Wednesday, June 20, 2007

59th Birthday Post!

Hi, I wanted to post something special for my birthday, but now that I'm going to be 59 I've starting to get lazier so I'm just going to re-cycle something I wrote when I was 54. Hope you don't mind.

It's a poem (a sonnet!) I wrote as part of a special feature in the online Culture/Arts/Literature journal The Scream on Line ( The editor Stuart Vail asked a number of writers to write about the topic "Coming of Age." I wrote a long three part poem called "1968" about what that year was like for me, and what follows is the final section of that poem.

The poem talks about what "Coming of Age" means to me. When I was younger I thought that there would be these great defining moments in my life that would transform me. Those moments would take the kid I was and put me through the whirlwind, shake me up and spit me out in a three piece suit or a scuba divers' mask, and the rest of my life I would be the person the whirlwind experience made.

What I learned was that that's not how life works for me, or for most of us. But I'm talking too much.

Here's the poem:

Coming of Age?

I'm 54 and next year will be 55
(on June 22 if you want to send flowers
or candy), and what I’ve learned about
coming of age is that we come of age
the way the great glaciers come of age.
Slowly. One year we melt a little.
The next we freeze a little. A wind
comes from no place and shines up
our northern walls. The next year
the wind is a little stronger or weaker.
We don’t change the way people in books
change. Today’s hero, tomorrow’s fool.
Our future—a patient grandmother
with a toddler in hand—comes slowly.

If you want to see the rest of the poem that that came from, it's at


Sara said...

Happy Birthday, John!

John Guzlowski said...

Sara, thanks.

Marty said...

That means your coffee's on me. Well, not literally, I hope. See you Friday.

John Guzlowski said...

that's great. Even though I owe you money!

myshkin2 said...

Sto lat, Janusz, niech zyje nam!


John Guzlowski said...

Thanks, Myshkin--and you too!

A hundred years.

eva said...

Happy Birthday, John. I'm 8 days older than you. I hate that. Unlike you, I seem to age at an alarming rate!

John Guzlowski said...

Eva, the secret is to use old photos! The one that accompanies the poem is from 1984 or 1985.

John Guzlowski said...

Eva, I almost forgot--happy birthday to you too!

And I better wish my friend Bob Milevski a happy birthday too. He's about a week older than me.

Happy birthday, Bob.


Danusha said...

Sto lat! Sto lat!
Niech zyje, zyje nam.
Sto lat! Sto lat! Niech zyje, zyje nam.
Jeszcze raz! Jeszcze raz! Niech zyje, zyje nam.
Niech zyje nam.

Happy Birthday, John.

Thank you for all you've done.

robin said...


Happy Birthday! It looks like you've had plenty of ice cream (at least according to the picture). And the poem is the icing on the cake--hope you have some good cake to celebrate. Your poem rang true for me. My mother tells me she feels the same as she did when she was 18 (at least on the "inside"). She' my role model.


Urkat said...

"An aged man's a paltry thing, a tattered coat upon a stick, unless soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing for every tatter in its mortal dress." Happy birthday.

John Guzlowski said...

Matt, thanks for the bits of Yeats. It's always been one of my favorites--maybe because I've always felt like an old man.

Urkat said...

It's great to be reminded of great things.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog John - I like yours, now that I've found it. As suggested, I've fixed the link to Urkat's site. I'm sorry that the two of you are exiled to Georgia, but the photos you've posted make me realize that maybe my sympathy is just typical New York snotiness. Oh well - so be it.

Take care, and Happy Happy.

Urkat said...

Thanks for that! I'm glad you all got in touch.

Penultimatina said...

Happy birthday, John!

PS--Thank you for the lovely review on Amazon. I appreciate all of your kind words!

Urkat said...

Unbelievably Dark says: Don't forget John, ice cream sundaes melt in the noonday sun. You can't hide beneath a layer of chocolate.