by Michael Lee Johnson
When you get old
you leave everything behind-
present tense past tense,
hangers on refusing to turn loose,
high school letter sweaters, varsity
woolen jackets, yearbooks 1965,
covers that quickly open, slam shut-
high school romances only faces
where they were then-
ice cubes frozen in time.
No more teary eyes,
moist match heads
igniting bedroom sheets
and teenage bedside rumors.
You leave wife, or wives
behind toss out your youthful affairs.
All single events were just encounters,
cardiac dry ice, ladies with crimson clover eyes.
No more strings tightened, broken bows,
heart dreams slit vows, melancholy violin romances.
You continue leaving reading glasses, key chain, ATM card,
senior discount cards, footnotes are your history,
artificial sweeteners, doctor appointments daily,
keep touching those piano notes, phone numbers in sequence
in tattered address books, names attached to memories
Everything rhymes with plural thoughts and foggy memories.
Youth was a bullyboy club-
the older I get the less I’m battered-
trust me I got witnesses in between-
saviors of wings, fantasies,
tense has no grammatical corrector,
it always dances around the rim of red wine.
Life now fills with silver teaspoons
of empty senior moments-
blank shells of present, past tense,
and yank me back recalls.
Do you remember those 1st 25 years?
Shrinking brain space remembers
dances of sporadic nighttime boogies,
sports, senior prom, Thomas’s Drive-In,
Spin-It-Record Shop, Dick Biondi,
WLS Chicago top 100.
Remember the next 25 years?
high school reunions grow dimmer-
priest of the voodoo dolls punch in numbers
of once living and now dead-
Rise forward from your medieval pews.
Wherever you now live,
do you remember these things-
prayer, ghosts deep in the
pockets of our former youth.
Old age waits patiently in the face
of a full moon-a new generation.
When you get old
you leave everything behind.
Michael Lee Johnson lived ten years in Canada during the Vietnam era. Today he is a poet, freelance writer, photographer, and small business owner in Itasca, Illinois, who has been published in more than 750 small press magazines in twenty-five countries, he edits seven poetry sites. Michael has released The Lost American: From Exile to Freedom (136 page book), several chapbooks Of his poetry, including From Which Place the Morning Rises and Challenge of Night and Day, and Chicago Poems. He also has over 66 poetry videos on YouTube.