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Still Here

by Zettel 

Posted: 26 September 2013
Word Count: 212

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Still Here

Thing about age
you’re in the action no more
Bystander, bit part player
no role, no lines
part of the set
way upstage
seen but not heard
talked about, not really talked to
heard then ignored
Fuck you - I’m still here!
Of course you are they lovingly coo
patronisingly bored

Thing about age
you’re not in the game any more
substitute’s bench
filling in time
while the real players rest
Run down the clock
don’t try to win
just try not to lose
But I’ve still got some game
let me leave it out there
strength cedes to guile
heart’s still the same

Thing about age
you’re not becoming just been
no future to offer
just some lessons from life
joy and delight
loss and remorse
Surrounded by love
but in love no more
yet a tongue of past fire
burns as bright as before
passion now stronger, more knowing
ignites a much deeper desire

Thing about age
just a number not fate
screw being old
it’s never too late
I don’t want your youth
mine wasn’t that great
I want who I am
with no one to hate
no excuses, regrets or illusions
still moved and drawn to create
remember...I'm your future
the difference is merely a date

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Comments by other Members

James Graham at 19:27 on 28 September 2013  Report this post
Reaction to this poem will vary according to the age of the reader! Some might say this voice of old age protests too much, but that would be the arrogance of youth. I like the up-yours tone of this poem. Some lines, for those (like me) of a certain age, ring very true. ‘What oft was thought, but ne’er so well expressed’. Actually Pope’s next line is even more relevant:

Something whose truth convinced at sight we find

Some lines of yours which convince me at sight are

strength cedes to guile
heart’s still the same


I don’t want your youth
mine wasn’t that great
I want who I am
with no one to hate

Maybe the most telling of all is

you’re not becoming just been

which is the voice of youth, but it reminds us that if we love life, even as oldies we are still ‘becoming’. Always ‘becoming’.

There are one or two lines I feel are weak, but it’s hard to see how to change them. The last line is a bit of a cliche, which is a pity because you avoid cliche generally in the poem. Changing it could mean changing the third last line too, because of the rhyme.

To save having to do that, I thought just another word instead of ‘honourable’ would do the trick. I looked up ‘rich’ in the thesaurus, because age is the time when we have gathered all the experience, all the lessons learned. So I came up with ‘Age is the plentiful estate’ - but when I see it written down it doesn’t seem so clever.

Another last line (very different) that just came to me was:

can’t you see I’m your future
I’m the book you should read

Then ‘recede’ occurred as a possible rhyme for the third-last line.

embrace my whole life
let no chapter/passage recede
can’t you see I’m your future
I’m the book you should read

These are meant only as suggestions that might lead you to something else, something more in tune with your own poem and voice than my efforts could be.

One other pair of lines strikes me as coming to an anti-climax:

yet a tongue of past fire
passion just sleeping not dead

The first of these is a very striking image, then the second more or less repeats the idea in prosaic language. You can’t just leave it out because you would reduce the stanza to 11 lines. It could be livened up, though. ‘Tongue of past fire’ suggested a volcano to me - so the next line could reinforce the idea using the words ‘dormant not extinct’.

Let me know what you think of these suggestions.

At the risk of making this the longest WW comment ever, I can’t help quoting a line and a half that that I vaguely remembered but had to look up. It’s very near the end of the last book of Wordsworth’s The Prelude:

I said unto the life which I had lived,
Where art thou?

The gist of the lines that follow is, the life I lived is still with me, not lost. I’m ‘still here’.


Zettel at 03:02 on 29 September 2013  Report this post

Thanks for all the comments. I agree with your invaluable points and have used them as a starting point to try to improve what is a little bit of a throw away poem. As I think you picked up, this was very much a spontaneous poem of the moment and perhaps a bit 'ranty'. I'm ok with rants now and then; like pain they prove you're alive and not going gently.......

I'm flattered by the reference to Pope and of course moved by the Wordsworth. My only cavil with the latter is that people of age, the, as we might say, chronologically gifted, are constantly invited, pressurized, patronized, categorized into conspiring with a number of myths about being old which is then conflated fallaciously with age by lazy thinking; into a conspiracy of dismissal. The result is exactly the kind of wistful, backward-looking ache implicit in Wordsworth's none-the-less beautifully formed lines.

