Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Cling to a thing that you call your own,
Capture the flag without delay,
Bite into life like a pug chomps bone.
Buff up a shine on your résumé,
Star in the press and the evening news,
Sock away cash in your IRA,
Rack up the chits and the IOUs.
Glom onto mentors who help you out,
Grab hold of more than the lion’s share,
Dazzle co-workers you put to rout,
Settle your buns in the highest chair.
Go for a laugh and the easy lay,
Follow the rules that you make yourself,
Do what you want, though there’s hell to pay,
Leave all regret on a dusty shelf.
But never forget, whether straight or gay,
Coming old age has a heart of stone.
Set aside love for another day,
Die with full pockets and all alone.
Jolly good fellows and Facebook pals
Find other interests and drift away.
Listen to me, all you guys and gals,
Gather ye rosebuds while ye may.
Will Out West
(to the rhymes of Shakespeare’s Sonnet XXIX)
I saw the lust for murder in his eyes
As he glared across the table in a state
Of deep intoxication, while the cries
Of whooping cowboys jeered him onward. Fate
Had led us to this barroom. Any hope
Of life lay in the sidearm I possessed,
And all my future lay within the scope
Of a poker table’s span. I thought, “At least
I haven’t drunk as much as he.” Despising
My well-earned name as top gun in the state,
He spat and pushed the table back, arising
To meet a slug, then left for heaven’s gate
Or hell’s, more likely. Now remembrance brings
Only a glass of rot-gut and two kings.
Reagan Upshaw is a poet and critic whose writing has appeared in Poets & Writers, the San Francisco Chronicle, Able Muse, and many other publications.