I used to do it
all the time
and I was even
fairly good at it
but now with
my sometimes aching
fingers and diminished
ability regarding rhythm
I play about twice a year
and tonight I picked up
my daughter’s acoustic guitar
because my own
is all out of tune
and hidden behind
old books and older LPs
and after looking everywhere
for one of her guitar picks
and not finding where
she stashes them
I sat in the dining room
held the guitar in my hands
and looked around until
I found next to my spot
on the dining room table
an expired AARP membership card
which I put between my fingers
then tried to figure out
the chords to the old
Tom Waits tune
and like a subway
stuck on the tracks
somewhere in Brooklyn
I didn’t get anywhere close to it
which isn’t to say
this is only reason
Photograph by Jose Padua
Posted in 3. Literature, 5. Music, Memoir, New York, Photography, Poetry
Tagged AARP, aging, Downtown Train, Jose Padua, poem, Poetry, Tom Waits
I admit to having been less than enlightened about a lot of things in my youth. And while there were some areas where I was ahead of the curve, there were many where I was behind. That’s what growing old and growing up is for—to fill in those gaps of knowledge, those dark spots of ignorance and to overcome the many irrational, ill-informed fears that come from not having been around all that long.
And one thing I learned in those years—or perhaps I should say ‘decades’ rather than just years—of filling in those gaps was this: If you ever by chance run into those people who for whatever reason screwed you over or treated you like dirt or used you as a stepping stone to get somewhere and abandoned you as soon as they got there, don’t just turn away, remembering and sometimes reliving the anger and betrayal you felt. Take a deep breath, and close your eyes if you have to, and think of how far you’ve gone since the last time you saw this person. Then let that anger slip away, disappear.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still tell these people to go fuck themselves. You should. It’s just that when you tell them to go fuck themselves you should say it with love in your heart before walking away, and out of their lives, forever. And, as you walk away, raise your arm and lift your middle finger. Just in case they’re watching.
I realize some of you will say that, in itself, the act of telling people to go fuck themselves means a person has a long way to go before he’s reached his potential as a complete, mature, and contented human being. Fuck you.
This is a photograph of some sheep sitting under a tree.
Photograph by Jose Padua
When I gave the panhandler some spare change
he looked at me and said Thank You then he
looked at the person next to me and said
Thank You again. I was alone, at the time,
and this was thirty years ago, but ever since
that moment I’ve been waiting for the day
when I can see that other person beside me—
the person the panhandler said Thank You
to right after he thanked me. I know there
will be days ahead when I’ve taken a break
from knowing things. When things stop
coming to me and instead begin slipping away
like the sound of voices sliding through a city’s
blank spaces, or long goodbyes that never
seem to finish and never bring an end to things.
I think by then it will be good to see that person
no one else sees now. Because I’m sure that person
will have the answers to all the questions
I never get around to asking anymore. Like
where is there to go this early spring night as I
stand tilted in my winter coat against the wind?
The photograph was taken in Baltimore, MD by Jose Padua.