Old at Forty-Four
children tell me that IÂm old.
Forty-four-years-old and still not Âon line.Â
them I like to browse down aisles in the public
if inspecting an autumn crop of vine-ripened
only adds to their growing belief.
So I write
them letters. ÂOff lineÂ I say.
letters. Letters in praise of good grades.
asking what filled their lunch boxes that day in school.
stuff that one would write Âon line,Â
words come tucked inside a cardboard sandwich
Van Gogh painting, or a comic from the Peanuts Gang.
comes from the Hallmark Store.
although my typeface options are a bit limited,
mine. Even the face that blots from time-to-time;
spills over from holding too much love.
I like to
think of it that way anyhow.
I am old too because I donÂt own a cell phone.
cool like that. Both of my hands still manage
to stay on
the wheel while IÂm driving.
again, thatÂs not cool either.
land-locked phone, I call them from
of paradise that is my bed.
me from the prison cell that is their computer.
taking them back for a visit
to the old
out more smells and sounds than sights.
train whistle that warned us kids to
the tracks, long before the creaky old joints
metal contraption ever snaked into view around the bend.
one whiff of my motherÂs yellow cake with chocolate icing
oven would remind everyone of a family memberÂs
without ever having to look up the date
cheap-ass Seaway Bank calendar that came free
Christmas when you opened a passbook savings account.
think IÂm old because I prefer
Brown to Bobby Brown.
that?Â they ask.
James Brown?Â I say with the dumbness
atheist in a confessional.
is Bobby Brown?Â
remind me, ÂWhy write when you can call.Â
when you can visit,Â I volley back.
when you can never leave the house
talk to all of your friends at once on line.Â
just no way to answer that without being thought
every one of those forty-four-years.
So I stay
at home a read book instead.
Shakespreare. Langston Hughes. Willa Cather. And Countee Cullen.
the Maters,Â I tell them.
they keep me alive.Â
not reading, IÂm writing poetry.
deference to an emperor, I prefer meter.
challenging so it takes more time.
words spill forth upon my childrenÂs ears
spoken in some foreign literary slang.
hearing an Âold schoolÂ Curtis Blow rap album.
occasion, though, just for kicks,
in some free verse.
remind them that I can still be young and foolish.