As I have stated before, many of my poems are “organic.” By organic, I mean that they are written without any stylized, repetitive meter. The rule when writing by ear: if it sounds good, use it.
Several years ago, a good friend had her elderly father die after a long stay in the hospital. I wrote this poem, Old Man, after his death and she found some solace in it. This was an instance when the poet’s quill took off on its own. Lines appeared that I had not foreseen—organic, in particular, the entire last stanza.
Although Old Man is written in mixed iambic feet, it turned out so well, that in the remote possibility that I do not live forever, I have requested it be read at my funeral.
By Mike Patrick
Am I to think of bygone days?
Is my life then so far gone?
Time spent in wasteful ways
Goes twice as fast when passing on.
Don’t wait for me to follow.
Hurry, quick as you can.
Gulp down life in one fast swallow,
Not the sips of this old man.
I’ve forgotten much in these few days,
I’m scared and have the right to be.
With strangers involved in unknown ways,
Looking harshly down on me.
Bless these few now near my bed
Who turn and ease my plight.
I need help to raise my head
To watch the coming night.
You needn’t rush now; tis nearly done.
The Reaper’s close at hand.
Never again a rising sun
Will greet me in this land.
Tell those who wait, I’ll miss then not.
The path, for them, I’ll find.
And blaze the trail with ease to spot
For those I leave behind.
I look back upon the sheet
That doesn’t cover me.
Running upward on lightest feet,
Glories ahead to see.
Oh I’ll be here when your turn comes;
When life’s anchor turns you free.
But for now, I have to run.
I hear my parents calling me.