At 80

by Peter Serchuk

It’s a good day for pancakes
although I have to watch
the syrup.  I have to watch
the sugar and the salt,
the caffeine and the meat.
I have to watch the forest
in my ears and the fish
scales on my feet.  I have
to watch the hummingbirds,
the roses and my faithful
jacaranda.  I have to pay attention
to what arrives and disappears.

On this side of the line,
everything’s worth more or less.
Money’s worth more, pride less.
Legs are worth more, mouths less.
Grace is worth more, heaven less.
Days are worth more, nights less.
Thirst is worth more, hunger less.

Some days I wonder what became
of my other heart, not this one
the pacemaker chases but the other,
the prisoner I guarded too closely.
I don’t miss it most days,
not like I miss steak and gin.
Only some days, when I remember
the sweat and the fevers instead
of the ground romancing my heels—
when I remember the wild steps
and promises then catch myself
napping, bored between meals.

Peter Serchuk’s poems have appeared in a variety of journals including Boulevard, Poetry, Denver Quarterly, North American Review, Nimrod, South Carolina Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review and others. His work has also appeared on Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac. He is the author of two poetry collections: “Waiting for Poppa at the Smithtown Diner,” (University of Illinois Press) and most recently, “All That Remains,” (WordTech Editions 2012). He lives in Los Angeles. More at