"Diogenes" by Jean-Léon GérômeTwo Poems on Old Age, by C.B. Anderson The Society June 1, 2021 Beauty, Culture, Humor, Poetry 24 Comments . 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. . . 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 NOTE: The Society considers this page, where your poetry resides, to be your residence as well, where you may invite family, friends, and others to visit. Feel free to treat this page as your home and remove anyone here who disrespects you. Simply send an email to email@example.com. Put “Remove Comment” in the subject line and list which comments you would like removed. The Society does not endorse any views expressed in individual poems or comments and reserves the right to remove any comments to maintain the decorum of this website and the integrity of the Society. Please see our Comments Policy here. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) 24 Responses Joe Tessitore June 1, 2021 These are great – and I only had to look up one word! Reply C.B. Anderson June 1, 2021 Sometimes, Joe, consulting the dictionary seems like an arduous task, but it’s always worth it. Reply Cynthia Erlandson June 1, 2021 I laughed out loud at phloem/poem! And I’ll admit, I had to look up puissance. Reply C.B. Anderson June 1, 2021 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 Julian D. Woodruff June 1, 2021 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 June 1, 2021 Next thing, Sweet Woodruff, you’ll be telling me you get younger every day. Reply Daniel Kemper June 1, 2021 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 June 1, 2021 I second what Mr. Kemper said, and have learned new words from you both! Reply C.B. Anderson June 1, 2021 Every new word, Gail, is a new world. C.B. Anderson June 1, 2021 I’d rather have you tell me that than have anyone tell me that I’ve become lazy. Reply Susan Jarvis Bryant June 1, 2021 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 June 1, 2021 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 June 5, 2021 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 Paul Freeman June 1, 2021 These poems are very poignant and very honest – the way good writing should be. Reply C.B. Anderson June 1, 2021 I tried to write a dishonest poem once, Paul, but it bounced. Reply David Watt June 2, 2021 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 June 2, 2021 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 Cheryl Corey June 2, 2021 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 C.B. Anderson June 2, 2021 Your theory of life, Cheryl, has much appeal. Reply James A. Tweedie June 2, 2021 Bloom on, C.B., the “Poets’ Corner” isn’t ready for you yet. Reply C.B. Anderson June 2, 2021 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 paul buchheit June 3, 2021 Very thoughtful work, C.B. I like the idea of responsibly avoided chores. 😉 Reply David Whippman June 6, 2021 Now I’m over 70, I can’t kid myself that these poems don’t apply to me! Reply C.B. Anderson June 6, 2021 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 Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.