OLD BUT NOT AN ELDER

I’m done phased out
There are only so many updates a hard drive can sustain
Before it’s time for a new model

It’s an odd feeling.
That it’s pretty much all behind me now
And that no one’s going to hire me

Despite my talents
With my age, my gender, my race, my desire to still contribute
Though it were charity to voluntarily yield my place

Get out of the way, voluntarily
Make room for new blood, young blood just starting out
Except I’m not feeling all that charitable

So it is mandated involuntarily
By the system, the machine, rage against the machine
And by the machine, we mean

That young HR professional
Snotnosed, snoot-nosed, or otherwise, who scans one’s Vita,
Or algorithm scanning keywords, number, gender, race

And I am sunk
It is deemed that it is all behind me now
I am old, but not an elder

It is deemed I am an archaism
Were my body’s accusation of age not sufficient for me to accept
With whatever grace or rage I can

And yet I keep going
Learn, study, write, compose, assimilate, with no eye to audition, application
No eye of future performance, career

But to pleasure myself
Onanist used to be the disdainful Biblical word for it all,
I once encountered in a poem by Walt Whitman

It is deemed the word is an archaism
A ghost of art past, haunting schools with rhyme, rhythm, meter, beats, feet
19th-Century poems, representational paintings, liturgical music

At my leisure
I learn, study, write poetry, compose music, pleasure myself
At my leisure and leisure is all I have now