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, always ready, today’s

a new start, all’s possible, not yet fifty, still feeling

twenty-six, same lads they were home from the 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, each day 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 home,

no time left to sit calmly on a balcony at sunset

or remember days in Nantucket with tall blonds

smelling of lotion and summer and photosynthesis,

their smooth shoulders and skinny hips pressing flesh

against their flesh in sailing yachts on pristine oceans,

no memories of lawns in August sour with the decay

of mowed grass, sweet with the waft of honeysuckle,

children with unbelievably bright eyes hunting Easter eggs,

Christmas mornings in front of fires, no smells of turkeys

roasting in ovens, prime cuts of beef simmering in Cabernet,

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 many years before




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,

mourning the loss of afternoons as boys they dove

and bobbed among the furious white caps of the sea