Thursday, March 8, 2012

Reflections on a recent birthday

Well, this is a leap year, and I was born on February 29th, so I had a real birthday this year. I'm still a teenager, just turned 19. We traveled down to Denton, Texas, to share birthdays with our daughter, Barbara, whose birthday is February 26th. When she was living at home, we used to celebrate both birthdays on one day, usually hers. My birthday became even more special when I retired on it four years ago. Thought that was a wonderful present for myself. Still do.

I woke up in the middle of the night in the Inn we stayed at in Denton thinking about turning from 75 to 76. For me, 75 sounded so much better than 76. I couldn't get back to sleep because a poem started forming in my mind--damned subconscious keeps me awake by passing stuff to my conscious mind when I least want it to. I had most of this poem in my mind before I could get back to sleep. When I was able to work on it, I got it pretty much in the form it's in now.

Some thoughts on turning 76
I really liked being 75, 
and wonder how good 76 will be. 
Much better than the alternative. 

And better than shrimpy 74,
with 4 who lifts its arms to try 
to be as tall as 7 is.

But see the numbers in 75.
They stand erect and tall and square;
the few, the proud, Marine dress blue.

And 75 was a milestone year, 
three quarters of a century old, 
and 25 years in AARP.

Beware the 6 in 76. 
Its back is bent with age and grief, 
a man who shuffles with a cane. 

So when, I think, friends ask my age,
I’ll just stand proud and tall and jive 
and tell them that I’m 75. 

Spring is trying to happen here in Denver, but winter isn't giving up easily. We had three days in a row of 60 degree temps only to see the bottom fall out yesterday. It was 40 degrees colder for the high. I've been writing some haiku about the weather and seasons and the approaching full moon.

flat light of winter 
low clouds no sun dreary day 
makes us wish for spring 

the moon waxes large 
growing round as if pregnant 
her child will be spring 

spring peeks in the door
puddles warm air melting snow
but winter still reigns 

Just finished reading a verse novel just like epic poetry of old, Odyssey, Iliad, Il Paradiso, Paradise Lost. Its title is Ludlow and is written in iambic pentameter about the mining strikes in the early 20th Century and the bloodshed when the Colorado National Guard was sent there to break up the strikers' tent camp. David Mason, the Colorado poet laureate wrote Ludlow and did a magnificent job of telling this tale of hardship early in Colorado's history. If you are interested in poetry and history, here's a chance to read a contemporary epic poem.