Noonday Shadows Burning

How long do you think you have left
until you die?
I was wondering if it really matters, not conversationally
but in the Grand Scheme of Things
like destiny or fate or some such crap.
Assuming we’re measuring on an epic scale-
or whatever

But seriously,
how long do you think you have left?
If an average lifespan is seventy years,
or maybe 80 if you don’t treat yourself too bad,
we can play the average game
and call it 75
(only two thirds left, and shortening, and shortening)

Are you taking medical advances into account?
What if you died tomorrow
to leave a beautiful corpse?
Would you miss the maybe-years
That shrink before your eyes like shadows
under the noonday sun?

And what’s the difference anyway?
Now or later, it’s hard to have regrets when you’re gone.
In all the world with it’s heaving masses,
how many rely on those things that shape your being –
Your pent-up aggression, your love of storms at night,
and the way that every now and then
you see something black and wet
moving just beyond your peripheral vision.

Life in a box in the suburbs,
does it still hold it’s allure?
Watching game shows, eating burgers,
pretending to be sick to avoid work?
Washing dishes, paying taxes,
burying parents.
(And you get a day off work for a funeral too)

Because there’s always suffering, isn’t there?
We know it, we recognise it, we ignore it.
We’re hypocrites, of course.
We put animals out of their misery,
And with the arrogance of youth, consign our progenitors
to homes and hospitals and asylums.
Will you go quietly when your children arrive
with false smiles and guilty-happy eyes?

A choice exists, for those who will see it.
to live their own lives, forgetting about the expectations of others
to make their own decisions, (to hell with cola propaganda)
to make their own reality – don’t roll your eyes at me,
Deep down, you know – we impose our own limits,
and lay the blame at the feet of anyone but ourselves.

And speaking of limits,
How long do you think you have left?
Do you know what time it is?
I for one am willing to bet that
it’s later than you think.

by James Atkins

Other poems of ATKINS (17)

Comments (2)

Interesting look at time and what it all means. I'll be honest, I purposely don't ask myself these questions, to an extent for the very reason you outline, the pointlessness in a way. I tend to think in terms of seeing my children grow up, maybe seeing grandchildren someday, but when its over, it will end. Very interesting, L&T
ooh... have you been reading Philip Larkin - his poetry was always obessed with the passage of time & what's the point of it all. Indeed