On Turning Fifty-One

Some they wear their hearts pinned to soft

sleeves for all to see and break. But not me.

I keep my heart in my pant’s front pocket

a’jingling in there among the copper coins.

I made this decision early, early in the spring

of my life as I lay wrapped in a patchwork quilt

my grandmother stitched with anxious hands.

From the turntable Judy Collins sang Suzanne

and I feared I might die such was the bloom

of words and music and being fifteen and alive.

That afternoon I vowed my affections only

to such half-crazies with their tea and oranges.

So I pocketed my heart and kept close to the river.

Here now in the early, early autumn of my life

my heart is almost indistinguishable from the

worthless change I carry along with my name.

Silver and gold have I none, never have. But such

as I have I give – my coppered heart a’jingling

token of my travels along the banks of love, of

words and music and being fifty-one and alive.

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  1. Henry Mitchell on March 22, 2018 at 9:26 am

    Having been fifty-one myself, a couple of decades and some ago, I’d say from experience that you’re on a good track, John. Just keep enlarging that pocket so there is always room in it for a chanced-upon talisman and your ever-growing heart.

  2. Anna on March 22, 2018 at 10:03 am

    Beautiful! Your words brought sharp little tears to my eyes for how beautifully written this is. Please put more of this into the world.

  3. Jacky on March 22, 2018 at 10:30 am

    Beautiful, the movement and the contrast and the images and the memories ! So good to find you here this morning John. Thank you.

  4. Diana Trautwein on March 22, 2018 at 10:32 am

    Happy Birthday, John. And thanks for the gift of this loveliness.

  5. Rhonda Wray on March 22, 2018 at 10:35 am

    “my coppered heart”–yes and more yes, from one who is “double nickels” herself. Keep catching those poems when they drop out of the sky and land on your keyboard.

  6. Laura DeFilippo on March 22, 2018 at 12:22 pm

    Happy, Happy Birthday! Your words are always a gift to my senses…

  7. Abby on March 22, 2018 at 2:13 pm

    So so glad you’re back! Have been missing you…and happy early, early autumn. It’s a good time for you, I hope.

  8. Annie B on March 22, 2018 at 4:01 pm

    Happy birthday, John. I have been so missing your words. So glad to read them.

  9. Joy Lenton on March 23, 2018 at 5:50 pm

    Happy birthday, John! We love to see you sharing your beautiful poetic heart here. It’s a joy to read them. Blessings on your day and year ahead. ?

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