by Steve Gaines

my “adulthood,” more or less,
spanned the final half
of the recently concluded century
from 1950
when I was one year into my teens
ever so close to chronological
adulthood at fourteen
if not so much in physical stature
(all five foot nothing of me)
right up to now
2000!!
a worn down sixty-something
(left with only pieces of my past
and about half a heart that works)
the big triple zero!
a year of blank new beginnings I suppose
conspicuous spaces to fill

today I am still lacking
all the sophomoric answers to whatever
confusion
I have been carrying around
from my very beginnings in the thirties
all the extra baggage collected
in my evolving mentality along the way
little bits and pieces of the grand mystery
but nothing in the way of absolute answers

1950 was a year I remember with strange fondness
in spite of my impatience
and confusion
regardless of my juvenile
preoccupations with the reasons
a tiny experiment hanging
precipitously in time and space
mine was a beginning fraught
with even more than the usual questions
an inconstant search for the big picture…
fully developed
alas an incomplete youth
always waiting for answers and “truth”
but innocent and satisfied
with my inconstant beginning
at no great odds
with inevitability or predestination
I was simply a burgeoning young male
reveling in the chemical intimations of puberty

who knows what 2000 will bring
what the next fraction
of this new millennium will provide
be it answers or questions
causes or conclusions
a collection of unnecessary
baggage trailing in my wake
before I check out for the final time
before I take that ultimate examination
before I discover at last my full measure
my grand success or my list of little failures

certainly there is more confusion every day
more questions against fewer solutions
but the impatience moderates I suppose
such a tenure as
I have managed speaks of patience
or at least of something like
tolerance for the great unknowns
what would I do with all those answers anyway?

not that I don’t stir up
that ragged edge of life’s trajectory
occasionally
in my little moments of sad response
in my ongoing failures and shortfalls
in my over simplified and repetitious wondering
in my wasted potential strewn across the landscape

and yet I would not wish away any
of those many false beginnings
since there are fewer moments
left to me than already spent
years gone up in the smoke of my frequent surrender
months spend waiting for the obvious
days dribbling away like pennies falling in an empty can
time ticking away from across the great void

because however profligate…
however well passed
time is a gift from now on I assume
working my way upstream
against the rapids of “old age”
bouncing unconvinced
from one small crisis in life to another almost
weekly
small pieces
breaking off like shards from an ancient art work
wearing out
like the great machine of my mind squeaking on
lubrication used
sparingly
and simply
on demand
for only those “important” moments needed to be gotten by
or birthdays
to remember
appointments
to be kept
everything
in the curious closet of my head
cluttered
in the manner of answers
to the great cosmic questions
that come boiling
to the top at the
strangest
of unpredicted moments
cries
into the great
void
of my ignorance
as I flounder
on the edge
of my palpable
innocence
and the silence
of eternal hope
forever
whispering

yet time has become a resistance
against which I have pushed everyday
for fifty of the past century’s years and more
a linear progression of struggles
a litany of careful corners around
which I have turned on my way nowhere

a curious continuum of searching for the big answers
a journey of hope and surrender to the inevitable
mysteries unsolved and reasons left in the vacuum
fifty years worth of results
weightless as the causes they have championed
the new millennium
suddenly upon us like a clap of thunder
like a great ripping of the comfortable night
I have constructed
like a science fiction dream
come all too real and incomprehensible

I wonder,
does all this new beginning
and fresh start possibility mean getting up
a new head of steam
preparing a new game plan
constructing some promising new scenario
does this new and empty century
beg a filling I haven’t the substance to
provide?

in the end,
I suppose,
it amounts to nothing so much as a new day
time is still as undefined as ever
and space rings my head
in the great and ubiquitous theories of
uncertainty
questions risen to the top of the mountain
and history devouring us all
inexorably as a black hole would
hungry and omnivorous as famished as ever,
as we are, unresisting,
sucked across that distant event horizon

all the answers I have conjured
over during the past half a hundred
years
are mixing and floating in the matrix
back to the big bang
a full scrapbook of physics and mythology

I’m just as
uncomfortable
and confused
but I can accept
that confusion not
as the answers might be
only as the
current thinking dictates
and if nothing else
I have become a creature of current thinking!