An Older Man’s Prayer

Lord, let me age gracefully and gratefully.

Let me slip slow and soft into senescence.

Let my age be my age

And my life wrap round me,

Fitting me closely and comfortably like my favorite shoes.

Let me not chase young men’s goals.

The accomplishments of my youth were of my youth.

Let me, instead, know the victories of a life lived to this point, and the victories beyond, as they come.

Let me fight relentlessly and righteously against the ills of the world,

But against the ills not the ill.

Let me grow weaker than I might have been

And wiser than I have been.

Let me savor my earned aches and creaks

As commendations,

Reminders that my body still moves and works and strives to be better.

Let me struggle not to hold remembered shadows of days past

And things that might have been

But fight valiantly to build each new day.

Let me learn new lessons

And pass well won wisdom to those who will hear.

Let the total worth of my life

Be less than it will be

And greater than it has been.

Amen.

Old Boxer Love Song

The old boxer stands in the ring.

 

He sways a bit.

 

Just a bit.

 

There are scars,

Old battle wounds,

And bruises that are slow to heal.

 

Slower these days than when he was young.

 

His skin is rougher,

Thicker,

Than it once was.

 

Many blows.

 

Many fights.

 

Many losses.

 

He’s not as fast

Or strong.

 

Slower these days than when he was young.

 

He stands in the ring.

 

He returns to the ring,

Again and again.

 

He makes his stand in the ring.

 

He knows.

 

He can’t win in the locker room.

Ghosts linger

Ghosts linger

 

In the corners,

In the shadows,

In the edges.

 

Fragments of memories of shadows.

 

They cling.

 

They tug.

 

They wail,

Soft and low, a whisper in the dark.

 

Ghosts grasp with desperate fingers,

Held and holding,

A chained moment of choice,

Chains sunk deep in unremembered memory.

 

Ghosts drag,

Like anchors of cold fog,

Weighting each step.

 

 

No more.

 

Begone ghosts.

 

I release you.

Solitary World

T H I S is not a thought,

not a memory,

not a picture,

not a feeling.

 

These are words,

Made of shapes.

 

Curved lines that twist

On a page,

On a canvas

On a screen,

Through the air.

 

Curving lines

Angular lines

That represent a sound,

That when strung together represent a word

That when strung together represent….

Something…

 

Real.

 

Something tangible.

Something eternally fleeting,

A flashing moment of experience

Forever crystallized.

 

These lines won’t show you my midnight sky

With it’s cloud shrouded moon

And scattered crystal stars.

You won’t know my rising dawn,

Hiding the world in overwhelming light.

Can you smell my apple blossoms in the Spring

or feel my sharp autumn breeze tossing leaves,

Or hear the crickets and frogs from my front porch?

 

You can’t.

 

I wish you could.

 

I want to share.

I want to connect.

I ache to show someone,

You,

My world.

I want to touch

Perfectly.

 

I can’t.

 

This is the world through a glass, darkly.

 

 

Someday the glass will be removed and I’ll know and be known.

 

That will be a good day.

 

Until then, I have these words.

A Moment at Night

It’s dark when I get home.
The sun set long since.
I open the door and rise from the car…

I’m held by this night.

For a little while
I just stand.

The wind hisses through the dying leaves.
It sounds like the pages of a thousand books turning,
Like sleet sheeting against glass.

Leaves scurry across the drive
To and fro in the changing wind,
Like ghosts late for appointments.

The sky is so black it almost swallows the stars.
But,
If you stare long enough they stare crystal stares back at you.

It’s cold enough to feel the edge of it.
Not so cold as to drive me in.

I just stand
For a little while.

Why do I stand?
Why am I held?

The wind hisses in my ears.
Like a stranger whispering secrets that I can’t quite hear.

Leaves brush past,
Sometimes brushing my skin,
In transition from sky to earth.

This is the season of changes.
The edge of the fall.
The cusp of the long sleep.

The world holds still

And I stand

For a little while.

Man of the South

I am of the South.

Rooted in the rich dark soil,
The hard clays,
The deep swamps,
The pluff mud,
And sandy shores,
And the hard granite of high mountains,

Like the tobacco and cotton,
The sweet onion and low country tomato,
The rice, indigo and sorghum of present and past.

Birthed and raised in the warm, heavy air,

Redolent of azalea and magnolia,
Pork barbeque and Beaufort stew, and sweet tea,

Respired by my Grandfolk and their Grandfolk before.

What is the South?

Land?

Place?

It’s memories,

Stories,

Tales and histories.

It’s sweat and blood,
Tragic sorrow
and simple joys.
It’s homes and businesses and parks and secret fishing holes,
New built cities,
And near-forgotten towns.

It’s the memories of all of those.
The dreams of all those to come.

It’s the weight of us pressing on the skin of the world.

It’s the tale told that tells us who we are.

This is me,

Man of the South.

Another Autumn

The air cools.

Not biting
But nibbling with tiny teeth.

The county fair always brings the chill,
Dragging winter slowly behind like a carnival trailer.

Lights and music and carny barkers,
Rigged games,
The sizzle and smell of all things fried,
Prize winning animals,
Pies and amateur art and firemen showing off their big red truck.

Autumn arrives with a sideshow.

The trees settle in again,
Turning to the long sleep
With brilliant blazes of beauty.
Settling their own colored blankets at their own feet.
Stark limbs reach high into colder nights.

Fall floats in with a rain of leaves.

It’s the time of sweaters,
Thick socks,
Warm drinks and warm blankets.

The sunset of the turning year.

The air cools.