little i

From 73 Poems by e.e. cummings, published posthumously © 1963:

who are you,little i

(five or six years old)
peering from some high

window;at the gold

of november sunset

(and feeling:that if day
has to become night

this is a beautiful way)

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The Middle Way

“when the road forked / he took the middle way / and disappeared into the desert…” ~Robert Shelton, The Angel and the Anchorite, ©1978

Experience

Experience to Let
by Ogden Nash
from I’m A Stranger Here Myself © 1938

Experience is a futile teacher,
Experience is a prosy preacher,
Experience is a fruit tree fruitless,
Experience is a shoe tree bootless.
For sterile wearience and drearience,
Depend, my boy, upon experience.
The burnt child, urged by rankling ire,
Can hardly wait to get back at the fire.
And, mulcted in the gambling den,
Men stand in line to gamble again.
Who says that he can drink or not?
The sober man? Nay, nay, the sot.
He who has never tasted jail
Lives well within the legal pale,
While he who’s served a heavy sentence
Renews the racket, not repentance.
The nation bankrupt by a war
Thinks to recoup with just one more;
The wretched golfer, divot-bound,
Persists in dreams of the perfect round;
Life’s little suckers chirp like crickets
While spending their all on losing tickets.
People whose instinct instructs them naught,
But must by experience be taught,
Will never learn by suffering once,
But ever and ever play the dunce.
Experience! Wise men do not need it!
Experience! Idiots do not head it!
I’d trade my lake of experience
For just one drop of common sense.

Old Men Know

Old Men
by Ogden Nash
from Hard Lines © 1931

People expect old men to die.
They do not really mourn old men.
Old men are different. People look
At them with eyes that wonder when…
People watch with unshocked eyes;
But the old men know when an old man dies.

Ogden Nash was known more for his humorous poems, but he could be poignant when he wanted to.

He was 29 years old when he wrote the poem above.

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“The problem was you had to keep choosing between one evil or another, and no matter what you chose, they sliced a little bit more off you, until there was nothing left. At the age of 25 most people were finished. A whole god-damned nation of assholes driving automobiles, eating, having babies, doing everything in the worst way possible, like voting for the presidential candidates who reminded them most of themselves. I had no interests. I had no interest in anything. I had no idea how I was going to escape. At least the others had some taste for life. They seemed to understand something that I didn’t understand. Maybe I was lacking. It was possible. I often felt inferior. I just wanted to get away from them. But there was no place to go.”  ~Charles Bukowski