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Nothing's Been the Same Since John Wayne Died
William Greenway


My world isn't hers, skin
like mocha coffee she climbs
into each morning, air pouring
through her throat clear
as creekwater, no line where
brown legs slide into
silk shorts. She's my student
but I'm in class now, aerobics,
flunking in a room of convex
mirrors and dumbbells, though
she's patient, pities me, the
sounds I make for air. It's
hopeless as a dancing bear, Disney
hippo in a tutu, a friend's
father. She wants to pop
candy in my mouth when I do
something right. To her, cigarettes
smell like burning celery, liquor
is shellac, her heart has a slow
beat and sticks to it, she can bench press
me. I sort of pity her, daughter
I never had, how far she has             
to go, how dirty and heavy.
But she's perfect now, and even
her hard music gets under my
fat, sets my frog leg jumping
in jean stores.
She's working hard to get me young,
I'm aging her fast,
and three times a week
we keep meeting here.

From William Greenway: Selected Poems (FutureCycle Press (2014).
This poem first appeared in Grow Old Along With Me, The Best Is Yet To Be (Papier-Mâché‚ Press, 1996).
Used here with the author's permission.


William Greenway was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, where his father hoped he would be a Baptist preacher, as he was, and his mother wanted a football hero. Instead, William tried to be a folk singer. He started writing poems when he realized his lyrics were far better than his music. Now Distinguished Professor of English Emeritus at Youngstown State University in Ohio, he is the author of twelve books and has won numerous awards, including Poetry Book of the Year from the Ohio Library Association (for Everywhere at Once) and Georgia Author of the Year. A new collection, Everything We Bring, All We Leave Behind, is forthcoming from Main Street Rag Press.



Post New Comment:
Humorous and quite true. I have seen him!
Posted 08/30/2018 05:31 PM
This is a poem worth reading more than once, for all of us who can, now, truly relate. I love it...and all the unique comparisons.
Posted 08/26/2018 09:40 AM
Mary Lou Taylor:
Loved the contrast! And, yes, the fun.
Posted 08/25/2018 06:33 PM
Lori Levy:
Love the humor and language in this poem.
Posted 08/25/2018 04:10 PM
Posted 08/25/2018 09:31 AM
Absolutley LOVE this!
Posted 08/25/2018 09:18 AM
michael escoubas:
Perhaps we are the same age, William? It IS a different world and like you, I see a lot of good in new things, albeit it laced with irony! Thank you.
Posted 08/25/2018 08:37 AM
Larry Schug:
The entire poem leads to the last line that says it all.
Posted 08/25/2018 08:28 AM

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