A Thing Gets Old: ottava rima


A thing gets old because it starts out young
and in the spring has little or no care;
of consequence and karma, yet unsprung
in early life, it remains unaware.
Perhaps in early August, comes a sign:
an aching in the knees on summer nights;
still youth imagines everything is fine,
and pushes ever onward, come what might.
The spring and summer can’t imagine snow,
nor feel the cold that only winter knows.

A thing starts to get old once it is born;
it yearns for growing up, and fails to guess
that once maturity arrives, it forms
an outline for a coffin, more or less,
the narrow limit into which one’s life
is slowly shrunk and whittled down to fit.
The miles and years prune new growth like a knife;
a slight pain first, then you get used to it.
So spring and summer’s sap is drawn away,
until at last the first September day.

A thing is old inside while still a child,
when talent and potential seem so vast;
thus, even when it grows unchecked and wild,
each spurt of life fades quickly in the past.
The flame burning in June so bright and cruel
it catches fire to the surrounding wood,
so quickly can exhaust its store of fuel
and leave but soot and ash where forests stood.
How gray and cold November’s earth can seem,
when March and April’s frolics are but dream.

A thing gets old because that’s what things do:
each born carries a bury in its heart;
a life is but a journey to get through,
there is an end in everything that starts.
What’s sown in spring is harvested in fall;
the rains of summer feed December’s snow.
If you would have a part, you must take all;
to miss a piece, one might as well not go.
Yet who would dance less hard or long in Spring,
just knowing the hard Winter it would bring?

10 APR 2017

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Here is the Crossroads


Here is the crossroads where you finally know
you’re too old to say you’ll die young.
It’s early summer; fall’s on the horizon.
Your spring has most definitely sprung.

It’s not about giving up on your wild days,
but some dreams must wither and die.
Sooner or later the moving parts wear out;
to think otherwise is to lie.

What was appealing in the hope of vanity,
the religion of your youth,
just lingers on as weary, sad echo;
embarrassing, to tell the truth.

You will get older; or else, the alternative:
cease to get any at all.
If you’re not into the dog days of summer,
there’s no way to make it through fall.

Here is the crossroads where you must decide
for the future, or cling to the past;
let the illusion you’re living youth’s fantasy
go, or else you might not last.

26 APR 2007

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‘Til I Die


Maybe I’m a dreamer, but I sure don’t want to be
one of those two old guys sitting in the balcony:
a grizzled, bitter muppet who makes fun of everything
and never gets up off his ass, and on the stage to sing.

Maybe I’m a geezer, but I’ve got a youthful heart
that’s ready, anytime, to get on stage and do my part;
could be that I’ll look foolish, but I’ve done that bit before:
been some kind of a fool for almost thirty years or more.

‘Cause I can play the guitar and sing circles ’round a song;
the feeling that I get on stage can’t possibly be wrong:
that you can change the world with music, if you only try.
I’ll be an old musician, ’til I die.

Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I learned back in the day
that every kind of music’s good, in its own unique way;
from Lawrence Welk and Hee-Haw, and the Porter Wagoner show
I figured out there is no song that you can’t make your own.

Maybe it’s kinda crazy, but I wish you’d take a chance
on an old guitar picker who’s too old to learn to dance;
together, we could play some things that are worth listening to,
and change the world, if only for a brief hour or two.

‘Cause I can play the guitar; hell, I’ve played for thirty years;
that should be worth some to you, at the start of your career:
let my voice of experience assist you while you try.
to grow as a musician, ’til you die.

Maybe I’m a dreamer, my whole life spent out of sync;
why ain’t he rich or famous, I can hear some of you think.
You’re right, to some degree, but money ain’t the only thing.
Sometimes, the prize is that you get to sing.

18 JAN 2007

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Seasons After Spring


I’m just an outlaw over 40
with no airtime on the radio today
where each hot new hit’s a retrofit
of juvenile emotion and cliche;
but I’m laughing at the demographics
every time I get a chance to play
’cause for me real country music isn’t
about some gold records on display.

