When I reach the age of Elvis crucified,
two years and small change from now,
I shall have been 33 years a missionary:
singing love songs to the deaf;
painting pictures for the blind;
copying manuscript parts to hand out
to a toneless, voiceless choir;
dancing for a stoic crowd
of cynical philosophers.
At that time, like Rimbaud,
I shall have been a serious poet
for seventeen years.
And like young Arthur, who cast aside
his disillusion and grandiose angst,
I shall endeavor to never preach
The prayer book from which I read,
the liturgy crafted lovingly from my own sweat,
whose matins I have sung at dawn,
its vespers whispered to the fickle fingers
I shall renounce.
My voice, that grows tired of its own echo
in the empty hall;
my fingers, that have worn down the ivory keys
of life’s tempered clavichord;
my mind, that seeks to claim some vain energy
by which to transform, incandescent,
the darkness —
these tools I will abandon.
In these score and thirteen years,
with the coin of Caesar I have been paid:
the pennies of disillusion,
the nickels of apathy,
the dimes of indifference;
and within the span of the next 700 days, or so,
I shall have accumulated
to return to sender
what talents the gods have sent me,
Unless, of course, I win the lottery.
Because, as Hemingway observed,
the rich are different from the rest of us:
they have money.
19 AUG 2004