I hurt my back today, brushing my teeth.

 To tell the truth, it’s not a thing

I thought a person could do.

The mechanics are obscure.

It certainly never happened when I was


In the cockpit, my handsome


year-old co-pilot and my pretty


year-old flight attendant share an exuberant laugh. 

I say hello and smile. The laugh dissipates into the ether. 

I do the math. Twenty-three plus Twenty-one equals


They are properly solicitous of their old Captain.

They inquire about my day, and my wife, 

and the weather in Santa Fe.

 But they don’t tell me what was

 so funny.

I stop to to talk to my daughter’s roommate, 

to compliment her editorial in the college paper, 

the one about cultural appropriation. 

I sense a kindred spirit, her fight so like

the liberal causes I championed, when I was


My brilliant, fierce, and caustic essays beat down apartheid 

(at least in Galesburg, IL.)

But she was late, and on her way to class, 

and distracted by a major crisis, 

involving her Instagram feed.

Respectful and deferential, 

she held the door for me as we went out, 

as if I was an old man, and not a fellow warrior 

in the battle against injustice. 

I think I spent too much of my youth being


I followed the rules; I aimed to please.

I got good grades, and mostly abstained from


I kept my powder dry; I lay in wait. 

I built a nest egg, and I collected data. 

I awaited the hour when I could use my competence, 

my acumen, my knowledge, to awe, to amaze, to impress. 

I would grab the world by the lapels and shake it.  

And now I am really


with a larder fully stocked 

with wisdom and pertinent experience. 

And now that I am ready, 

it seems that the treasure I assiduously cached, 

a penny at a time, in the mattress of life, has been the victim of inflation. 

It is a Cabbage Patch Doll after 1985. 

And if you’re not also


you don’t even know what that means, 

just like I don’t know what LMFAO means. 

I should probably look that up,

or stop using it.

There is little call for what I have accumulated 

and its value seems to diminish day by day. 

I wish I had read Shakespeare again when I was 


and heeded Rosalind’s words to Phoebe:

“Sell when you can, you are not for all markets.”

Now I’m 


and even the god-damned toothbrush

has turned against me.