[the Writing of Kuypers][JanetKuypers.com][Bio][Poems][Prose]


Scars 2000

An Admiral, A General, A high-ranking military official
when you get somewhere in the military, when you grease the right wheels, when you climb the corporate ladder, when you get as high as you can
when you make your graceful exit; when you’ve been adorned with pins and medals and badges of honor and you’ve got all your stripes on your sleeve
when you accomplish it all, and when you retire
well, then what?

the effects of age are getting to me
my vision is shot to hell. my contacts kill me and my glasses are so old they’re only half the strength of my prescription. so when I look at things I notice the blur more than I notice the detail.
my senses of taste and smell are shot to hell - I throw so much garlic on food for flavor that I offend my friends and family. and I can’t even smell when I smell, I mean, cologne is lost to me.
my one ear is closed most of the time and it feels like i’ve got water in my ear and it hurts for me to hear myself even breathe. damnit, I can’t even sing any more and do one of the things I actually like to do. I try to hear beautiful sounds but people are usually talking over it instead and all I can hear is their incessant bickering and whining.
and god damnit, I try to enjoy something every once in a while and something more irritating is usually in the way.
you know, i’d rely on writing, but for a while I couldn’t even do that. and what do you have then?
i can feel it in my left ankle, like I can’t carry weight like I could any longer, and my left knee keeps cracking and popping. and my sister says you know, you’ve got the ‘kuypers’ knees, and I guess the kuypers have bad knees. and I was always unaware of that.
the knuckle in my right thumb has been swollen for over a decade, and even the doctors can’t find anything wrong.
and whenever I write I grip the pen so tight that my fingers hurt and all I can feel is the ache in my joints.

and whenever I look down and see the scars on my body, I should be proud of some, and some would say that I should be proud of surviving some traumas and having the scars to prove it, but all I see are the scars and all I feel are the aches and pains
is this what scars do to you? or is it the memory of surviving the trials and getting the scars. is THIS what you have to show for everything you’ve done - are these your pins and military stripes you get after you accomplished your goal?
because what do you do when you’re retired - do people care about your medals of honor or do you earn so many that they just weigh you down?

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Chicago poet Janet Kuypers
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