Jay Harden
Jay Harden

Author's Name: Jay Harden

Title: "What Lessons Are Left"

what lessons are left
the old man wonders
as the old mind wanders

what lessons are left
from fighting a war
out the window
as the sun burns away

so vivid for me
the old mind wanders
through four hundred
hours of combat

the old man wonders
who was that boy
as the clock sweeps 
fainter now

I did it for them
didn’t I 
the old mind wanders
or for myself, yes

the old man wonders
why did I do it at all
as wild whiskers wilt

the juice of youth
I think, no more
the old mind wanders

so many peers dying
so many more crying
the old man wonders

me, more than anyone knows
as my heart is cracking

more I have learned
than ever taught
than ever intended
the old mind wanders

wise now, too alone
with none to hear at all
the old man wonders
as the kettle boiling over
begins to melt

shall I leave a message
of wasteful death
of meaningful valor
of any valor at all
repeated lessons
of every generation
no, not now

the old mind wanders
as the old man wonders

what lessons are left
the old man
and the old mind know

while the kettle melts
a heart cracks
whiskers wilt
out the window 
as the sun burns away