The Color of Rust

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CalebPerry
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Tue Jan 11, 2022 8:00 am

Hi, guys. I haven't been here for a while. I am taking the liberty of immediately posting a poem, and then I will be sure that I critique at least three or four poems before I disappear again. (I'm always careful to critique more poems than I post.)

This is a very old effort for me, a poem that I wrote probably in my thirties. I don't know why I was thinking about being old in my thirties, but I have always anticipated the end of my life. I concluded that the poem wasn't very good; but now, at the age of 71, it resonates with me. I have had multiple experiences over the years of seeing some young, gorgeous person in public, feeling attracted, and then having a horrible sinking feeling that romantic love is no longer an option for me, and that's what I was trying to express in this poem. Let me know what you think. Is it a good poem, or just a long, depressing complaint?

The poem comes in two parts, but I may decide to simply chop off the second part.

========================================

The Color of Rust
To a Young Stranger

I.
Feeling the curse of a gentle mind
in a quiet moment of a strange day,
waiting in blue and gray, a few feet apart,
I gaze with eyes too fragile for the task
and see in your full face of youth the beauty
that is God’s greatest and cruelest art.

Looking downward at my hollowed hands,
and reflecting on my small purse of years
now gambled and lost — and remembering how
my own beauty slipped silently away —
I marvel that nothing more harsh than minutes
undid all that procreation wrought.

I marvel at the whimsy of God’s thought
that made pallid flesh the ardent symbol
of the soul, that gave the shape of lips
power to pierce the armor of the heart,
and power to shield from view the beauty
under others’ lips less fair and bold.

Not easy was the trip from black to gray,
though the loss of youth seemed not much matter
at the start — no, not much matter, not until
smooth skin turned to foreign bark, and love’s
heady accolades stopped sounding at the door.
Oh, I made my peace with age, while inside

a child still struggled to be a man.
Love’s consolation was wisdom’s gain;
all things known became vaster than before,
and the color of rust was richer
than the black of steel. How, then, has your
young mask made this wise man a fool once more?

For, gazing on you, I am a fool;
and the long years of learning seem empty
as the breath; and the heart that was full
now feels dry as an old shrunken sponge,
dry of the dignity that was hard won,
and aching now only for a gentle death.

II.
This morning a chill wind blew in off the bay;
dew lifted off the green leaves of grass
growing from the city’s sidewalk cracks,
and autumn flowers bloomed in brave disarray.
A cruel sun beat down on an old man
and a lovely face, and water and oil
retained their essential natures in the glass.
Last edited by CalebPerry on Wed Jan 12, 2022 4:26 am, edited 2 times in total.
If you don't like the black theme, it is easy to switch to a lighter color. Just ask me how.

If I don't critique your poem, it is probably because I don't understand it.
Macavity
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Tue Jan 11, 2022 9:36 am

I am going for a long walk now Caleb. Initial impressions are good, but will respond when I have more time to digest.

best

Phil
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Tue Jan 11, 2022 2:19 pm

There are some memorable elements in your poem Caleb

The Color of Rust
To a Young Stranger

I.
Feeling the curse of a gentle mind
in a quiet moment of a strange day,
waiting in blue and gray, a few feet apart,
I gaze with eyes too fragile for the task
and see in your full face of youth the beauty
that is God’s greatest and cruelest art................brilliant

Looking down at my own hollowed hands,
and reflecting on my small purse of years.................like that too
now gambled and lost — and remembering how
my own beauty slipped silently away —
I marvel that nothing more harsh than minutes
undid all that procreation wrought.

I marvel at the whimsy of God’s thought...................conveys an irresponsible Creator, too playful, ignoring the consequences
that made pallid flesh the ardent symbol
of the soul, that gave the shape of lips
power to pierce the armor of the heart,
and power to shield from view the beauty
under others’ lips less fair and bold.

Not easy was the trip from black to gray,
though the loss of youth seemed not much matter
at the start—no, not much matter, not until
smooth skin turned to foreign bark, and love’s
heady accolades stopped sounding at the door.
Oh, I made my peace with age, while inside

a child still struggled to be a man.
Love’s consolation was wisdom’s gain;
all things known became vaster than before,
and the color of rust was richer
than the black of steel. How, then, has your
young mask made this wise man a fool once more?

For, gazing on you, I am a fool;
and the long years of learning seem empty
as the breath; and the heart that was full
now feels dry as an old shrunken sponge,
dry of the dignity that was hard won,
and aching now only for a gentle death..............like the gentle mind and gentle death journey

II.
This morning a chill wind blew in off the bay;
dew lifted off the green leaves of grass
growing from the city’s sidewalk cracks,
and autumn flowers bloomed in brave disarray.
A cruel sun beat down on an old man
and a lovely face, and water and oil
retained their essential natures in the glass.


enjoyed

Phil
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CalebPerry
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Wed Jan 12, 2022 3:45 am

Thank you, Phil.

So I gather that the poem isn't a colossal failure to you. That's how it struck me for many years, but I think I felt that way because I was writing ahead of my years and was anticipating the feelings instead of feeling them.

Would you say that the poem "works" for you?

Thanks again!
If you don't like the black theme, it is easy to switch to a lighter color. Just ask me how.

If I don't critique your poem, it is probably because I don't understand it.
Macavity
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Wed Jan 12, 2022 8:59 am

It does work for me Caleb. It felt authentic and, though I have no intensity of feeling for physical beauty, I still could feel the sense of loss.

In terms of critique, I felt I knew what you meant by foreign, that sense of alien and alienation, but the word does carry the baggage of ethnic differences such as skin colour. I know, from your previous work, that skin colour is not an issue for you.

best

Phil
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CalebPerry
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Wed Jan 12, 2022 9:45 am

Thank you, Phil. That means a lot -- i.e., your saying that the poem works for you.

Yeah, I wasn't thinking of foreigners at all. I spent my youth with perfect alabaster skin, and I was imagining how I'd feel if it became wrinkled and blemished. As it turns out, I still looking younger than my age, but the young guys don't want me because I'm fat and balding. I guess I should look for another word.

This poem is about as far as it gets from being minimalist. This forum has poets with very divergent styles.
If you don't like the black theme, it is easy to switch to a lighter color. Just ask me how.

If I don't critique your poem, it is probably because I don't understand it.
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