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Lamentations of a Quinquagenarian - Poetry from Bachelorhood in My 50's

Updated on April 28, 2011

Part I

This series was written during the bachelorhood of my fifties, after a divorce. I had enjoyed great spiritual growth and uplifting experiences during this time, but I felt I needed to create more somber stories for the cathartic release I was still seeking. Being in my fifties, I saw the subject of aging as an irresistible setting for this latest journey into the woes of my soul. I saw opportunities to create images and moods I wouldn’t have found elsewhere. What follows are the results:

Expression One:

My course through life has brought me

Finally to the mirror of my mind’s eye,

That I might see myself—my soul.

And, looking deeper than e’er before,

I see, to my wonder, as if through a window

To the world, a rainy day, the gray gloom

Drizzling through the cold glass

Of the wet window from overcast sky,

Dreary and weary, but dauntless

In its endless make of a sad patter

On the shivering leaves of stolid trees

Looking down on watery ringlets quickly appearing,

Then disappearing at once on paved stone,

Pressed by some forgotten tool,

Drawn by flesh

No longer there.

Oh! forgotten the days when trees

Looked happily up through blue skies,

At flooding light of warmth—And

Laughing children in freedom of heart

Played under their shade,

And love permeated

Ever as thoroughly as the sun, and

The soul flourished, spawned through

The strength of the earth, yet alive,

Never entombed under slab of man-made stone!

Expression Two:

When did I arrive here?

How long has it been?

I am ever floating between the memories

Of an eternal, dark past, and formless and

Ever-receding dreams of the future,

With its disembodied hopes of good things

And the imagined shadow of painless Rest.

Thus floating, I cannot get a foothold

To take steps toward my goals, nor even

Toward the peaceful slumber of the grave.

Sounds are muted, vision is dim.

Why the capacity to dream,

But not the power to fulfill such wishes?

Where are the fruits of my intelligence,

The sails of my talents,

Or the wind to fill them?

And what have I done that could be written

On the pages of fifty years?

Carelessly dodged, the words of wisdom

From so long ago!

Lost through time, and even if found,

Vitrified and crumbling—my decayed epitaph

Which came and settled into the ground without me.

I have but one chance.

Why just one chance?

Can I not be like the rain, which

Comes as the moisture that can never be destroyed,

But cycles again between land and sea?—

Or even as the dust of the earth, which,

After swept away, travels on the breeze

Or under foot to return anew?

But onward advance my goals, ahead of my reach,

Like in a dream where I cannot work my legs

Fast enough to move ahead.

Therefore, advance forever forward,

O my dreams! and even the salve of my Rest!

For then I will say, though be it with hollow victory,

That I have achieved that which others

So desperately seek;

The curse of immortality!

Expression Three:

What is happiness?

What is love?

If I see happiness, it is only that of others.

If I see love, it is only that manifested

Through their curious actions.

Do I understand love? It comes to me

In the guise of lust and ideal dreams

That can never be,

For fairy tales do not continue—they end

With the setting of the sun, or the closing of a book.

Love has another name that I do not recognize.

It has a vision known only to others. It has

A feeling, an emotion not given to me; or if so,

It has burned brightly, briefly, once

In a segment of memory that is now

Only an ashen dream,

Burned so completely

As to erase its image,

Leaving a singed heart

Which cannot feel,

Yet never ceases

To hurt.

The birds’ song is not music to me;

It is only evidence

That they know what I’ve been denied.

If I do not feel love,

Then why do I feel the loss of love?

And what power the heart!

I’ve seen physical pain,

The loss of limb and of sense.

The weakest of their victims

Did not cry over such torture,

But the strongest have shed tears

Over mere words,

Over memories,

Over lost dreams and lost love!

Expression Four:

Dark shadows become solid to surround and arrest me.

I try to look up, but the heart bows down,

And so do I,

And the dead leaves and dusty, broken twigs I know too well.

O, lust of Babylon, that—with odorless light

And delicious fantasies—

Enters the mind with promise of miraculous heights,

But with stealth

Dumps the stinking filth of corruption

Into the rushing and eager blood stream

At the very moment of the denial of the lie!

And thus bloated I am fatigued

And drained of the will to fight.

How is it done? How is it done,

This victory over Babylon?

Where is the magical formula or potion

That would give one deliverance

From this imposing charlatan?

O you magical deliverer,

You quasi-tangible spirit of some

Evasive, complete fruit that would

Fill the soul to overflowing,

Give life to all emotions,

Satiate all the wonderful lusty appetites

Of mind and body—

You evasive entity felt when colors refract silently

Through an angled corner of glass

In darkened room,

Or when hearing a chorus

Of distant, soft, angelic flutings—

Why do you evade my focus, my gaze, my quest?—

For you seem to promise my deliverance

From your counterfeit.

As the poet has said, thy passing,

Though not remembered,

Is truly grieved even by the wind.*

And by the voice of the wind

I am caused again to bow my head down.

How is it done? How is it done?

How, oh, how?

And when is it done?

When, oh when?

* Thomas Wolfe, Look Homeward, Angel (Published by Simon & Schuster)

Destroying Angel

I am the destroying angel of the mysteries of the world!

I reach for the sunlight,but it fades at my mere attempt.

I see love, with hope and faith.

I touch them and they turn to dust.

I see cities, and trails which arch the heavens,

Sparkling musical fantasies waiting to sing!

I follow a plan to build them all,

And soon I hold their death in my hand.

The world paints a curious thing;

I stand in the way and watch.

But interaction is force to dissolve,

As my movement sets it melting away.

What dream consummates the vision?

What thought is bought and sold?

The image mocks my failure to live it;

So I will destroy it; in this, I control!

I am the destroying angel

Of the mysteries of the world!

Young at Heart

Fly the sky on the wings of your fancy!

Soar through the air over water and tree.

Then you are come to see in the meadow

The course of a child, running and free.

He runs from you, but you can’t see

His eyes or his mouth; only his back.

He sings! he sings but you cannot hear

His words or why he’s chosen this track.

Wide you swing and gain on him

To see his face, to catch a view.

But magically his course is turned,

And once again he runs from you.

Again and again the child escapes,

Ever turning his back anew.

So, then with voice you call to him,

Calling again ‘til he turns to you.

He turns to you while running still,

And now he lets you gain on him.

Startled, you see to your dismay

The face of a man, with double chin.

Your shock you try your best to hide,

As changing sense changes vision:

What once was song, is now a dirge;

What once was youth, aging tension.

He is not smiling, but limps with pain.

Unfocused eyes reveal the lost.

Meekness tells of sorrows past,

Hardness tells what love has cost.

His eyes meet yours and you see his soul

And now a whole new world opens:

Once again you see his youth—

The best of life in rugged seasons.

He turns; ne’er more you see his face,

Except in dreams of time to come.

And except you gaze deep from the heart,

Never again his face is young.


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    • sameerk profile image


      7 years ago from India

      nice one,loved it


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