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Mitch said: “I’m trying hard to live
To seventy.”
I think about it constantly:
How half
A century is an abyss not all
Can cross-
“This field, once, was home to brains
And tigers-”
And paint the mystery, how time
(A wheel)
Describes the line (that’s history)
On earth
Where people (at the tangent point)
Bear the weight, or run behind.
Or break
Into those dances oceans sing
To dunes,
Or ice.

Leon Schapiro fled
The terror
First to Paris then New York.
A chronicler
Of the Jews, white hair, blue eyes,
Wood cane,
Beret. Right off he said: “We need
A lawyer.
To be old is terrible.”
Eighty, in Jamaica, kept
Two wives,
A shop and the beach towel concession.
Jimmy asked his son’s wife’s friend
To come
Away with him, to fish in warmer seas.
The landlord,
Heller, rhymed behind his desk:
“Money’s honey,
How does that help
When you’re old
And it’s cold
In your soul?
My son is so religious he
Won’t eat
At the same table with me.”

I didn’t hear at all, or hearing
The softly said need not
Be marked,
And turned back to the book,
The board,
The ball beneath the sycamore.
My father
Also thundered like the god
Who’s killed
Most, doesn’t wonder about might
Have been.
“Have you changed at all
In order
To live longer?” “No, as always
Right food and rest. Also avoid
The doctor.”
Also disbelieve in numbers.

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