Young man, or: Old man

Brilliant failed old man
sons young man
tells him he's clever but the child...

Why bother if genius
didn't help his hero
failure and disappointment ultimate 
destroyers of 
families of respect 
of self-

His work in graduate school 
lands him

promising job that disappoints
with its soullessness
even at top of his game
he couldn't 
who was he kidding, 


You've got all the givens, they said
his old woman
over and over again, but the givens
hadn't done squat for old 
man and hadn't done anything for him
quite the opposite

Disappointment follows hope
follows disappointment
follows same dirt road to hell
that old man and his old 
down over and over


Every pebble sparkles, paved 
with good intentions and such love
love of fairytale aspirations
but they cut and tear
his feet and he's ready to reach...

The jagged rocks
lacerate their soles but they keep on
like broken Terminators from old man's
favorite Schwarzenegger movie
pushing forward
until their feet wear down to bones
break off, followed
by their shattered ankles, shins, knees
they crawl onward
unable to stop because of young...

To instill hope
in children who watch their
old men fail and fall, one after the next
after a certain point, he 
merely wants to keep his misery 
at bay, to die
not entirely destroyed by...

Lives reformatted and reedited like
Microsoft Word documents
on shared network drives
results of many monkeys' screeches
hundreds of monkeys at laptops
clacking away until
banana time arrives
and old man tells him to
brush his teeth before bedtime 

Screw the miserable givens, without
which he could have avoided
blasted expectations
that tore holes through his spirit
left spirits frustrated 
long after...

What a way
to go; but really why not

keep muck contained 
sloshing inside
until his old man's body decomposes

d’Verse poetics prompt: Fractals

This free verse poem was written in response to today’s d’Verse poetics prompt.

Let’s write poetry together!

When it comes to partnership, some humans can make their lives alone – it’s possible. But creatively, it’s more like painting: you can’t just use the same colours in every painting. It’s just not an option. You can’t take the same photograph every time and live with art forms with no differences.

Ben Harper (b. 1969)

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38 thoughts on “Young man, or: Old man”

  1. You just get lost in this poem, which I think is one of the best truly “fractal” one– you think it’s a whole pattern, a single story, but you have to keep going back to find the smaller patterns embedded within, and then the even smaller ones in each of those.

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