When I was a little lad (oops, am still little!). We had a book at home called C.J. Dennis ‘Book for Kids’. In it was all these rollicking, rhyming tales about if I was a postman, baker, tram-man etc. I was greatly taken with these tales and with Dennis’s style. Later I would learn of and hear a reading of Dennis’s ‘Glugs of Gosh’. In that epic poem, Dennis applied generous coats of cynicism and satire, with loads of imagination. All of this clearly influences the poem I’m blogging here called ’40 Something’. For more on C.J. Dennis see db.anu.edu.au/biography/dennis-clarence-michael-james-5957 . The other influences on ’40 Something’ are my own observations of life and oblique references to spiritual reading from Richard Rohr, OFM on Carl Jung’s work on the first and second half of life. This poem is meant to be light, humourous and tongue-in-cheek, with a measure of meat mixed in here and there. For Rohr’s work on the first and second half of life see his book ‘Falling Upward’.
Another life, another kind…
I could’ve married someone,
But they married someone else!
I could’ve had some kiddies,
But I’m on another shelf.
I could’ve been a journo,
And wrote for the local rag,
Doing local gossip,
But I would’ve been a dag.
I could’ve been a teacher,
Teaching novels and poems and stuff,
Some cut n’ paste on school reports,
But I’d find whingeing families tough.
I coulda been a travel agent,
There’d be no end to my roam,
But if a customer lost their baggage,
I might not answer the phone!
I haven’t got a wife now
To tell me what to do,
To organise my where and how
When I don’t have a clue.
Might get me a new gay marriage,
But it could end in tears,
Lined up in the divorce courts
And still in relationship arrears,
If I were another mid-lifer,
I might’ve had three wives by today,
I think I’ll stay where I am,
For I’m getting used to this way.
Some say that in the forties,
There is a second half of life,
That you’re less competitive, and more mellow,
And can handle more of the strife.
I guess you just get better,
At fixing mistakes and covering your butt,
You learn to live with contradictions,
And when to keep your mouth shut!
So let’s put it down to experience,
And leave lost loves behind,
You are what you have lived thus far,
And are invited to be kind.
To be kind to your leaders,
And to others along the road,
You don’t walk in their shoes,
So you best not kick their load.
As life has its way with you,
The hurts might take their toll,
But in the broken pieces
You grasp a part of the beautiful whole.
None of us has all the wisdom,
Or the habits right down pat,
We can all learn from each other
To figure out where we’re at.
If it wasn’t for the gifts of grace,
Of family, friends and peers,
I’d have ended up going nowhere
For many, many years.
We all question our lot in life,
And give in to our doubts,
Then temptation speeds around the corner,
And our restlessness then shouts.
So, be gentle with your longings,
They can with your plans play tricks,
Acknowledge and understand them,
To get a better mix.
The coulda, shoulda, woulda, talk
Can make a disturbing din!
and you find
with yourselves and others
just be kind.
Simon C.J Falk 8 December 2013
Plaque honouring C.J. Dennis in Auburn, South Australia