Jesse Ellsbury

(March 23,1982 / Washington D.C.)

In My Later Years


In my later years I discovered fears
not meant for normal life:
broken hearts, unspoken parts
of a career, my wife
having left me
over a bottle,
I always seem to go full throttle
from one mistake to the next,
broken walls I failed to set
right again, it’s no wonder
the clouds no longer
part when thunder
slams the moon to the sky:
all I have left
is what I left behind.

In my later years I learned to shed tears
less often than I should,
let feelings build, remain unfulfilled,
and strive to be made of wood
like every other automaton,
waving a flag while the gilded baton
lies unmoving on the nightstand,
people smile while clenching their hands
and this –
one more day of something like bliss
but more like contentment,
I try to overcome resentment
while under duress,
there once was a caress;
now the only thing left is the wind.

In my later years I began to hear
whispers on the walls
of what they’ve seen, the truth I’ve gleaned,
and all that came before, I call
in silence,
words and violence
left me lost,
what’s been the cost
of a life spent draped in smoke?
We try to cope
by escaping into dreams,
each big enough only for me.

In my later years I returned to a clear
understanding of the Word.
To identify, fulfilled and denied,
what I felt from what I heard
because at this point
not even my voice
could be undeterred,
I know what I deserved:
everything I got.

In my later years I felt the gears
of temptation push and pull
but after a time, not even wine
can get me beneath the wool
for I’ve lived so long
with my eyes on wrong,
I don’t know what to do anymore
with my life or at the store
where I buy petty means,
receptacles of hopes and scenes,
I go home,
paying what I have on loans
I know will outlive me.

In my later years I learned the sincere
expression of gratitude;
no one shows you how much they don’t know you
as much as those who are rude,
and I reach long
into my heart, being strong,
and try to help as I can,
but all I’ve tried collapses like lies
and I end up with my head in my hands.

In my later years I found myself near
the expiration date given at birth
that I lured closer as I tried over
and over with everything worse
for myself than living,
I have tried giving
and taking
and the only thing that made me
whole was surviving
because without that what would I be prizing?
These days
when I live by the way
of a rat left after the storm,
I know that ever since I was born
I’ve been looking for a way out.

Submitted: Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Edited: Friday, July 26, 2013

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Poet's Notes about The Poem

A long poem from the perspective of a man at the end of a long life. Just try the first stanza, I dare you.

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