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Long Beach, CA

The Old Gods Who Make It Through

The kind old man who scanned my carbon copied rental agreement and let me loose on the freeway
He might be Hercules, humbled and forgotten, cast down a long chain of shame
And landed here, a broken god, shunned and stumbled from Olympus 

He who now sits with the cap of a local baseball team sitting unbroken on his tired head, 
He who has no sense of style save that which is not-having-time-to-care-what-people- think (and we all shun that freedom until there’s no strength left for slavery)
He is a fading god, fierce and sad 

But I bet in robust youth he played football and walked the halls with a glint in his eyes that made knees quiver
The way he chewed his gum as he took my papers and the twang in his old voice told me
That his power once flowed like spring itself
That he was young and all was pear-ripe before him
And he a vice that never stopped its squeezing 

I’d bet that when he goes home, he does his best to be kind
Feeds some fearful cat that will only sit in his lap, and no one else’s,  
And unwinds alone, drinking and cursing and watching baseball 
Just above the sorrow that is so clearly pushed down inside him
Which he did not know in the days when he loped around town
With no notion of strength’s long day becoming night 
No notion that life would pile on and keep piling on until he cries uncle
(Since we all cry uncle)

He could still pin me at arm wrestling
Flipping the bird to my young years and laughing
The strength bringing back the best memories
Of love and sex and lust and youth 

So our handing off of papers became, for me, a sort of prayer:
May we all be graced in our youth with a long ignorance
And then carry our strength into the fade with a tip of a baseball hat sitting sideways on our white hair, and a nod of the head, and a wry smile that says, “I’m ready”

May we become kind as we prepare to hit the highway 
With some glint in our eye that still remembers, without undue regret, 
The value of time well-spent, and proper sorrow for what we wasted
Before we’re released to the road ahead

Then we will all be very blessed, even as we hold regret
And we will rise like gods through golden halls, having spurned the snare of pride,
Ready to waste no time
Ready to rise and rise and rise