Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Final Readers Choice Award Contest Poem: “When I Am Old” by Tim Amsden

Editor’s Note:  Nominees for the Songs of Eretz Readers Choice Award have been published/reprinted in Songs of Eretz Poetry Review every weekday from February 19 through today.  We hope you enjoyed reading these poems, every one of which was a finalist in the recent Songs of Eretz Poetry Award Contest.  Vote for your favorite in March by sending an email to Editor@SongsOfEretz.com.  The winner will be announced in April and receive a one hundred dollar honorarium.

When I Am Old

I shall live in a zeppelin. You will climb the ladder
and find me in twilight, surrounded by sepia tones
and treasures: a yellowed valentine, 
a mastodon tooth in a wooden box,
a gnarled walking stick.
We will look out the windows at the bewildering world below.
I will bring out my bag of bright moments,
show you bruises almost gone.

We will linger over sips
of old brandy. You will look at my hands,
liver spots on bones, and think of your own
hands, which though firmly
fleshed, are beginning to show their age.

When you leave 
pretending many visits,
I will sigh, return everything 
to its place, untie the 
tether, and float 
away.

--Tim Amsden

Poet’s Notes:  There is a museum in Medicine Lodge, Kansas that looks like a cavalry stockade from a John Wayne movie. I haven’t been there for decades but I remember wandering through rooms filled with treasures from people in the area, laid out with little organization.

A memorial wreath made of human hair might be displayed beside an iron stirrup dropped by Coronado’s troops, and perhaps a variety of old food packaging and cleaning products would circle a child’s vintage toy cooking range.  Daguerreotypes and old photos in ornate frames could be clustered on a wall behind a glass case containing a scattering of fossils and Indian points and shards. Intermixed throughout were rusted farm implements, documents, clothes, toys, books, and vintage costume jewelry.  I love that place. Its treasures are reflections of everyday life for the community that created them. 

“When I  Am Old” (and I am now) contains a few of my treasures--a mastodon tooth found by my father nestled in a box I made for it, a twisted wooden cane fashioned by my uncle in Germany during World War II, and an old valentine. These I leave for you, dear reader, as I prepare to float away.

About the Poet:  Tim Amsden’s work has appeared in Pudding Magazine, Poetry Ireland Review, Potpourri, Sin Fronteras, Out of Line, Rockhurst Review, New Mexico Magazine, Arabesques Review, Contemporary Verse 2, Istanbul Literature Review, The Newer York, Rattle, and elsewhere. His first full-length book of poetry, Vanishing Point, was published in 2015. Amsden worked for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for twenty-five years and now lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  “When I Am Old” was first published in the anthology Lasting: Poetic Visions of Aging (Pima Press, 2005).

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