Daily Archives: May 7, 2018

Old Warrior

NOTE:  this is the 3000th poem posted on this blog since January 1, 2010.  

You know better
but you can’t help it:
you were a hard threat
for so long,
you maintain the fiction
that you still are

although you’ve been
diminished, so shrunken
by time and awareness
of your own limits,

that holding onto 
the past seems less intimidating
than adapting
to the new you.

Puffed up and packing.
Face carved into snarl.
Hand hovers by pocket
and eyes flick around
and up and down;

all a show,
all a memory play. 
No one buys it
except you.

You keep hoping
it will all come back to you
if necessary. That your hands
will regain speed, your legs
strength, the brightness
will come back to your eyes
and all the reflexes you treasured
will reset and 

in that moment
will remember how
not to be killed,
how to defend yourself,
how to do again whatever
you might need to do.

But let’s face it, sport:

if something happens
you’re not ready
and you won’t be —

so if we’re all going to be
at last on a war footing,
you’ll be fodder only,
at most a slight delay
in the path of someone
more able to fight.

It’s possible that small role 
is what you were born for —
no noble pedestal for you
after you fall,

perhaps for you not even
the gratitude given 
to the anonymous resister
long after the war ends;

it’s possible
you were born for no reason
except to be expendable,
old warrior,

and what more could you ask for?


There are immeasurable things.

I don’t care what science says;
as important and respectable as it is
and as important and respectable
as we must be in rendering to it
all of what it deserves,

there are immeasurable things
that long for a scale made
from dragon tears, or for tears made
from dragon scales; there are tales
that are true with no evidence of their truth
and imaginary mountains as daunting
as any solid range.  

Scoffers will tell you otherwise, of course.
Skeptics will snap and snipe you silly.
Ridicule for breakfast, scorn for dinner,
a diet of derision all day long
and pretty soon you will start to starve
from all the trash bile you’ll be consuming.

In the midst of that remember
that there are things worth holding
that you cannot hold and beings worth knowing
who will not manifest before you. 
Among the mountains you cannot climb
are valleys where you can rest
and the map you must use to get there

is undrawn, unprinted,
as solid as dragon scales
and as clear as the fog 
around the tops of those mountains.

You’re in the foothills now
just by reading this. If you think
it’s nonsense and you turn away
it’s nonsense.

If you decide to follow
it’s still nonsense.

If you follow to the end.
If you follow it partway.
If you take one step toward it
it’s still nonsense,
an immeasurable country,
a borderland where you might belong.