(with apologies to George Bernard Shaw and Robert Herrick)
You tell us youth is wasted on the young,
that we must gather rosebuds while we may
lest fragile opportunities be flung
like flotsam on the canvas of decay.
With body toned, thick hair and creamy skin
commanding adulation from the masses
the pattern of predominance will spin
its own cocoon around the rugged passes.
But I submit the opposite is true.
It’s adolescent angst that stands in need
of energy to busily pursue
agendas misdirected to succeed.
For only at an age when pride is purged
can artificial values be submerged.
2021 Mary Boren
When I’m stuck in a pit of malaise
and self-pity flares up in a blaze,
I am forced to concede
that for lightness and speed
this old body has seen better days.
But my spirit’s not bound by the hide
that is holding my fragments inside.
When the flesh is enmeshed
in itself, I’m refreshed
by escaping the prison of pride.
2018 Mary Boren
View discussion on this poem.
I had my fifteen minutes when
my skin was smooth and creamy
and once or twice as I walked in
heads turned around to see me.
The dimples flashing on my cheek
are thigh-bound now. My tresses
are grey and thin, my waist is thick,
my features unimpressive.
Invisible though I may be
to those who prize the surface,
my worth resides inside of me
beyond the realm where earth is.
Mary Boren, 2012
Public Domain Photo
When the daily news reporter
talks about the changing weather,
that’s our cue to sigh together,
“Years are growing ever shorter.”
Store the fans, unpack the heaters;
nippy mornings grace October.
Then, before the month is over,
stock the shelves for trick-or-treaters.
Holidays in quick succession
fill the calendar thereafter.
Giving thanks with food and laughter
leaves November’s firm impression.
Autumn’s vivid colors given
like a sign of nature’s sequence
fade to grey. The shopper frequents
Christmas sales, consumer-driven.
Gone too soon, yet growing stronger,
lies the hope of sense and reason.
Fall, my energetic season,
linger here a little longer.
Mary Boren, 2010
Old wisdom says our faces are a gift
until we’re thirty, then we each become
the author of our own. To shift and lift
by artificial means appeals to some,
but as for me, I’ll go au naturel.
The story that’s unfolding on my mug
is published line by line in runes that spell
long-overdue contentment, with a shrug
of bittersweet remorse for punctuation.
Each burst of joy and melancholy sigh
converge in symmetry on my creation
for all to see. It’s written on the fly.
Mary Boren, 2003
If you can smile when met with “How ya doing?”
and skip the vain recital of your ills;
can feed your body healthy stuff, eschewing
the couch when steps can take the place of pills:
If you can reminisce without digressing,
can listen to a fussy baby squall
and, flinching, still consider it a blessing
to hear and see and taste and feel at all:
If you can watch a younger person flounder
and not usurp responsibility;
if, judging no one, pimp or pulpit-pounder,
you trust the love of God to oversee:
Then disregard the ravages of time
and take a bow, old sage, you’re in your prime.
Mary Boren, 2006
The looking glass reveals a creaseless brow
transposed against her face to disabuse
the notion she is aging. Truth subdues
the vision. Like her hair, her youth somehow
is running down the bathtub drain, and now
her bearing and behavior (like her shoes)
are sensible. “The mirror is a ruse,”
she sighs. “I’m just an old contented cow.”
She’d planned on parachuting once, immune
to gravity. (Weak ankles redefined
the plan.) At times she cocks her head, intent
on hearing fragments of an uncaught tune
that blink and fade like fireflies in her mind.
She can’t remember how the lyrics went.
Mary Boren, 2001