I pour myself four fingers, or maybe it is five,
sit in a broken rocker and slowly close my eyes.

I muse on my survival for nigh on eighty years,
A victory in heart, despite a wealth of tears.

My mind goes whistling past the graveyard of my youth,
Where childhood lasts forever, so distant from the truth.

The sunlight turns to twilight, and shadows dark are cast.
Then phantoms reminisce, articulate the past.

I fail discerning youthful faces on the stage;
Decades disguise them with the tragedy of age.

Those denizens of darkness look not the same to me,
but spirits old and crippled, my mind refuses to see.

I stare upon the visions of friends long passed away,
Their images of long ago, these times now betray.

The years had left them blighted, and shocking to perceive,
No longer cute or raffish, the years gave no reprieve.

Then slowly meld their features to match a youthful day,
where times were almost happy, they slowly walk away.

My consciousness is swirling, no balance left to find.
These wisps of faces dwell in the graveyard of my mind.



Phil S. Rogers is a sixth generation Vermonter, age 72, now retired, and living in Texas. He served in the United States Air Force and had a career in real estate and banking.  He previously published Everlasting Glory, a historical work that tells the story of each of the men from Vermont that was awarded the Congressional Medal Of Honor during the Civil War. 


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6 Responses

  1. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    I like the sentiment and imagery in this poem. The first couplet and the closing line are vivid and affecting.

  2. Joseph S. Salemi

    The only real metrical problem is in couplet five, which is devilishly difficult to scan. I’d suggest the following revision:

    I fail to see the youthful faces on the stage;
    Decades have disguised them with the tragedy of age.

    • Joseph S. Salemi

      Sorry — that should be:

      “I fail to see the youthful faces smiling on the stage…”

  3. Mike Bryant

    Impacting and full of the wisdom that life provides to those that are ready to be taught.

  4. C.B. Anderson

    Everybody grows old in their own good time, but it’s never too late to learn how to write a scansion-worthy line. I am only a year younger than you are, and I’ve been doing it for nearly two decades. Everything depends on how much one wants to conform to normative standards. Way back in the day when I was attempting to write short stories, someone wrote that everybody has ideas, but only those who master the appropriate techniques stand a chance of being published and communicating with readers. Although I can relate to the ideas you present, I think you could have done a better job of presenting them. You are some distance from exemplifying true iambic meter, but you are close enough that I would encourage you to press on. You know, it’s curious how, in the eleventh hour of our lives, we are drawn toward poetic expression. Purely rational expression just doesn’t quite cut the mustard, and I hope to hear from you in the years that still remain for the both of us. I, too, have experienced losses of long-cherished friends and expect more of the same in the coming times. Life is bittersweet, and that’s a fact that even the youngest among us must acknowledge. Comedy and tragedy inhabit the same stage.


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