Mary Jo Salter: “Old Saw”

Old Saw

The cat is out of the bag,
the horse has left the barn,
the train pulled out of the station,
no bridge is left to burn,
the genie can’t be put
back in the bottle, and
in short, it’s long been time
to take our medicine.

They threw us under the bus.
It feels as if we’re to blame.
Maybe we are: we wonder,
when did we turn obtuse?
How did we lose our charm?
Why do our old saws,
our hats, our radio shows,
so harmless, make them squirm?

And do they think we love
their swear words and tattoos?
If we could, we’d take a walk.
It’s years since we could drive.
They roll their eyes when we talk.
They’re glad when we go to bed.
Why did we wake today
on the wrong side of the dead?

Mary Jo Salter’s eighth book of poems, The Surveyors, will be published by Knopf in 2017. Salter is a co-editor of The Norton Anthology of Poetry and Krieger-Eisenhower Professor in The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University.  She lives in Baltimore.

Image: Samuel Joshua Beckett, “[Loie Fuller Dancing]