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To the PM inquirer

Published:

Last Edited: August 5, 2005, 10:03 pm

I got a PM from a young man who'd been reading my blog and was astute enough to notice I've made a lot of mistakes in my life and didn't appear to have a corresponding level of grief and regret.  He asked me a number of personal questions regarding all that.  I answered most of his questions, but the PM reminded me of the following, which I wrote a few years ago.

 

Old Man and Young Man
On a Mountain-top

 

Old man and young man
Sit, gaze at far reaches
Of valley and desert
Spanning to horizon
 
“How’d I get to be this old?” 
Old man smiles, serene
“I wonder sometimes myself”
 
Young man: “I’m serious”
Old man sighs and leans
Against a rock.

“You’ve already 
Heard the parts about
Cheating, lying, and
Stealing all your life.
Those can shorten things
Considerable.
Could have mine.
 
Those are things you need to
Keep in moderation.”
 
Young man frowns.
“You’re joking.”
 
“No. Just being
Completely honest
For once.
But those are more
Likely just to ruin
Your life than
To end it.”

Tosses a flat rock
Into the void
Eyes follow
The long descent
“I never killed myself
When I wanted to.
Never threw myself
On my sword over
Defeats I can’t recall now.
Never flang myself
Off a cliff over scores of women
I no longer remember.”
 
Old man digs his pocket
Pats his other pockets
Looking for his pipe.
“I never gloated sufficiently
On my amazing successes
Over the efforts of others
(Those escape my mind
These days)
To make anyone want
To kill me enough to
Actually do it.”

Tamps the pipe
Frets with a match
 
“I was astute enough
To recognize early
When you bed
Another mans woman
She’ll eventually tell him.
She mightn’t say who,
But she’ll always say what
And if he’s smart
He’ll puzzle out who.
That’s a worthy thing
To keep in mind”
 
Pipe bowl sparked
Glowed, smoke
Curled around him

“I’ve always lived hard
Pushed the envelope
Hung it out over the edge.
I’d rather have died early
Than not done that

“But I always kept good tires
On whatever mechanical
Critter I was depending on
To get me back
Always kept the brakes
In good shape.  And
I was damned lucky.”

They sit silent
Watch the shadows
Crawl into arroyos
Far below

From Poems of the New Old West

Copyright 2002, Jack Purcell

Entry #155

Comments

1.
LOTTOMIKEComment by LOTTOMIKE - August 6, 2005, 12:44 am
really like the poem..........
2.
ToddComment by Todd - August 6, 2005, 10:50 am
I am awed. Thank you for sharing that.

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