At Fifty

At Fifty

for Martin Ledford in honor of his 50th birthday

if you were a hippopotamus, orangutan
ostrich, condor, pilot whale or
wandering albatross you could
live this long if lucky.
if you were Henry the 8th you would
execute your fifth wife,
Catherine Howard.  Were the next
five years worth it?
if you were Cardinal Richelieu
you would found the Academie Francaise
and become immortal.
you wrote the final volume of
THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THE
ROMAN EMPIRE.  You wrote
THE AFFLUENT SOCIETY, THE GUNS
OF AUGUST, HISTORY OF SEXUALITY,
ON THE ORIGIN OF THE SPECIES,
DRACULA, STEPPENWOLF, CANCER
WARD and TAR BABY.
you died if you were Errol Flynn
and danced if you were Anthony Quinn.
like Katsushika Hokusai you say,
“I was born at age 50.”
if you were Wagner you would meet
King Ludwig.  if you were Mahler you
finish your 8th symphony.
like Rodin you, at last, begin
to accumulate wealth.
you found the boy scouts like
Robert Baden-Powell
you win the PGA in Canada
like Arnold Palmer.
you can still walk ten miles
in an hour and a half
(if you have to) and jump
twenty feet to or fro
should the devil cross
your path.

Franklin Abbott
24 January 2009
Stone Mountain
NOTE:  All information taken from TOLSTOY’S BICYCLE by Jeremy Baker.

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