a stone
When I’ve already gone down myself,
With nothing but stones for buoyancy.
Every generation has to differ
From the last, I guess—
Like all this addle-pated nonsense now
About what kind of sex isn’t sex.
Odd, but it’s all been sex to me,
Though it now keeps getting odder
As some exaggerate the difference,
Some split a mighty fine hair.
Whether you tell or care,
Self-abuse is what it appears,
Just something to do in your underwear,
And true love is always true love,
However unknown or suspect.
What’s worse, this slow deterioration of all that’s perfect or fair
Is always encroaching, always there.
The college education that young man of yours
Rejects so competently, rings a distant bell in me.
My own rejection bleeds from me these days
Almost like drops of blood—Christ, what was I thinking?
College wouldn’t have been such a bad thing, I see now,
For the usual piddling, wearing reasons—
Like less labor expended in the long run
When you’re tired to death of the run,
And more money with which to pad even this padded cell.
Once you’re down and out and bent a bit from all these years
Of saying the same old thing, it might be easier to say
From a crappy desk chair
Than from behind some service counter or out in the field.
In truth, it’s almost impossible
To say these days. Or unsay.
At some point, it begins: you can’t catch up
With the world again until it ends.
Now with feet getting hard to lift, it all starts to go adrift,
The seeming passing of the gift—
All these organs and ornaments of flesh in distress
Now sag, flag, and drag toward a new address
Where one’s balance goes finely askew.
Money keeps naked poverty at bay,
But what can it really buy?
What can it say?
What if no more than this:
Whatever balm or anesthetizing agents
There are these days
For all the gaping vicissitudes of Love and
Whatever else remains—
Whether it be love delayed or love decayed,
Perverted love or devoured love
Or a mother’s mad devoted love—
Or for all the multifaceted forms of bruised perversity
That a society obsessed with diversity can provide.
For me intellect and art
Never took a back seat
To the bazaar or the bizarre,
But oh how one comes to dread the commonplace—
Arthritis, and lost circulation and teeth.
Straining knees and back and eyes,
This cold disorder and defect.
The decline and ill repine of sex
Or just finding out
That death’s not such an easy out
As one’s younger, tougher, callow self
Used to expect.
Your young man wouldn’t want to know it about me—
After all, who am I? But what about himself?
What happens when you can’t get started is one thing.
What happens when your malady can’t get stopped?
It occurs to me in a panic
Like some crazy concept of hell
That Time is waiting and may not stop—
How would we know, when none before us ever tell?
It’s like that stupid battery bunny on TV—
A toy that just keeps going and going,
Even if everyone has now walked away
And the bunny keeps doing its flip for no one.
Everything always ends up being about me, you’ll agree,
Yet one can’t plainly say it, explain it, or defend it.
So let that young man listen till he drops, still I cannot tell,
Not now, or not in time, perhaps not ever,
At least not until it stops.
7th draft: 3/14/2010
6th draft: 11/23/03
©2003 Ronald C. Southern