badges of honour

as young’uns

scars are exciting

badges of honour

disclaimers of doing

adventure medals

to talk on when risk is done

then we see the old’uns

with knobbly hands

straining to open a jar of pickles

& we oblige

we listened when they told

of their escapades

the wars fought lost & won

though they shy

of sharing the pains

caused from their youthful forays

arthritis coldening in summer sun

biting flaring into cracked bones

when winter comes

& catch their heads shaking

was it worth it for this?

you don’t ever know

any street any town anywhere

that man there cleaning shop windows

wondering just how he’s going to cope

with two kids now she has run away

with the guy he used to call friend

& those two kids hand in hand at the bus stop

in long socks to hide the bruises momma gave

she can’t cope anymore her man don’t understand

& the guy there with the white face pained

by his ‘rhoids ache there in his ass

while the woman limps by her arthritis hot

past the one with MS disability nobody sees

that one got depression only lithium can ease

him there her there going about their long day

two jobs still not able to pay the back rent

we see the stoners giggling tryin’ to get high

not getting they be self-medicating to get by

the hiv+ person not wanting to tell us why

& all there every day any street anywhere

while all we see is other people we don’t care

don’t wanna understand nobody gets our pain

maybe 12 or 13

& for the first time

my body would not do

what I wanted

I had to try harder harder

the days of ease had gone

& now later

I remember those moments

with laughter

as my body now

will not do things I want it to either

& no extra exertion exercise

will make it so

the aches of age

once broken bones

hinting at arthritis to come

when winter twinges them

that strange sexuality

buzzing 24 hours more

a day

wanting wanting if never

quite sure what was needed

that too has eased to dull throb

no longer causing distress

to those around me

I was in such a rush

to get to maturity

& here it is the prize