Prolonged exposure to death
Has made my friend quieter.
Now his nose is less like a hatchet
And more like a snuffler.
Flames don't erupt from his mouth anymore
And life doesn't crack his thermometer.
Instead of overthrowing the government
He reads fly-fishing catalogues
And takes photographs of water.
An aphorist would say
The horns of the steer have grown straighter.
He has an older heart
that beats younger.
His Attila the Hun imitation
Is not as good as it used to be.
Everything else is better.
Copyright 2012 by Tony Hoagland. Used with permission of the author.

Poems by This Author

Coming and Going by Tony Hoagland
My marriage ended in an airport long ago.
I Have News for You by Tony Hoagland
There are people who do not see a broken playground swing
In Praise of Their Divorce by Tony Hoagland
And when I heard about the divorce of my friends
Jet by Tony Hoagland
Sometimes I wish I were still out
Lucky by Tony Hoagland
If you are lucky in this life,
Reading Moby-Dick at 30,000 Feet by Tony Hoagland
At this height, Kansas
Reasons To Survive November by Tony Hoagland
The Change by Tony Hoagland
The season turned like the page of a glossy fashion magazine

Further Reading

Poems About Aging
Abandonment Under the Walnut Tree
by D. A. Powell
by Donald Hall
by Robert Creeley
Age and Death
by Emma Lazarus
Almost Sixty
by Jim Moore
Beyond the Years
by Paul Laurence Dunbar
by Elizabeth Alexander
Demeter in Paris
by Meghan O'Rourke
by John Koethe
El Dorado
by Edgar Allan Poe
Fear of the Future
by John Koethe
First Gestures
by Julia Spicher Kasdorf
Fixed Interval
by Devin Johnston
by Billy Collins
by T.S. Eliot
Get Up, Please
by David Kirby
In View of the Fact
by A. R. Ammons
Looking Back in My Eighty-First Year
by Maxine Kumin
by Sara Teasdale
My Lost Youth
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
My Skeleton
by Jane Hirshfield
Poem at Thirty
by Michael Ryan
by Effie Waller Smith
Refusing at Fifty-Two to Write Sonnets
by Thomas Lynch
Rock Me to Sleep
by Elizabeth Akers Allen
by Adam Zagajewski
Since Nine—
by C. P. Cavafy
The Chicago Poem
by Jerome Rothenberg
The Edges of Time
by Kay Ryan
The Human Seasons
by John Keats
The Tower
by W. B. Yeats
The Widows of Gravesend
by L. S. Asekoff
The Young Man's Song
by W. B. Yeats
this kind of fire
by Charles Bukowski
To a Young Girl at a Window
by Margaret Widdemer
To Chloe: Who for his sake wished herself younger
by William Cartwright
To Earthward
by Robert Frost
to my last period
by Lucille Clifton
To Think of Time
by Walt Whitman
Two Horses and a Dog
by James Galvin
When You are Old
by W. B. Yeats