The Brittle Age

by Michael Kalisch

And when you fall into your brittle age,
With the print grown too small upon the page,
Spine creased and folded, skin torn paper thin,
Teeth chatt’ring hollowly at the draught edging in;
When the bedpan’s unemptied, dishes pushed aside,
Television calling the times of next high tide,

Know, know then that you have not slipped
Quietly, gracefully into that long good night,
You have not faded like an ocean sunset, but tripped
Rather stumbled, waxed half-dead by phosphor-light;
You have been broken against the rocks, churned
And shredded, feebly splintered and returned
Clawing, in soiled underwear, at the page
Unfocused and unending, of your dull and brittle age.

Michael Kalisch is 18 and from Devon. He was an overall winner of the Foyle Young Poet Prize 2008.

  1. #1 by Jared on November 24, 2009 - 4:42 pm

    I like the comparison of old age to a worn paperback. Other than that this piece seems to be all over the place. What is it really talking about? It seemingly presents several ideas at random and there is no real coherency holding everything together.

  2. #2 by Michael Kalisch on November 24, 2009 - 7:37 pm

    Many thanks for reading my piece, Jared, and taking the time to comment. The focus of the piece, as you have rightly observed, is aging; but more specifically, the actuality of aging, stripped of its romanticism. In this respect, it aims to capture some of the Arnoldian bleakness of “Growing Old”, which partly inspired it. I’d suggest that rather than “several ideas” being explored, the piece sticks pretty closely to this single concept- a lack of range or thematic development would perhaps be a more valid criticism.

  3. #3 by Bob Jacobs on November 26, 2009 - 12:15 am

    As a non-poet I can offer no constructive criticism, but I enjoyed the read and the images you created, and wish you the best of luck with your poetry.


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