Pain-Free

To envy the body 
of a younger man,

even if that man is you
some years back
when you still took the words
“pain-free”
as a given
unless you’d just done something
to warrant pain and you knew 
it would pass sooner or later;

to envy such a body as yours
would seem ludicrous,
I am certain,
to those who knew you then
and know you now.

Still you are indeed envious
of that body that did
more or less what was asked of it
with minimal complaint

unlike this one which
burns with urgency
every morning upon waking,
stumbles creaking toward the bathroom,
demands that you put
a steadying hand on the wall
when you step onto a scale
that is barely one inch tall;

unlike this one which, 
when you least expect it,
breaks down at the butcher block,
head down, hands over
its dimming eyes, seeking 
a second of relief, of pretending
that “pain-free” is still possible;

unlike this one
which every day
feels more and more
like a warped 
ancient chariot
rattling around
on broken Roman roads 
with you inside it 
on a headlong rush
to ruin.

To envy yourself as a younger man
back when you felt like a centurion
or at least a foot soldier building an empire
may seem ludicrous to some,

but in the mirror you can still see him,
and you want to reach in 
and shake him and smash him
until he gives you back your temple.

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About Tony Brown

A poet with a history in slam, lots of publications; my personal poetry and a little bit of daily life and opinions. Read the page called "About..." for the details. View all posts by Tony Brown

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