Sixty by Stephen Dunn

Because I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Sixty
Stephen Dunn

Because in my family the heart goes first
and hardly anybody makes it out of his fifties,
I think I’ll stay up late with a few bandits
of my choice and resist good advice.
I’ll invent a secret scroll lost by Egyptians
and reveal its contents: the directions
to your house, recipes for forgiveness.
History says that my ventricles are stone alleys,
my heart itself a city with a terrorist
holed up in the mayor’s office.
I’m in the mood to punctuate
only with that maker of promises, the colon:
next, next, next, it says, God bless it.
As Garcia Lorca may have written: some people
forget to live as if a great arsenic lobster
could fall on their heads at any moment.
My sixtieth birthday is tomorrow.
Come, play poker with me,
I want to be taken to the cleaners.
I’ve had it with all stingy-hearted sons of bitches.
A heart is to be spent. As for me, I’ll share
my mulcher with anyone who needs to mulch.
It’s time to give up search for the invisible.
On the best of days there’s little more
than the faintest intimations. The millenium,
my dear, is sure to disappoint us.
I think I’ll keep on describing things
to ensure that they really happened.

From Different Hours by Stephen Dunn, published by W. W. Norton & Company, 2000.

3 Comments

  1. This poem reminds me of my dad. I remember when my dad turned 50. He said the saddest thing. That he thought he would never make it. That his dad had died of a heart attack at 49. That both his grandfathers had died young. It must be hard to outlive your loved ones.

    Also love: “a heart is to be spent”.

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