On Being Thirty-Six


after Philip Larkin


I feared these present years,

         the mid-thirties,

when my receding hairline

became backed up

like rush-hour traffic on the Gulf Freeway,

         & my man-boobs swelled


into Tig Ol’ Bitties. I wonder:

         can Dr. Neil

deGrasse Tyson explain

the phenomenon of how

scrotum sacs start succumbing to gravity?

         Each time I bend down,


it sounds like there are branches

         breaking inside

of my knees—

a burden I wish

stemmed from long hours of shooting hoops

         & stealing the rock


from flashy point guards

         more in love

with the sound of their

own dribble than the sound

of their coach sliding “W’s” in the Win column.

         I’m four years


shy of having a doctor

         cram a microscope

in my chili con queso

to detect if any cauliflower-

shaped polyps have sprouted in my colon.

         How real this shit be;


ritual, you’re tacky:

         a neon sherbet orange


sweater handed down,

illuminating the fact

that I’m slowly turning towards decay.

         I just want to live life


unencumbered by lower

         back pain,

by overzealous

students insisting

my soothing bass will give Morgan Freeman’s baritone

         a run for its money


when it comes

         to narrating

the lives of geoducks,

tortoises, & tuataras:

animals that will outlive great-grandparents


but never the legacy

         behind amazing

architecture shaped

like a lotus flower.

The body isn’t a temple; it’s built

         to wither.


I choose to shrivel

         up with grace

in autumn, falling

in slow motion

with brass leaves extending the muted sound

         of a jazzy zephyr.


Jonathan Moody is the author of The Doomy Poems and Olympic Butter Gold, which won the Cave Canem Northwestern University Press Poetry Prize. 

Julia PikeOn Being Thirty-Six

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