We started The Brass Rag a year ago this week. But somehow, I’m not thinking about that tonight. Instead I’m thinking about my fiftieth birthday, coming up on Sunday. What do you think about when annual events roll around? Which ones take precedence? Let us know. Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy this, and wish you happy writing.


What is there about this year that startles me?

As if it were unexpected or sneaky

Somehow incongruous,

But, thankfully, not a threat.

You can’t threaten what has already happened.

You just have to live with it and hope

It doesn’t go away.

Is it odd to feel that I am

Different but not


I have spent my time here in search

Of truth and love,

Of the vital essences of a life well lived,

I have feasted at the banquet of all life had to teach

And danced to music both rare and familiar,

My gifts have been easy and pain bought, blood purchased and free,

And sometimes I paid without knowing the cost,

Or the worth of the lesson until a heartbeat too late.

Until it was already mine and I could not give it,

Would not give it back at any price.

All the years feel equal.

Twenty-one sounds bigger than thirty-five,

But it isn’t.

Even the important days run in a rhythm tied to

A heartbeat. The sun rises and sets in the marrow of the bone

Without effort or attention from


My opinions may change, and my tune,

But my soul stares unblinking on the years

And wonders what all the fuss is about.

Am I not myself?

Don’t I still love chocolate and

Hate brussel sprouts?

Don’t I still love to dance,

even though I can’t?

And to sing, flinging notes onto

the early morning air for my own pleasure

and Gods, and no one else?

True, my voice is louder but it is still my own,

Bolder now that I care less,

My heart is fiercer, maybe, but it is my heart still,

With its beat measured by the same love’s drum.

Like a coal banked to spark as evening falls and

Stars give light to life.

Circling ‘round the same fire,

Winding to a lower, deeper flame, but

Not yet mellowed.




4 thoughts on “Birthday Rag

  1. Happy Birthday! I think that maybe 50 is the second birthday you notice -after your 21st. It’s a good time- you have a bit of heft,a track record of life experience behind you- and yet you’re not yet old. I’m quite a few years ahead of you, I’m afraid- and, though I don’t feel particularly old, I do feel as though I exist in a narrow, and narrowing present, with the past pushing me on one side and the future closing in on the other. I suppose I do count as an old man now. It’s quite interesting, though. I’ve never been an old man before.


  2. I know what you mean about not feeling old. It always comes as a bit of a shock to note the physical signs of aging in the mirror because I don’t feel them on the inside. I have to laugh at the old adage, ” you’re only as old as you feel.” I don’t feel any age at all. Perhaps this is evidence of the externality of the soul? At any rate, thanks for the good wishes and I hope you enjoy your next birthday as a celebration of the year passed rather than a mark of time’s passing.


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