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A Clap Back at Old Age

by James Robert Rudolph

Aging is a goon, overmuscled,
a mountain of a thing, undisciplined,
doesn’t see the need to be otherwise,
doesn’t have to.

Sloppy, reckless excess sloughs off it
like virus from a carrier, it’s drunken and wolfish,
careless as an oil slick.

Here it comes, barreling through,
ruddy and bearded, unkempt as a vagrant,
looking slighted, smarting, always,
indignant for some unspecified redress,
insistent as an army marauding the fields.
Death has its back like a brother,
such hearty comrades they are,
a bad pair.

And yet, and yet, such small things,
a firefly on a summer’s night, just like
when she was a slender girl, she remembers,
and the holding of worn hands,
clasped now as ever before, just as warm.
These are rebukes.
They may not prevail,
but they will not softly yield.

So careen on, loutish and cudgeled,
unwelcome in decent places,
but know you will not leave unshamed,
the talk of you is harsh and freely expressed,
a hard consensus follows you out the door.

Copyright © 2021 by James Robert Rudolph

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