Men of A Certain Age

Men of A Certain Age

A Poem by M.L McDonough

A project I handed in when I was 14. It was supposed to be a modern interpetation of Homer's Odyssey but...well...


Sing in me Muse, and through me tell the story

Of that man skilled in all ways of contending,

The wanderer, harried for years on end,

After he plundered the stronghold

On the proud height of Troy.


Change a few lines and you’ve got my adventure.

 “Sing in me Muse, and through me tell the story

To my poor, dear loyal wife,

Of how the man skilled in all ways of commending,

Wandered about New York,

Harried for weeks on end,

After he plundered the stronghold;

The proud height of Tory.”


Now before then, I had some troubles, but that’s the most troubling yet:

Let me please explain my cause for this new regret.

After my news work here in Manhattan was done,

I decided to stay a bit longer and have a bit of fun.

I found myself some old college buddies�"NYU, class of OH-FIVE’,

And we take on the city, dead or alive.


We get blown east to west and then north to south,

A thick layer of sweet alcohol coating our mouth.

My friends forget of home, and I must leave some behind,

For I may be out of sorts, but not out of my mind.


Later that night as I walk along with my group,

We find ourselves uncharted and run into a troop.

What type of troop you might question this be?

The type of troop that are big and bold and carry guns, you see.

The leader of this troop steps forward first,

“Hello I am pro-gunman Sir Gregory Durst.”

He was bigger than the others and on his signal, they fell back,

Disappearing into this constant night of deep ugly black.

Behind him we see a bar we truly hope to get din,

But from the looks of who seemed to be running the place, it was unlikely we’d get in.


He raised the gun to my friend’s face and said, “Give me your wallet.”

My friend cruelly grinned and said, “I ain’t got no whatcha-m’call-it!”

Oh Sir Gregory Durst did not like that, not one bit;

So he shot him in the face and knocked him down with one hit.

Then he turned to another friend who had let out a rowdy guffaw,

And used his Walther P99 pistol to lay down the law.


Then he grabs me! Poor lowly me!

Holds the gun to my head and shouts, “Let us be!”

My so-called friends run immediately away from the sight,

Gregory Durst’s grip on my arm is extremely tight.

With a flick of his wrist he flings me to the wall�"

Hold the gun under my chin and let’s out the call:

“You think you’re so rough and tough with your gang of cadets,

But I fire a gun and they run off in cold sweats!”

He laughed as he threw me into a dumpster nearby;

“I’ll leave you the rest of the night to sob and cry.
Tomorrow I shall be back, and you’d best stay here,

For I predict that either way, the end of your life is near.”

And with a final menacing chuckle he exited the scene,

Leaving me alone with my thoughts for the next four to eighteen.


And in these hours passing, I devised a clever scheme:

A scheme that for sure would simply me redeem.

I gathered some supplies and prepared for the morn;

A pipe, an empty bottle, and a paper bag to myself adorn.


When rosy-fingered dawn arose in the east,

I was ready to face that awful, mighty beast.

He opened the cover to the dumpster in which I was contained,

“Smart move,” said I calmly, “Now prepare to be brained.”

And with a bag over my head and two holes cut for my eyes,

I swung with that pipe, giving Durst a surprise.

He hollered stupidly to no one and I swung again,

A terrible shriek cut the city as he clasped his head in pain.


Blood dripped and rolled all about the alley street,

I swung one last time knocking him off his feet.

He prayed one last prayer and sighed one last sigh:

I was the one who caused great Durst to die!

And a queer thing happened, as they often do:

An outer body experience, I’d call it, as I could say to you.

I bent over to the man, removing my mask,

I spit in his face, and pulled out my flask:

That plastic water bottle I picked up last night?

Was now full of urine, “Durst’s Delight”.

Wickedly I grinned I fear, as I poured it on his face.

Then a few steps I took back, giving the corpse some space.


Moments later I was on my knee, at his side,

Digging around in his pockets to see what he had to hide.

