Hair, shot with gray.
Cut, less than good;
at least the scalp’s not flaking
with the new shampoo.
starting to furrow, starting to line,
starting to bag and sag in wrong places
and much fuller than it was, much
present for thirty years in this form –
the only thing the same from when I was,
arguably, at my peak of flavor.
(In fact, let us use that word
as a whole body descriptor,
let us say that as a whole
I am undistiguished except as
noted.) Shoulders the same.
Here and there a skin tag
which some claim
is proof of heart disease
as if shape and diet were not clues
enough — I assume I have
heart disease, it is one of the few things
I am sure of and as such it makes me
undistinguished as an overweight American
Chest, furry. Bigger tits
than I should have. Currently,
I have some great and knifing pains
in my right upper chest, strong enough
to take away my breath, pains that slice
from front to back, from nipple to blade.
Right side argues against heart attack;
I go instead with pulled muscle, or strain
from sleeping wrong; part of me
hopes I’m wrong as it will add to the value
of this poem in my Body Of Work
if I die after writing this — don’t you agree?
Arms, undistinguished. Hands
weirdly lined, a palmist’s wet dream;
joints just recently stiff in the morning.
My eyes suck, barely catching light;
I gotta shout out my ears instead.
My ears support my hands in what they do –
writing, playing music, meddling
in others’ opinions and business.
I don’t know it happened,
but I have a voice that is far better
Brain? Can’t we just
let the soup and stew up there
do for themselves?
Perhaps that can be
for another day? It’s not
a chemistry to admire,
or strive for. It’s not like
I haven’t got enough documentation
already on that — look at the bottom shelf,
all those books I’ve written, all those
piles of poetry, all those lines.
There must be formulas somewhere.
prodigious, not at all
undistinguished but in fact
a salient and unmistakable feature;
all in all, these days the most memorable
feature. Bullet hole scars all over it
from surgeries, not injuries. I have not
been well, not at all, not for a while.
I have a partial set, a half empty
glass. I will explain the next time
I’m drunk, if I remember, if
I’m in the mood, if you earn
the right to hear it,
if I want to.
What’s here works,
Thighs and knees and shins?
and horned and rimmed with callus;
undistinguished if craggy.
All in all, not horror show,
Not at all the worst,
not at all the best; mostly
from tens of millions of fat older men.
So asking me how I feel ought to be
I hope you are listening…
I feel insulted by the dumb young
even as I am exalted by myself.
Think of a slice of heaven
as you would like heaven to be.
For me, it is a dark bliss bubbling over, a pot
of warm molasses, a scrap on the stove
I forgot to clean or put away…
don’t you see how vain I still am?
In this I am indistinguishable from all others.
This body is being forgotten
by those too pleased with being young to understand
how an old body makes richer music.
They may think it plays like a poor heart song –
no. Every mad note of it, scoffers,
every mad note
is still remarkable.