SINS OF MY OLD AGE
“ the most obvious thing about moving into my 70s
was [that] I had ceased to be a sexual being.”
– Diana Athill
In terms of the meat rack,
where you want to be wanted,
and sex is more about
someone else’s pleasure than your own, I’m in the same boat.
It was sometimes fun, but ultimately,
a loss of self — that game isn’t about us. But beyond that,
the sexes are quite different.
It’s quite all right for you, dear friend —
but if women, having reached a certain age,
can easily put away their sexuality,
once and for all,
it’s not like that for us,
who have that external and pesky reminder,
no matter how old and droopy, to the end,
and no matter that the world thinks
it’s disgusting for us
with our leaky old bodies, hobbling about,
to even think of sex,
and certainly inconceivable
for dear old gran and granddad.
I know how foolish we look –
our peculiar, dangling genitals…
the husband with a family of six to support,
worrying he can’t get it up…and the man
who said a day without sex was wasted —
‘Get a job, you bum’ said an old lady in the room —
whereas I sort of agreed with him.
We can’t give up on it, in one sense,
because it doesn’t give up on us —
and dignity be damned.
It’s not just that it feels healthy,
it’s an experience that connects you
to your basic self,
and you don’t need anybody else
to get there.
So it doesn’t matter any more that nobody
wants to do it with you.
Basically, a man’s greatest love affair
is with his dick anyway,
and perhaps that’s why women
never forgive us for it.
In sex, a man is pretty much alone,
so you and your imagination
will do just as well, especially when
nobody cares but you,
just another old fart who can hardly
get it up any more,
and by this time, you yourself know
more about your outdated technology
to launch the rocket to the stars, so to speak,
than anyone else possibly could.
Maybe women, their beings linked to the moon,
in their last years, have no need, as we do,
for this reassurance, rehearsing
not just the oblivion that we’re heading to,
but the victory of return.
It’s a marvelous mystery of a universe
this foolish old guy leaps off into
as often as he can, and, so far,
keeps coming back.
At 87, it’s hard to believe,
but I simply have no complaints.
I’m a pretty healthy old fellow.
Of course, I’m a New Yorker,
and we reel off our symptoms
to anyone who will listen.
So I listen, and cluck in sympathy,
unable to add to the stewpot of misery
with my nothing aches and pains.
What’s to complain about?
I have a great apartment,
with a tree embracing it.
I live with someone I worship.
Looking at him — after fifty years –
still makes me smile.
I go on writing my poems,
and even get attention from my fans.
And money? I have none — well, okay,
the monthly government handout
that pays the bills.
I have enough of my mind left
to know how lucky I am.
I could even solve the world’s problems,
if only they’d ask me.
Or if they’d read my poems.
And with all that to celebrate,
my dick and I are still talking,
or rather, jousting.
Even at the alarming age of 87,
and even if it all goes downhill from here,
as it must, eventually or tomorrow
— meanwhile – facing the inevitable,
I’m the man with everything.