I pulled out a cell phone, a lighter, a pen, a baby girl picture and some cigarettes,

Frowning at the picture I left it on the ground: this was no time for regrets.

I made a call on that cell phone; to one of my friends,

I needed them to get home, so I decided to make amends.

I stood outside the alley for a good hour or two:

The gang came running towards me�"it appeared to have grew.

And just before we left to continue our fun,

I put one last touch on that son of a gun:

I took my mask, wrote a few words and placed it over his face�"

‘Sir Gregory Durst, died in sweet grace.’


We climbed in Henry’s Hummer and drove off in mid-day,

We laughed and we joked as the radio loudly play.

However, the next few days were more frightful than most:

A waste of time really, and caused many a ghost.


We made our way down to old China town,

Got ourselves some speed from a dealer dressed like a clown.

We drove for several days and many nights, hooked up on that stuff.

But all plans failed us completely in a quick puff:

Puff being the smoke that rose when Julius started smoking�"

We got caught with drug possession because we were seriously choking.


Because the plate said NY we got sent back,

A week in jail and boy were we off track!

We made it all the way down to Connecticut hooked on that stuff�"

Our whole plan blew up because of just one puff!

So that was my lesson from my weekend on speed:

If you’re going to drug and drive, stay away from the weed! 


Several more adventures like this dotted our trip:

Adventures leading to the crack of dangers whip.

We got a bit too drunk, smashed up six cars more,

Hired a hooker who got us on LSD�"we attempted Parkour.

That didn’t work so well since twelve people died and one broke his neck,

But we tried it a second go, because, goddammit, what the heck!


And then the last think that hooker told us was to drop her off at “home”.

So there we went, to set her free to, as she pleased, blow and roam!

As she stepped out of the car, she gave us a nod,

“Be careful around here, these girls can be a bit odd.”

We gave her a queer look, but she turned away,

Henry spoke our minds, “Wasn’t that a bit off for a hooker to say?”

So they all plugged in their headphones as we drove down the street;

All but me, me, me, who was too poor to even really cover his feet.

Lucky for me I was strapped in shotgun side:

For the next few blocks were quite a dangerous ride.


Prostitutes dressed as Lady Liberty and Wonder Woman sounded their call,

The called to us men, “Come one and  come all!”

And oh their voices sweet as honey laid thick on mine ear,

But on deaf ear for the others, for they could not hear.

I squirmed and a called but it was all in vain;

The seatbelt I was tied in kept me at perfect restrain.


And then there was the Queen of that Liberties Gang Green�"

She took on six men at a time, if you know what I mean.

And take them she did, for six of my men climbed out

On their way to heaven, they believed surely, no doubt.

So I waited patiently while Henry navigated through Time Square;

The road was a disaster when we arrived there.

Eventually we parked at the Sunspot, the hottest place in town,

And the five men and me�"all that’s left�"head on down.

We order some drinks and have a bit of fun,

But alas, I would leave with men: none.


For the owner of the Sunspot, Mr. Heli Von Oshtenberg�"a popular man,

Was really quite displeased when we raided his van.

We took all his women�"the strippers for that night�"

And bought them some drinks and acted really tight.

Oshtenberg crowed and they went rushing to him,

Clinging to his arms like he wasn’t completely dim.

Then he pulled his rifle on us and lined us against the wall,

Alcoholics and hookers alike all fled the hall.


He kept us there for a few hours, just standing so still,

When finally, we realized he’s so fat: how could he kill?

But as we moved off the wall, he shot one by one

My friends�"my men�"heads popped off with a gun.

A blizzard of bullets you could probably call it,

But it was the blood drops that made it rain fit.


I barely escaped that God forsaken spot,

I hot-wired the car and pulled out of the lot.

I got lost in the bustle that was Times Square,

That all my men died and I lived hardly seemed fair.

Jumping out of the car I give up my futile quest,

At this point in the night, I only want rest.

