Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Journey to Light

Way back in 1991, the old Midnight Poet joined a group of other Michigan Technological University staff and faculty members to tackle a weight-loss challenge. In 13 weeks the group lost a total of 748 pounds. Many of us were justifiably proud of losing to win.

Of course, I had a meeting with my Muse and a poem was the result. Our local newspaper, the Daily Mining Gazette, was covering the story. I submitted my poem to them and they published it on May 17, 1991, sharing the page with their article on the project. Journey to Light explores the nature of carbohydrate addiction and reflects on the saddest fact of all: When food is your addiction, you cannot go cold turkey -- unless it is on a Kaiser roll with Swiss, lettuce, and mayo...


Journey to Light

I harken back to days of blubber,
When food was king and flesh was rubber:
When bulges formed on both my sides,
In time with daily lunar tides,
And often was my day complete,
When I caught glimpses of my feet.

I pondered, as I filled each chair,
The tensile strength of underwear,
And tried its textile might to guess,
When placed under extreme duress.
I dreaded times when I bent over,
And thought that I had "broken cover."

I miss the junk food most of all.
The chips and candy, large and small
Servings of such sweet confections,
(My insulin went all directions)
Were central to my very life,
Exceeding job, children, or wife.

Addicted? Yes, and also, sadly,
Dying well while living badly.
Days spent thinking thoughts so dark,
That life retained so little spark,
As to extinguish all desire
to rise, and just let life expire.

I now look back, and laud the day,
I said I could not live that way
Any longer, and I began to shed,
The pounds that tried to make me dead.
I'm proud of what I've done you see,
But still have work to do on me.

Anyone got a Butterfinger?

Mick McKellar
May 1991

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Papa Bear Still Dreams

In one of my favorite movies, Three Men and a Baby, Tom Selleck's character is the decision-maker and leader of a trio of bachelors, two of whom are middle-aged adolescents. Near the end of the movie, he despairs of solving his romantic problems because of all the responsibilities he bears, and one of the other characters, in a flash of insight, says: "It's not easy being Papa Bear..."

The long and winding path of life often takes you places you did not intend. Papa Bear has to make his family’s journey a safe one. He is charged with responsibility, and occasionally, in the quiet times, dreams of the day his family takes over­ -- and is he is only responsible to be himself.

In today's world, however, Papa Bear's journey never seems to end. Only on the dream path does he meet his younger self. Only there are all his friends and ancestors still alive. Only there can he watch himself, as he was when the rush of youth was upon him.

This poem walks the dream path -- where the hopes and dreams of youth still play and dance, despite the insidious limitations brought on by an aging shell.


Papa Bear Still Dreams

The sadness in his eyes betrays,
With subtle shades of trepidation,

The tiny smile his mouth displays,
So fraught with grim determination.

The waltz he danced in younger days,
With feet both swift and daring, eager;
Now tires his frame in unkind ways,
And drains his passion, thinner...meager.

His fire, now burning bitter herbs,
His massive frame once straight, is bending.
His basket full of action verbs,
Once vast, now all relate to ending.

His friends are dying, one-by-one.
He feels his comrades, all deserting
His love, which once burned like the Sun.
Now wounded, it lies abed, hurting.

An ancient soul, long bound in chains,
Striving without hope against his yokes,
He unrepentantly remains
The struggling butt of so many jokes...

His golden years have turned to lead,
Even though his alchemy was sound.
Yet, his sweet dreams are not quite dead,
Cherished reveries are still around.

And in his bed, still as stone -
Near motionless on home-bound gurney,
He watches them, and walks alone,
On dream-lit paths through night's long journey.

Mick McKellar
May 2010