I’m just an outlaw over 40
far beyond my prime for video appeal
where the song need tell no story
if the actors on the screen can keep it real;
and to write about the fight against
such fantasy can break your record deal.
I won’t say that it’s not country, but
it’s whistle steam that never turns the wheel.

Music’s not just for the young,
not an excuse to sell CDs.
It’s about speaking from your heart;
at least, that’s how it is for me.
If music doesn’t help you grow,
it’s not much good for anything;
and only growing older makes
songs that have seasons after spring.

I’m just an outlaw over 40
whose wild days of drinking binges are long past
and who’s started slowing down to find
those things along the path that tend to last.
You may laugh at my appearance
and believe this song should be played twice as fast;
but it’s not your song, it’s mine; when you
build your own car, you can waste your own gas.

I’m just an outlaw over 40
who can’t line dance or pretend it’s not too loud
if I can’t hear myself think, and tend to
get a little frightened by the crowd
that is full of fight and vinegar, not doing much
but acting tough and proud.
I won’t say that’s not my country, but
intruding on my space is not allowed.

Music’s not just for the young,
to sell some product on TV.
It’s about sharing of your life;
at least, that’s how it is for me.
If music doesn’t help you learn,
it’s not much good for anything;
and only learning to grow old
makes songs with seasons after spring.

19 NOV 2005

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My once sweet voice


My once sweet voice, so innocent
and full of strength and power
is now reduced to rasp and hum,
its range half what it was.

It rumbles, where it once so glibly
glissed; the pure head tone
has sunk into my heavy chest
and breaks where it once slid.

Disuse, abuse and pure neglect
have left my instrument
(once proud and fearless,
capable of stratospheric feats)

dented and dusty, ill-repaired,
and painfully withdrawn.
It’s clear unless I brush it off,
and soon, it will be gone.

23 JUN 2005

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When Twilight Pales


When twilight pales your umber locks to grey
and lines the apples of your cheeks with care,
takes the wind from your merry laugh, so gay,
and makes your step less sturdy on the stair,

remember this: I loved you from the first,
not for your youthful smile, nor supple limbs,
but instead for your spark, and constant thirst
to seek for substance beyond passing whims.

Who cares what strikes the fancy of the fool
that prizes most, and loves, at just a glance?
The mine is worth more than a single jewel,
whose value is determined just by chance.

For surface beauty is a passing phase;
it blooms in early spring, and then is past.
It will not warm the hearth through winter days,
nor serve as fuel to fire a love that lasts.

05 MAY 2005

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Tailormade


It may be that the swath through life I cut
runs down a different seam than I once thought
would turn into a finished garment; what
great pattern looked so perfect when I bought
it, now seems out of style and so ill-fitting
that it more suits a clown, like a disguise
designed to fool my parents, and their unwitting
support of crazy dreams, sad notions and white lies.

What were once intended as fine robes of sable
turn out to wear so quickly, and to fray
along the dragging edges; I’m not able
to hide the muddy edges where the lining’s worn away.
Yet pretending that my world is still defined
by clothes that make the man who isn’t there
is little more than dress-up play. Only a blind
fool would pretend they haven’t noticed, or don’t care.

And who would go to Mardi Gras in rags,
or celebrate a ball in some worn, shabby gown?
Even the poorest ne’er-do-well will drag
a pompous get-up from the closet to paintroll the town.
So that loose-fitting, monstrous thing I’ve sewn
will never do to be seen in or see;
‘tho built with care, its appeal has not grown,
nor does it portray who I’d like to be.

I stand, quite sadly, naked to the mirror,
that will not, though I’ve bribed it, tell a lie;
The bright light overhead just makes much clearer
those flaws I’ve tried to cover, by and by.
These yards of cloth, whose colors seemed to suit me
some years ago, now seem too bold and garish;
and scars from scissors mar the look completely.
I cannot leave the house. I’m too embarrassed.

Yet, I can’t bear to don a robe and sandals,
or throw some shapeless mumu round my girth.
Besides, such things just fuel the neighbor’s scandals
who like to cast aspersions on my worth.
Am I these clothes? This look? This sense of fashion?
They hardly seem to fit me or my dreams,
or match the style and vigor of my passions,
which masquerade in a t-shirt and jeans.

02 MAY 2005

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