James Dempsey


The Four Ages of Man, or, Morning Stiffy

Every morning it was there,
Blooming in his pubic hair,
Glistening like a dewy rose
And standing proud as Punch’s nose.
The boy would have to self-abuse
To cause the passion to diffuse,
But this was just a short-term fix;
He soon was, once more, hard as bricks.

When, mercifully, passing years
Filled him with an adult’s fears,
Then shoved him into middle age,
He entered a more tranquil stage.
Now twice divorced, he’d rise alone
Each day with less testosterone.
He watched sports channels on TV
And bought himself an MGB.
The wives who once his stiffness sought
Now stiffed him for more child support.

In old age everything went wrong
And stiffness once again was strong—
Arthritis, gout, and kidney stones,
An aching back, and brittle bones.
The morning stiffness now had fled
Its first home and was lodged instead
Everywhere else, from toes to head.

And now he lies upon his bed
Unwaking, still, as dead as dead
Can be. Now he has fought life’s bout
And all his soul has dribbled out
And gone wherever souls go when
The body stiffens, loosens, then
Launches the stink of death’s decay
Toward the nose of God aloft,
Who makes soft hard and makes hard soft,
Whose gift to men of sweet tumescence
Always ends in sour putrescence.