Jerome L. McElroy
St. Mary's College
Notre Dame, IN 46556
(219) 284-4488 24 lines

Mid-Life*

All my over-fifty friends
have stalled in mid-life traffic.
Tony's Harley's always in the shop.
Derrick needs a loan to replace
his Beamer's tires. Don's opalescent
Lincoln's wrecked, can't match the paint.
Susan's left the nest for UPS, on strike.
Jake's golf vacation was cut short
when lightning struck his driver, in hand.
John and Jane shed their Hampton haunts
to Gulfstream the heartland, melting in July
while Audrey Overpass flags by the universe.

I took the lane less traveled
and exited the tunnel with aplomb:
mowing grass in rain, talking to myself
out loud, wearing Reeboks to the faculty
assembly, passing up the jackpot and Viagra,
always parking with a front-wheel attitude,
trading handball, contacts and T-bones
for pitted prunes and floss, trifocals and bran.
Most surprising sacrifice, I sold my extra
memory for a designer birdhouse village
shunning daily e-trade quotes downstairs
to pen the first aerial opera

of the bluebird neighborhood outside.

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*Accepted in Timber Creek Review 6(1) (Summer 1999): 56.