night cap

there is no avenging angel or red burning devil
there is only me sitting here
at the age of 70
playing with the word.
I have been playing with the word for so
many decades now.
sometimes people see me on the street
and get excited.
“calm down,” I tell them, “it’s nothing.”

the gods have been kind to me, being
neither in an institution or a
madhouse or a hospital.
considering all
my health is remarkably
good.
believe me, I had no idea I would
live this long, I had planned an
early exit and lived with a reckless
abandon.
don’t be angry, I don’t want to
hog the stage forever.
if somebody fairly good comes
along I will gladly step
aside.
I will write the stuff only for myself
and to myself.
which is what I have been
doing right along.

yes, yes, I’ve been lucky and
still am, and please be patient,
I will leave some day,
I will no longer defile these pages
with my raw and simple
lines.
I will become strangely quiet
and then you can
relax.
but for now, tonight, I am
working,
classical music is again on
the radio,
I square off with the
computer
and the words form and
glow on the screen.
son-of-a-bitch, you have
no idea, it has been a
wild and lovely
ride.

now I fill my glass
and drink to it all:
to my loyal readers
who have kept me off
skid row,
to my wife and my
cats and my editor
and to my car
which waits in the
driveway
to transport me to the
racetrack tomorrow
and to the last line
I will ever write.
it has been a miracle
beyond all
miracles.

“here’s mud in your
eye!” as we used to say
in the thirties.

thank you.