by Donald Wheelock (November 2022)
At Nightfall, Mikhail Vrubel, 1900
No Matter the Event
No matter the event, the time or place,
to visit where time passed with someone else,
where days were spent with purpose and repose—
returning there—in body or in thought—
invites the ache of loss, the lure of time’s
seduction by impossible repeat.
As likely, it’s the beauty of these places:
the scent of balsam, sunlight filtered through
the feathered pines, or vistas seen alone—
in short, the past we can’t help mystify
by where we captured what we still would have,
pretending that the past was ours to keep.
I hate the sound of 82
headed for a place in my later 80s,
the years so eager to accrue,
in sync with mind’s increasing frailties.
Show me a loftier food for thought,
how mind the art of rhyming may refine;
or barring that, just how I ought
to reach the end of this, my final line
The distant crosswalk’s half a mile away,
my goal the store across the street. I wait.
The moments pass. The traffic clears enough
to let me through, if at a modest gait.
I jog, I trip—to my hand the pavement’s rough;
an old man tries and fails at mere child’s play
Thinking Back to Perfect Skin
It’s tempting now to search the envied scene,
the beach of childhood with its radios,
its sunscreen-scented lay-about routine.
Instead of thinking back to tan and perfect skin,
the mind floats back to just eight months ago,
the removal of the lesion from my chin.
Composer Donald Wheelock began writing poems in his twenties, often for the purpose of setting them to music. Many poems soon declared their independence from that purpose, however. Returning to writing poems in retirement, he has worked his way up to “finalist” in the Able Muse Write Prize for Poetry competition, 2022, and has placed poems in Think, Alabama Poetry Review, and many other journals that welcome formal poetry. His first full-length book of poems has just been issued by Kelsay Books.
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