Life is Not a Metaphor At All now, is it?

March 4, 2006 at 2:33 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
Okay, I guess I need a disclaimer here. I wrote this piece over 12 years ago, when we went to visit my wife’s grandfather in a nursing home, and my son was probably 4 or 5. The guy was about 100, really. At least 95 or so. The nursing home visit made a lasting impression on me. This was the first poetry I had written in about 8 years, and I haven’t written any since. People who write poetry are whacked in the head. I stand by that. I was actually looking for a different piece, a funny piece, that I had written about a car from that long ago, and I can’t find it.Life is not a Metaphor


It was quite a while back
Or was it?
So we’ll see how well I
Or was it—
This morning, on a visit
To the living dead, the
walking lifeless
The eyes that are too old and
To show despair
Or acceptance
Of what this mortal state,
This dubious existence
Has left them, like crumbs,
like scraps,
Like a bowl of something left
In the bottom near the back
of the refrigerator
Behind the cheese whiz
Who knows what it is, exactly
Who remembers?
But we’ve kept it long enough
so its time to
Throw it out.

So you take it, through a
feeding tube
For days on end, slowly
But life is not a metaphor,
not simile
Not literary imagery, or
Life is not poetic, so just–
The real nitty-gritty, the
When you grow old and you are
Queued up to die
Your muscles don’t respond
Your nose can’t smell the
That your body can’t hold
Your eyes don’t see the fetid
organic filth
That you are now living in
Your ears won’t hear the
Talking, chatting, gossiping,
cursing work
And cleaning up after you
Carting off another one
And they clean up the room
and spray it
And change the sheets
And welcome another resident
To life’s holding pattern

The sitting, staring nowhere,
carted from place to place
The patronizing that I accept
A view of the cemetery
Is it a nice day? How do we
Are you drugged? Have your
bowels moved?

Great-grandfather, my
ancestor—will I follow you
Will my fate be as yours, and
what it worse?
As you wander aimlessly these
stained and dirty halls
Drained of hope, drained of
And ask everyone you see
Have you seen my beloved wife?
She was just here at my side.
. . .

Meanwhile as the days flow
like sand
Through someone else’s
And life goes on for everyone
else but you
Your worthless body winds
And you are carted from room
to room, to hall to patio
For a brief respite. . . for them
Your foggy gray mind lets
loose of your cherished
Memories and feelings
They are all that you have
And they betray you and leave you,
One by one.

There is a fog, it’s true, but sometimes
Clarity seeps through
Despite me
Am I now my own great-grandfather
Who I once came to see
And is this small child
standing before me,
Not understanding—
Is he me?
I don’t know what’s going on
But I remember that day so long ago.. .

And I imagine it is the same




1 Comment »

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  1. While reading this poem I stopped thinking. I always think of something… this or that, but this time I stopped. Something captured me there and wouldn’t let go. It felt like dragging and I was willing to fallow. Then the strange thing… It became hard to read, letters blurry and my eyes unfocused. The next ten seconds passed unconsciously pondering on the burning sensation on my cheeks. I gingerly touched them and… they were wet. Was I crying? I never ever cried because of the poem, I’m not this type. But so I cried.
    I always spilled my tears in words. Poetry – it makes me stronger, maybe… wet honesty on the sheet of parchment. You snapped something inside me… I think I even heard it. It was your honesty this time, spilled on the sheet of paper and true.
    And I thank you, for making me remember what it feels to cry “outside”.
    Still teary and yours
    P.S. are you calling me whacked? negodiai

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