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Poetry by Rachel A. Gold

Reflections, Of A Sort

Drew Hurley

Now that I am growing old --

past thirty, but I'll not admit to how much past --

I have had cause to reflect upon

the various stages of this demon

we call "old age."

What I have observed is both fascinating,

and frightening, to behold.

Desperate measure are called for.


. I now, too, have begun to experience

the hideous tragedy of growing old.

There is no wonder that it strikes such terror

in the hearts of men.

In a culture that places

such a heavy emphasis

upon catering to youth,

what can you expect to happen

to a man's ego when,

ten years ago the girls who would giggle

and flirt with him,

now pass him by without

the merest acknowledgement

of his mortal existence?

Desperate measures are called for.


. His job is no better.

Certainly, by now he has earned his little niche --

with all the right appertaining there unto --

but he now also realizes

that his treasured dreams

will never be fulfilled

(ah, GLORY,

thou fickle and fleeting apparition

that eludes us all!);

and the compromises that he made

to get himself to the haven he now enjoys

wear heavily upon his soul,

and he is never sure what the answer should be

when pressed by circumstances

to decide whether all of his efforts

were really worth it.

Desperate measures are called for.


. And his wife,

dear God, that is another story.

For one thing, she has turned to fat

and now, what doesn't shake like jello,

sags like an under-inflated balloon.

All the dreams of her life

have now evaporated and all that remains

is the hollow shell of promises unfulfilled --

which have left her bitter and resentful,

so she now nags him instead of confronting

the failures of her own life.

Desperate measures are called for.


. The children -- saints protect us.

How can such innocent babies

with their cuddlesome cuteness

be so quickly transformed

into thankless demons

constantly wanting more?

They are hardly out of training pants

and then they want the key to the car.

But the worse thing

is their condenscending attitude.

They are so free and easy; so loose.

They are sexy and attractive,

and they flaunt it and rub it in your face,

and God damn,

you wish you could show them a thing or two.

But the truth of the matter

is that they wouldn't care,

and you know it,

and you also know that there probably

isn't anything that they don't already know.

Though, what really gets you

is that they do it so openly

and without the guilt and anxiety

you knew when you were their age.

Babe, you're jealous.

Desperate measures are called for.


. Finally, something happens.

The string snaps within our tormented hero.

He says, "respectability be damned!"

And he gets his hair styled,

or buys a toupee.

He loses ten pounds and gets a new wardrobe.

He cruises the singles bars

and hopes to make a pick-up.

Mostly, he makes a fool of himself,

but sometimes he gets lucky and scores.

Sex like this is never very good

but it does help the ego --

"I did it! I did it!," he exclaims.

If his wife is basically decent

she'll lose a few pounds and try to win him back.

It is not that he really wants to go.

On the other hand,

if she has lost faith in herself,

she will become a shrew

and drive him from her

so that she can blame it on the other woman.

And the other woman

is only necessary because he is so urgently

in need of hearing someone tell him

that he is desired -- that he is needed.

Desperate measures are called for.


. So, there you have it:

the trauma of aging masculinity in America.

It is what happens when you begin

to realize that old age is happening to you.

Old men grow beards, drive sport cars,

smoke pot, and start cruising.

In some ways it is all so sad and comical,

and even a little pathetic.

Then you think of the alternative:

to lie down and accept death prematurely.

In that light, as sad and feeble

as this little human tragedy may be,

there is something here worthy of envy, too.

Because, in his own fumbling way,

this man is saying NO to death.

He is saying, "I'll take another chance on life,

and love, and living."

And however comical or tragic

this chance may be,

it is still an act

of great courage and bravery

and it, therefore, demands

our respect and admiriation.

After all, in a time

when desperate measures are called for,

don't we usually call the man

who takes up the gauntlet

our hero?

And, isn't he?

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Tuesday, 04-May-2010 14:47:49 EDT