Two Poems

by Carl Nelson (August 2019)

Soir Bleu, Edward Hopper, 1914


Cognitive Decline


I’m choosing to revel in it. Perversely

taking pleasure as it all goes to shit. 

I’ve always loved decline, and at times the pratfalls. 

Like Paris, always playful, always spring,

my diminution blossoms as a ruin

suggesting more valorous times, more full-blooded existence

with marvels from whitened, unruly hair

and magic from bony, arthritic hands.


My blather has never been better,

and my absurdity supreme.

My deluded, nonsensical neurons howl. 

I see me perform before them all

with hooded brow and scowl. A tie, and

a crisp white shirt too, of course,

spotted with soup. With all the wisdom I’ve gained

and lost but still project, I’m bound to be fantastical.


Suffice to say, I may feel differently

gumming my peas and slurping my drool,

with the poop pooling in my shoes

and squishing as I walk. Nevertheless,

I remain upbeat about doing Lear.


Portrait of an Old Man, Egon Schiele, 1916


Knowledge Lines and Graveyard Flowers (Liver Spots)


Old people drift off

like the next phrase in a poem,

garbled and drunk with sleep.

Their lives can barely keep their eyes open.


I saw an old woman in a rest home once,

who fell asleep during lunch, mid-bite,

with her fork halfway to her mouth.

I’d thought she’d died, but…nope.


Our joints swell with rust.

We begin to leak and drip.

Probably the least modern thing we will become

is inconvenient. We understand.

We understand inconvenience.


The old begin to look

more and more like the dead.

And we, who haven’t much time to speak of,

aren’t in any hurry to get where we’re going

while you can’t get caught up.


Ironic, isn’t it? But

the end is out there. We all find it.

“Goodbye,” is possibly the truest word ever spoken.

No one I know has gone back on it.




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