Old Folks At Home

They’re circled up,
A ghostly desert wagon train,
Broken and bleached,
Not by use and sun,
But by lack of both.

They’re parked in
The inner circle
Of an exploding junkyard.
The oldest wrecks and worn out heaps
Inexorably rusting away,
Dissolving back to raw materials.

They’re waiting.
Embraced by wheelchairs,
Laid out on gurneys.
Waiting for something.
Waiting for nothing.

They’re chafing in their swaddling,
Their noses assaulted by the tang
Of the house blend of aged urine.
The cachet continually calls to mind
The dark at the end of the tunnel
For those still conscious of
Where they are,
Who they are.

They have a coffee at 9:30,
Those who can hold
The brown plastic cups,
And an ice cream social
On Sunday afternoon.
Mouths that can no longer speak
Somehow recall how
To drink and eat,
But no one is sociable.

One painfully beautiful woman,
Her Breck Girl hair
Impossibly neat and wavy,
Continually creeps the corridors,
An hour hand escaped from the
Circle of the face of death.
Her expression invites attention;
She’s about to say something,
Always…if she could only remember
What it was she was going to say.

At ten o’clock
It’s lights out,
But a muted glow
Seeps in to a few rooms
From the corridor that leads
Back to the past.

Tags: death, life, old, poetry

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Replies to This Discussion

I think this is the best of all you've posted so far. Nicely done. I especially like the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th stanzas. Nice imagery. Very sad. I know that's how I'm going to end up.
Thanks, Dallas. This is an observational poem. I went to Florida two weeks ago to "spring" my 85 year-old father from a nursing home, where he was "just visiting" because of a mini-stroke. Most of the residents were there at the end of their lives, and it was not a cheery place. As to ending up in the same situation, we do have some control. First, we can adopt a lifestyle that increases our chance of avoiding physical or mental disability. Then, we can control our own death to insure it comes with dignity. I have long planned to arrange do just that if I need to. By the way, I consider Dr. Kevorkian to be a pioneering hero, if a somewhat ineffective one.
Well, health wise I'm doing okay - no high colesterol, blood pressure, etc., but I'm cursed with a genetic poor memory. My paternal grandfather had Alzheimer's, and I'm certain that fate awaits me. My brain is so fried some days!

Yeah, I made my will when I was 20, and made time limits for life support, etc. I think I'd rather take my own life than die shamelessly. But who knows. I think most of us will cling to life no matter what.
There is pretty convincing evidence that physical and especially mental exercise can preserve and even grow brain cells and perhaps mitigate the effects of Alzheimer's. Supposedly some significant advances are also being made in understanding and treating Alzheimer's (in the next ten years sort of thing). My father has vascuilar dementia, so that's what I need to be concerned about--though both of us have low blood pressure and cholesterol. There are lots of books with real things one can do for active aging. What's surprising is that in our overweight, underexercized, t.v. addicted, junk food society people live as long as they do!

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