Monday, May 22, 2017

TDW Birthday Poem May 23rd 2o17

So, here it is. Another notched on the old door jam, another candle adding its fragile flame to the heat of the day. Everything that you do in this life gets easier as you get more practice. Spend enough time on this planet, work hard at learning how to do this or that and more than likely you'll become an expert at any and everything you apply yourself to . . . except getting old. You can't learn how to deal with age until you're too tired out, to set in your ways to learn the skills of being an elderly . . . thing. And don't ask friends for suggestion on how to live life as an old fart. They don't know themselves. And do yourself a big favor and never complain to your friends about getting old. "Well, getting old beats the alternative!" or they'll say something even less comforting, "Old? You're not old!  Wait 'til you get to my age!" Anyway, here's the yearly poem(s) for this most wonderful of days, my birthday.

69 = LXIX
580,262,400 breaths taken
103,500 miles walked (average)

I Discovered a rash on my left leg this morning,
a rather large rash the size of a softball mitt that
decorated the kneecap with thick, scarlet flowers which
quickly mutated into violent blooms of yellow puss.
And I thought to myself, “Fuck! That’s definitely
gonna leave a scar.”

And the next morning, yes the very next morning
I woke up with a start to find time was already busy
torqueing my joints from ankle to wrist, delivering
a incapacitating  knotted highway through my entire
body. Slowly and thoroughly I’m being transformed
into an aging flesh-pretzel.

The House Sparrows hop about on the wet lawn,
their tiny heads jerk about  searching out shelter,
a bush, a porch. Some flutter up onto the roof
seeking an open vent, a stove pipe, anything,
any tiny crack in the eaves, any passage that might
lead  to the warm, dusty crawl space where
the angry winds can’t find them. I have friends
that are a lot like  those House Sparrows.

My Facebook buddy raises my spirits with an
empathetic. “You’re only as old as you feel.”
Which if true means I’ll be celebrating

my three hundred sixty-third birthday.

Last night it rained; I mean, I meant to say,
early this morning it rained. No, I mean, I meant
to say . . . What the hell the hell does it matter?
When it’s dark, its night not morning, right?

Anyway, it rained last night and I slept through
most of it, I dreamed through it (or is it I dreamt
through it? Fucking grammar.), until a subtle
roll of thunder opened my eyes.
I ran to the window, threw back the blinds . . .
the rain had already stormed passed leaving only
a saggy, soggy world for me to admire.
So fast things come and go these days. I barely
had time to close my bathrobe in respect
for Mother Nature’s moist gifts and the few
passersby who might not appreciate being exposed
to my almost sixty-nine year old naked body.

The problem with living alone?
There's no one here to wake me
if I dream too loud.

Yes, I’ll be sixty-nine years old in May.
Not sure how I should feel about that.
I confess that often enough I get up

in the middle of the night  wondering
if I should be frightened by the fact
that everybody seems to be dying
around my body or pleased that it’s not me.
Some die old, some younger, some
linger longer than they should, while others
rumble through this existence so fast
It’s hard to tell if they were ever here at all.

Sixty-nine looks to be an annoying year.
Not that sixty-nine as a birth-age
is less remarkable as any other age.
It’s more about the sexual connotation
associated with the number 69.
“Woodie, how old will you be in May?”
“I’ll be exactly sixty-nine years old.”
“Sixty-nine!” they’ll say with a
Beavis and Butt-head chortle,
“Heh-heh! He said sixty-nine!
Heh-heh, heh-heh, heh!”

10 Raincoat
April, nineteen sixty-nine, flying out of Okinawa
a pit stop in Guam to refuel. I light up a cigarette with
the Zippo the guys gave me right before I escaped ‘Nam.
Inscription on the lighter’s silver body:
“From the Boys in the Nasty”
A faded map of Guam on a wall in the airport.
Next to the map there’s a picture (piss-yellowed by age)
of a local jungle hilltop. I look closer at the battered
photograph and see something buried inside,
deep behind all that thick, green jungle foliage . . .
a dark-brick building, weathered, crumbling,
a monastery, a church, maybe? In between drags
off my Marlboro light, I make a solemn vow:
someday I’ll come back to Gaum, find that hilltop
and explore that monastery or church or whatever
the fuck it is. But why, I mean, I just got the fuck
out of a jungle! I wanna crawl back into another one?
It makes no sense but I promise anyway and,
of course, I never go back.

Two years later, out of the Corps, sitting in a bar.
“Hey, man?” A voice from behind my barstool,
“You Woodie, right?”  I turn ‘round . . . a young guy
‘bout my age, a face full of shrapnel scars.
“Yeah?” I’ve no idea who this Frankenstein
looking motherfucker is, but he seems to know me.
“Come over and sit with us.” He leads me
to a corner in the back by the pool tables where
two other dudes sit. Under the pool table lights
they look more like ghosts than men.  One guy,
burr cut, his left hand’s missing the pinky and ring finger.
The other guy looks squirrely, twitchy, unable to sit still,
never looks me right in the eye.  As I sit down I remember
something. Four years ago, my belovèd Corps
had this enlistment program. Enlist on a certain day
and you’ll go through boot camp with dudes
from your home town. These three, Frankenstein,
Half-hand and Squirrely-butt, where guys I went through
boot camp with. But damn if I remember ‘em.
Anyway, we start talking, drinking beer after beer,
and suddenly Squirrely-butt starts babbling about . . .
“Hey, remember that DI, that Gunnery Sergeant from
Porta Rico?” we all nod and smile. “He mustered us onto
the parade grounds the day of our graduation, Remember?
‘Men, most of you are heading for Vietnam. Some of you
won’t make it back . . . alive. So, I got some advice for you . . .
When you have sex with them women over there in Vietnam,
always wear a condom. I know, I know. What’s the point
of takin’ a shower if you’re gonna wear a raincoat, right?
Well, if you choose to go bareback on them girls,
your dick will fall off!  Men, don’t come home
without your dick!’”

That was the best life advice I’d ever gotten.
And to this day, I never leave the house
without a raincoat.
Written by Woodie
for his 69th B-day o5-23-17

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