Daily Archives: December 16, 2004

On Reaching Forty in a Week

In a week I will be forty. If my mother’s right
it’s time to get my act together and find more delight
in doing what needs to be done to build something to show
for two score spent in dissipation watching the grass grow.

For forty years I’ve wandered, aimless (if you read my press)
and how I managed to survive is anybody’s guess;
but here I am an older man with little put aside
for rainy days and the malaise built up like muck inside.

And even though my mother (bless her and her dreams for me)
is likely to deny it or at best, just disagree,
the course for me is still unset, with mountains still to climb,
and wild paths yet to ramble left untraveled all this time.

I could have gone a different route, sought greater wealth and fame,
but had I come another path I would not be the same.
The stars are not much different in the sky as they were then;
they can be used to form new paths, not just trace might have beens.

And I have what I want, right now, though some would call it less
that what it should be. I seek out a greater happiness.
If I should last for forty more, undoubtedly, I’ll find
that my boat will at last reach shore — just where, I do not mind.

For ports and inns and treasure troves on wild, uncharted lands,
I’m sure will fade from memory like dry dust in my hands.
It’s only knowing who you are that makes a difference;
and taking forty years to learn that through experience

instead of scanning manuals, taking courses, reading signs,
has built a life worth living. And the best part? It is mine.
So forty comes and forty goes — it seems a lot of days.
All that was bad was my own fault, for good, I must give praise

to forces I’ve just glimpsed upon this often lonely trail,
that oft appear as wisps of smoke not some great holy grail.
I hope just this: the time to come, what’s left to me this round,
won’t seem like unimportant drivel, or just mumbled sound.

But forty’s just a number; it does not mean all that much:
some measure of maturity to lean on, like a crutch,
or use to force my issues down some young and eager throats
who’ve just started their seeking and still think they must take notes.

So I will taste of forty (a respectable old port)
and try to make the next four decades of a different sort.
I couldn’t do the same again, so what’s the point to try?
I’ll take each new day as it comes, and get there, by and by.

26 DEC 2004

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Passing Fancy

Having been notified by Google Alerts that a new service is available that takes your original website and scours the web to check and see if your content is found elsewhere (that is, borrowed liberally without permission), I give another thought to what has to be my favorite take on plagiarism:

Lermontov: “…and remember, my dear Mr. Krassner, it is far more disenheartening to have to steal, than to be stolen from.”

— from The Red Shoes, of course

In another sense, poetry (at least good poetry, in which the author has said something from their unique perspective) is as difficult to pass off as one’s own work, if it is not, as it is difficult to use someone else’s driver’s license and claim it is you. The fact of the matter is that driver’s license pictures are purposely so horrible (I have yet to see one, from any state, that manages to even vaguely flatter its owner) and these photos are so unlike the license holder, for the simple reason that only the REAL and authentic owner of such a license would claim that the picture contained thereon is themselves. There is something to be said, in many respects, for the ultimate audacity of truth.

And with poetry, it is I have discovered the same. After all, it is only the most audacious explanation of a poem’s meaning (and that is typically the one that is at the polar opposite extreme from any literary critic or literature professor’s interpretation, although it need not be, which oft surprises both the poet and the professor LOL) that is typically the one belonging to the author. Perhaps it is too simple, perhaps too obtuse. But an imposter trying to pass off the piece as their own work would NEVER use that particular exegesis. And other poets (if not the caffeine-laden, vapid dilettantes who frequent readings and slams and/or think themselves by virtue of their own pomposity and inflated sense of gothic me-o-centrism to be the next Plath, Rimbaud, Morrison, Shelley, Bukowski or whatever) can tell the difference. In a heartbeat.

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