“Halfway” [A Birthday Poem] (2009)

Today is my 35th birthday.  I mention it only because I feel strange today.  And so I’ve written a poem trying to explain why.

It’s laughably bad and violates, I suspect, every rule of poetry.  But I don’t claim to know any of the rules of poetry, and it is my poem, and I’ve tried to express what I’m thinking and feeling.

And maybe that’s enough.



“The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.” (Psalm 90:10)
It says
Like a doom or a hope
(Sometimes I wonder which.)
If that is so
Then it makes folly
Our mid-fifties label
Of “mid-life”
Fifty is not mid-life for most
Three-tens-and-five is.
And I am there.
And it sobers a man to think
As much behind as lies ahead
But only for a moment
For tomorrow is not halfway
It is closer to the brink
And closer to the end
Than today
And a panic sets in
The question, the stare
And “crisis” need not only apply
To those closer to done
I’ve seen thirty-five years
And I’ve squandered too much
And the reality stings like a blister
Here at halfway
So God be with me this day
(Unless I am closer than I know.)
Oh God of the halfway pilgrim
Of the en-route child
Simul justus et peccatore
Look upon me and smile
Not because I deserve it
You know I do not
But smile at me in the halfway
So I can step into tomorrow
So I can see this frail moment
In the light of glory
That shekinah-enfleshed truth
That calls me home
I give you the halfway crisis
I give you the halfway joy
I give you my halfway heart
Break it and make it yours.


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