We are a deeply Philistine culture regarding age; profligately throwing away invaluable wisdom, experience and insight mostly out of apathetic laziness. Our culture doesn't harry or hound people of age with hostility - it ignores them to death.

It would be just plain foolish to rail against age: time is the melody of life upon which death confers its deepest value. This perception can come to us at any age for it is timeless. People of age don't need more people to feel sorry for them, fight for them: having spent most of their lives fighting bitter wars; economic depressions that dwarf our current economic malaise; and still living independent, honourable and decent lives, how could it be that on a certain day of a certain year they suddenly lose the will and the courage, indeed the anger, to fight for themselves? Of course they don't - but our culture treats them as waving not drowning.

Second rant over.

As for me: I resist the impertinent question as to my age by quoting the great Italian Film Director (Luchino Visconti - Death in Venice et al):

"I still have my heart, my mind, and my balls - why should I care how old I am?"

(Sounds even better in Italian).

Thanks as ever



James Graham at 10:15 on 02 October 2013  Report this post
It would be good to see a revision of this poem. There may be such a thing as a throwaway poem, but this isn't one. After revision, if you're so inclined you could try submitting it to Every Day Poets. It would be worth submitting your previous poem too - 'Handing On'. I don't know if you want to do this kind of thing, but it does mean your work would be seen by a wider readership.

I agree about Wordsworth, who seemed to surrender to old age. One of his most disturbing lines is 'I long for a repose that ever is the same'. No thank you - I'll go with Visconti.


Zettel at 14:38 on 02 October 2013  Report this post
Thanks James. I'd love to get something published but tried a long time ago and didn't any response so sort of gave up.

Don't know Every Man - do I just send on spec? do you know the link?

This was supposed to be the revised version of still here incorporating the spirit of your points - though I could look again at polishing a bit more.

thanks anyway.



Zettel at 21:47 on 04 October 2013  Report this post
thanks for the help James


James Graham at 15:24 on 05 October 2013  Report this post
I've had a good look at your revised version and your new last stanza does the trick for me. You already had the regular -ate rhyme pattern in the original, but now it works better because the end-words have more weight. More rhyming lines at the end of a poem suggests more certainty as to what the poem is saying; it's your last word on the subject and the form is, appropriately, in more of a pattern. So with a strong final stanza the whole poem seems to fall into place.


Zettel at 16:54 on 05 October 2013  Report this post

I have submitted Handing On to Everyday Poets.

However does not the fact that it has been put on Writewords contravene their rules?

Don't the submission terms sign away any rights for $1? (Not that I really expect this to become an issue).

Do you know of any more traditional publisher open to receiving submissions? Or is it just a case of trying pot luck?



Zettel at 00:49 on 15 October 2013  Report this post
Every Day have rejected Handing On* because they say that they don't use anything that has appeared elsewhere on the net - for however short a time. I took it down form my site before submission but I guess as it has been on WW that disqualifies. Therefore it would have to be the first port of call before posting on WW.

As they pay $1 for copyright as well - not sure I want to get into them. Have took for a more traditional outlet even if internet-based.

* I only posted that very short piece to get the lie of the land



Dave Morehouse at 16:26 on 15 October 2013  Report this post
...but I guess as it has been on WW that disqualifies.
I don't think so unless they have changed their policy in the last couple weeks. When you post a poem here at WW do you check the "Only My Writers' Group" option? That keeps it private to the group members and magazines don't consider that as being previously published.

Regarding the $1 payment, that is only for First Time Publication Rights. The rights to the poem revert back to the author after the publication date. Hope this helps.

Don't feel badly about having your poem rejected. It happens to each of us, more often than we care to admit. It could be they have too many poems similar to yours, word count, genre, or personal tastes. The key is to keep working on new poems, revising older work, and submitting to publications that look like they will be a good fit for your work. Best wishes, Dave.

Bazz at 19:08 on 17 October 2013  Report this post
I just had something accepted by everyday poets, and it was on here first, so i don't think they have a problem with work on this site (I've got it set on members only). I did have another poem rejected because it had been on my blog, though. It might be worth trying them again and explaining?

Zettel at 17:49 on 23 October 2013  Report this post
Thanks guys. will follow up.



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