A week of poems: Tim Upperton’s ‘On the eve of my 53rd birthday’



On the eve of my 53rd birthday

After Gregory Corso


Once I was very small but then I grew up

and other things were small and nothing hurt

like it did when I was sixteen, and again

at twenty-one. Fifty-fucking-three!

The poems I wrote and the poems I shouldn’t

have written but they’re done now and in books

nobody, absolutely nobody,

ever reads. There was some craziness,

and sometimes I was alone and other times

I was not alone, and alone was better

but I was lonely. To be honest,

the craziness didn’t amount to much.

The confessional stopped working about

the time I had things to confess, and now —

now I’d have to spend the rest of my life

in there and still never get to the end

of it, fuck it, I may as well carry on.

My hair was long and straight but went springy

in my thirties then straight again but not

as straight as before. Now it’s mostly grey

but I don’t really care about it.

I let it grow and grow and then I cut

it all off. I imagine it growing

when I’m lifeless in my coffin, masses

of it, which is unpleasant to think of

and anyway not yet. I want more life

in front of me than I have behind me,

but that’s not about to happen. I want

a bell down there, in the wormy darkness,

like in the Edgar Allan Poe story,

or a buzzer, a buzzer I can press

and somebody to listen just in case.


©Tim Upperton






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