Revised. Originally posted 6/10/2012.
Hair, sifted full of gray.
Cut, less than good.
The scalp’s not flaking
with the new shampoo.
starting to furrow, starting to line,
starting to bag and sag.
Fuller than it was, much rounder.
present for thirty years in this form —
the only thing the same from when I was,
arguably, at my peak of flavor.
In fact, let us from this point on
use that word
as a frequent descriptor.
Let us say that as a whole,
the body is undistiguished
except where noted otherwise.
Here and there skin tags
which some claim
are proof of heart disease
though they are not.
Bigger tits than I’d like.
I have some great and knifing pains
in my right upper chest, strong enough
to take my breath, pains that slice
from front to back, from nipple to blade.
Right side argues against heart attack;
I go instead with pulled muscle, or strain
from sleeping wrong; part of me
hopes I’m wrong as it will add to the value
of this poem in my Body Of Work
if I die after writing this,
wouldn’t you agree?
Arms, undistinguished. Hands
weirdly lined, a palmist’s dream or nightmare;
joints stiff as dry sticks every morning.
My eyes barely catch light.
My ears do my best work.
My ears support my hands in whatever they do
writing, playing music, meddling
in others’ opinions and business.
I don’t know how it happened,
but I have a voice that to the ears of others
is far better
Brain? Can’t we just
let the soup and stew up there
do for themselves? Perhaps that can be
left for another day? It’s not a chemistry to admire,
to emulate or strive for. It’s not like
I haven’t got enough documentation already on that;
look at the bottom shelf, all those
yet unpublished books I’ve written, all those
piles of poetry, all those lines.
There must be formulas somewhere.
Gut, prodigious, not at all
undistinguished but in fact
a salient and unmistakable feature;
all in all, these days the most memorable
feature. Bullet hole scars all over it
from surgeries, not injuries. I have not
been well, not at all, not for a while.
I have a partial set, a half empty
glass. I will explain the next time
I’m drunk, if I remember, if
I’m in the mood, if you earn
the right to hear it,
and if I want to. For now enough to know
that what’s here works,
Thighs and knees and shins? Chickenesque.
Feet? Cracked and horned and rimmed with callus;
they are undistinguished
All in all, not horror show,
not Chippendale’s. Not at all the worst ever,
not at all the best; mostly indistinguishable
from tens of millions of fat older men.
Asking me how I feel ought to be
I hope you are listening.
I feel exalted.
Think of a slice of heaven
as you would like heaven to be.
For me, it is a dark bliss bubbling over, a pot
of warm molasses, a scrap on the stove
I forgot to clean or put away.
This body may soon be forgotten
by those too pleased
with being young to understand
how an older body makes richer music.
They may think it plays a poorer score
no. Every mad note of it, scoffers,
every mad note is still remarkable,
and I am a Goddamn hallelujah chorus
because I am holy and wholly
who I am.