Republishing with rewrite and reading audio added.
After 60 years of work, more or less,
I’ve decided to take a working vacation.
I’m booking a cruise and extended
train travels for the next 60 years
To go exploring along the coasts,
Poking my canoe up the inlets and rivers,
Probing the veins and wires and memories of
Some unfamiliar parts of me, and some
I’ve been missing for a while, to
See whether there’s anything
Worth saving, or maybe just toss it all out.
I hope to sit down at a cafe, occasionally,
Order hot, strong coffee and a bag of beignets,
Look sufficiently safe and vulnerable and mysterious,
Have a young Cajun girl with dark eyes come over,
Take a chair and steal one of my pastries,
Smile and flirt and tease with her youth and beauty,
Kiss me like she means to make a habit of it and
Say she finds me interesting enough for that, and not creepy.
(Old men’s dreams never tire of that one.)
The old chess pieces are all there, still covered in blood.
Time eats us alive and today I am one day older
Yet still younger than tomorrow.
I’ll get back to you about next month. I am
Set out on an uncertain enterprise,
With uncertain plans and unknown consequences.
Save me from myself, Oh Lord,
The cry in every throat.
Usually ignored by God
After so many sincere failures.