Those who’ve passed through youth but never lived it

left jab the morning sun, jog hills, always in training,

slick with sweat, taut as cat gut,

insisting they’re always ready,

today’s a new start, all’s possible,

still feel twenty-six, even in mid fifties,

same lads they were coming home from war,

muscles earned in scout camp and boot camp,

years left for novels and senatorial speeches,

long after medals have been awarded and lost


And striving, always striving to begin again,

they stand at a mythical home plate and point

to a place far beyond their sense of knowing,

speed towards a point where glory slides,

no time left to sit on a balcony at sunset

to remember days in Nantucket with tall blonds

smelling of sea and summer and photosynthesis,

their smooth shoulders and skinny hips pressing

flesh against flesh along crashing oceans,

no memories of  lawns in August sour with the decay

of mowed grass, sweet with the smell of hidden honey,

of children with unbelievably bright eyes

on Easter egg hunts, no Christmas morns in front of fires,

no smells of turkeys in ovens, of pot roasts in onions and wine,

no smoke rising from burning leaves,

no more nights of sleeping together without deceit


Faces younger than their age, they challenge you

to punch them, smack them anywhere, in kidneys,

in the solar plexus, square on the chin, go ahead,

surprise them, double your fist, let go,

they can take it


Those without names in record books

stretch against trees in parks of fog,

still in training for what has come and gone,

for what peaked one autumn years ago

And when they hear the clanging of the armor

of the men of Thebes,

they retreat within walls of empty rooms where

children no longer laugh nor women sing