I have numerous times been requested to tell how I began writing poetry. There are different answers depending on what my memory chooses at the moment. Right now, I would say I began writing poetry as a direct result of trying to date women during my college days. If a woman agreed to a date, I would have her write down her address for me to pick her up at a designated time. Upon arriving at the address, it usually turned out to be a vacant lot. While sitting on the curb waiting for my date to appear, I filled the time by trying to write poems upon whatever stationary handy. Eventually I carried a notebook with me whenever going on a date. Thanks to the large number of no-shows, I developed to the point of being able to consider myself a poet. To this day I always carry a writing pad with me, just in case.
I was waxing down my surfboard
While staring blankly at the sea
When the ghost of Life appeared
On a beach towel next to me.
"I have treasures for you:
You will become extremely wealthy
And have all you most want." he proclaimed.
"Kowabonga!" I exclaimed.
"You will meet a beautiful lady
Devoted to you for all her life.
You will love her too and take her for a wife."
"She will fulfill your every desire,
For yours are hers as well,
And with age your love like tides will swell."
He disappeared and I paddled gladly out to sea.
I caught a heavy wave that soon overpowered me.
I wiped out and the ocean threw me down;
It crashed me hard against its floor
And held me sure that I would drown.
I perceived a light to which I serenely swam.
The light of death embraced me, still I oh so calm,
But the voice of the ghost then spoke once more:
"You must return for you yet have much to learn
Before you are allowed into the light."
My head surged above the surf and I gasped for air.
I clawed the sand till I could stand and stagger to the shore.
I never could afford a mansion
And lived frugally all my life.
I married a gorgeous woman
Though few would say that of my wife.
I am content with all that came to be.
I learned much indeed, you see,
Since when the ghost had spoke to me.
I internalized the old saws,
Actualized them religiously.
I lived the wisdoms in complete accord:
"The best things in life are free;"
"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder;"
"Virtue is its own reward;"
So many, I won't quote them all.
He lives best "who loveth best
All things both great and small"…
The Fighting Geezers
There is something profoundly wrong
When boys go to war while withered men stay home
Planting flags on the graves of grandchildren.
The young have the best of life still ahead of them:
Love, marriage, family, achievements,
While we old, for whom the best is behind,
Have the worst lurking in a shrinking future:
Infirmity, cancers, dementia, the loss of compeers…
Therefore, I propose our armies enlist only the old,
Enact a minimum draft age of sixty, same for volunteers.
Let our children have their lives, we needn't be told
To be heroic: It's better to die valiantly
Than by a painful, tormenting terminal disease.
I will sign up for the first division, "The Fighting Geezers";
Assign me to the double chin brigade, I'm ready to serve.
We will proudly advance alongside the armored walker battalions
And the cardiac implant regiments, we'll show our nerve.
With nitroglycerin and statins for our steady companions,
Marching with standard issue oxygen tanks and hearing aids,
We'll be a tough bunch of white-whiskered cranks.
Send in The Alzheimer's Commandos for secret sabotage raids,
If captured they will reveal nothing, not even names or ranks.
We'll have cantankerous old matrons provide the flak.
Rather than a cardio we'll choose a patriotic attack.
Hear us as we shoulder our daily capsules pack:
"We'll take our objective, rely on us Sarge:
We'll surmount all obstacles, no matter how large
But we will need our naps before we charge."
We'll stand our ground in the face of defeat
Because arthritis will prevent a hasty retreat.
Let us replace the kids and we'll show them what for.
When the idea catches on and all forces muster an aged elite,
Warfare will change and cease the horrors known before.
For the old know full well those miseries which occur naturally
Without adding abnormal woes which come from a military.
We old warriors will exchange weapons for something less a bother
Than traditional tools of warfare meant for maiming each other.
Out in no-mans-land soldiers will settle things like old folks do:
The officers will sit down to play fearless games of chess,
The rest will wage gallant shuffleboard matches
And engage in epic battles of checkers. Though flags still wave
The losers will simply walk away rather than remain to fill a grave.
There still will be shouting and shoving, 'cause that's how we're made,
But we'll soon enough stop for sandwiches and cold lemonade.
Pain and tears war has been going on since who knows when
And there must be a way to make it cease:
Let the young have fun and leave conflict to old men
Because we hate commotion and just want some peace.
©2014 Benjamin Pehr