.

Default, to a Fault

There are as many deeds I ought to do
As there are jobs in urgent need of doing.
My task is knowing whether to pursue
Them, or, too overwhelmed, to stop pursuing.

As numerous as shores that hem the sea
Are duties I am constantly annoyed
By;  best of all the chores confronting me
Are those I may responsibly avoid.

.

.

Old Age

My vital signs grow weaker by the hour;
I feel it in my xylem and my phloem.
Each day I lose a little bit of power
And sometimes find it hard to write a poem.

This is the destiny of flesh, they say,
But would that it had come to me much later
And let me have one more productive day
Before I enter that incinerator.

True wisdom comes too late, it has been told,
And I recall a man who said to me
As he was climbing stairs, “Kip, don’t get old.”
No better good advice could ever be.

But as I hobble down life’s final road,
Decrepit and in need of some assistance,
I ask my son to help me bear the load,
Relying on his youth-derived puissance.

Though I was young and energetic once,
Those promise-laden days have long since fled.
I haven’t been myself in many months,
And hope I’ll be remembered when I’m dead.

.

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C.B. Anderson was the longtime gardener for the PBS television series, The Victory Garden.  Hundreds of his poems have appeared in scores of print and electronic journals out of North America, Great Britain, Ireland, Austria, Australia and India.  His collection, Mortal Soup and the Blue Yonder was published in 2013 by White Violet Press


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24 Responses

  1. Joe Tessitore

    These are great – and I only had to look up one word!

    Reply
    • C.B. Anderson

      Sometimes, Joe, consulting the dictionary seems like an arduous task, but it’s always worth it.

      Reply
  2. Cynthia Erlandson

    I laughed out loud at phloem/poem! And I’ll admit, I had to look up puissance.

    Reply
    • C.B. Anderson

      So did Joe, Cynthia, but at least he didn’t laugh at my rhymes. The power of vascular plants is no laughing matter; you probably eat them every day, and where would we be without them?

      Reply
  3. Julian D. Woodruff

    Nothing wrong with these, C.B.–vintage lines and rhymes.
    Still, I know the feeling:
    I find my writing similarly hexed:
    Each day’s results seem better than the next’s.
    On the other hand:
    Your charmed thoughts still the muse’s favor curry.
    It’s when you turn from her that you should worry.

    Reply
    • C.B. Anderson

      Next thing, Sweet Woodruff, you’ll be telling me you get younger every day.

      Reply
  4. Daniel Kemper

    I thought Default – to a fault was damned clever and superbly executed. The last line perfectly redirects the reader back to the title, which it has just infused with not-expected-but-sort-of-should-have-been-expected meaning. I especially enjoyed the “annoyed/By” enjambment, which was a little annoying, which made it pleasing. The last line of the first stanza was also a particularly satisfying conclusion. It fell in place with tension and relief, performed a reversal of sorts of the lead up, and had pleasing and intuitive wordplay to boot. I really dig this little gem!

    Reply
    • Gail

      I second what Mr. Kemper said, and have learned new words from you both!

      Reply
      • C.B. Anderson

        Every new word, Gail, is a new world.

    • C.B. Anderson

      I’d rather have you tell me that than have anyone tell me that I’ve become lazy.

      Reply
  5. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    C.B., both poems are structurally perfect, as you already know. Your eye and ear is spot on. I like the playfulness of ‘Default, to a Fault’, but I simply adore ‘Old Age’. All literary speak aside, I know this poem takes a humorous path… but, more than that, it speaks to our hearts and our fears. Death lurks on the fringes and the older we get the clearer we see the Grim Reaper’s scythe. Your last line brought a tear to my eye… and… to answer your question – a resounding YES! How could I ever forget you?! Just don’t ask me how or why… I say that with cheeky British sarcasm. 😉

    Reply
    • C.B. Anderson

      Well then, Susan, right back at you with American pragmatism: Dying, if nothing else, will put an end to growing old, but it’s not natural to want to stop growing old.

      Reply
    • Patricia Redfern

      Dear Susan, I prefer to be alive than be remembered. I watch those younger than I, and they do not remember the very best that are gone. I realize this is our end. Yet my legs sing of marathon running. And seeing one of my over 2,200 poems published here. I admire your poetic skills greatly and share your poetry with ftiends. This a blessed poetry site, I am so glad you are on it. Thank you,

      Reply
  6. Paul Freeman

    These poems are very poignant and very honest – the way good writing should be.

    Reply
    • C.B. Anderson

      I tried to write a dishonest poem once, Paul, but it bounced.

      Reply
  7. David Watt

    C.B., I sincerely hope that your ‘vital signs grow weaker by the hour’ is a poetic exaggeration. I would like to see plenty more of your well crafted poems.
    I also had to look up puissance. But learning a new word is a not infrequent side benefit from reading your poetry.

    Reply
    • C.B. Anderson

      Resignation, David, is not the same thing as despair, and the vital signs to which I refer are the existential, not the clinical, ones

      Reply
  8. Cheryl Corey

    I just came across this excerpt from George Herbert’s “The Flower” and felt compelled to share it: “And now in age I bud again, After so many deaths I live and write; I once more smell the dew and rain, And relish versing…”
    Perhaps we’re all like perennial flowers … we lay fallow for a time, and then we bloom again.

    Reply
  9. James A. Tweedie

    Bloom on, C.B., the “Poets’ Corner” isn’t ready for you yet.

    Reply
    • C.B. Anderson

      I’m ahead of you by a good two years, James, and neither one of us will ever be a day younger than we are now. I’ll try to write a good poem before I leave.

      Reply
  10. paul buchheit

    Very thoughtful work, C.B. I like the idea of responsibly avoided chores. 😉

    Reply
  11. David Whippman

    Now I’m over 70, I can’t kid myself that these poems don’t apply to me!

    Reply
    • C.B. Anderson

      I thought seventy was the new fifty, David. But, hell, I hated reaching fifty too. How cranky will I be if I reach eighty?

      Reply

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