I find a hotel and break into a room,

Think: this surely must be the end of my doom.



As you can see: I was an innocent man, simple at first,

But one trip to the city started my thirst.

And then, one sniff of the wine-dark sea of her hair,

And the grey-eyed goddess had me trapped there.

Her name is Tory, for all that couldn’t guess,

And she is the cause of my newfound depress.


We met at a coffee shop in upper west Queens,

Not intending to do so by any sort of means.

I ordered a decaf, she ordered some juice,

Said to the waitress the fruity taste of that liquid rendered her loose.

I smiled at her, she smiled at me,

We both headed towards the bathrooms, like we had to pee.


She tugged my hand before I opened the door,

And went down on her knees on that tile top floor.

But before you go and get any ideas, let me just say

She only wanted to tie my shoe for me�"this time, anyway.

But like I said, as I caught a whiff of that wine-dark sea,

The heterosexual male made a great rise in me.


The rest of that week I was lost in a haze,

Going through the motions of living, counting the days.

I wanted to go home, but I have a so-called job to do,

“Oh our journalist is home sick, let him go, boohoo!”

They said, “Get your job done O.D. Whittigens, please!”

I wished I could’ve fooled them with a half hearted sneeze.


But all was not lost for my sex-less, sick-less self,

For that grey-eyed goddess showed up again to help.

We met at a bar over in Brooklyn this time,

She had Corona with an orange; I had mine with a lime.

One drink turned into two and three and four,

Soon enough, I didn’t believe I had a son anymore.


Oh the night was alright, my wife is better I assure;

But I was far from home, and feeling a bit insecure.

I should’ve repented right after, gotten out of jail free,

But I lay with her each night, for she compelled me.


Did I just give up on my family and disappear without a trace?

I wish I could’ve but trust me; I needed to get out of that place.

She got so clingy, so self centered; all we did was talk�"

When she started buying me underwear, I guessed it was time to walk.

So I grabbed her keys from the counter and headed out the door:

Even if my wife didn’t take me back, this affair was no more.


I had remained in contact with my wife, my dearest Phoebe,

When I told her I was coming home, she was so pleased with me.

I was sick to my stomach: I had lied to her so,

Even for a man of my age, this was pretty low.

My son Markus, only seven years old,

Had started getting in fights for a cause not-so-bold:

The kids in his class said I was abandoning him and Phoebe,

Because over the past few weeks he told them how he hadn’t seen me.


He yelled and he cried and he screamed at those boys,

Shrieking curse words and making a whole lot of noise.

My wife thinks that I can straighten him out,

That she honestly believes in me, without a single doubt.

Oh God what have I done to deserve this tragedy?

Cheated on my wife? How can you rage at me?

Men of this age do it all time,

Even heroic men, who are older than I’m.

Take example Odysseus, who I now compare myself to:

His wife was grand, but it’s hard to remain true?


I was out working for six weeks, he for twenty years,

I guess that’s a different story altogether�"let me prepare for thy leers.

But maybe not, if you think of us now:

We both faced many a perils, and so many how!


Take into consideration now, both of our affairs:

Both women were obsessed with us while neither one of us cares.

Kalypso gives him a ship; Tory gives me a car…

They swear to always love us�"always from afar.


Then we get lost! Oh us men and our maps:

We drive around hopelessly, in desperate need of naps.

We suffer through a storm�"his of ocean, mine of snow:

I crash my car and desperately need a tow.

His boat is destroyed but Gods willing he finds himself ashore,

I am unlucky: should’ve checked the whether before.


I wander around this city of lights,

I scarcely remember ever poorer nights.

I collapse on the ground on a place I s’pose is safe:

I wake in the morning and find myself a Scaife.


A girl named Julia Scaife and friends are in the hot tub on their deck;

I lie half naked in the bushes, a complete and utter wreck.

Afraid to reveal my pale, shirtless bod,

I squat silently on this useless pile of sod.

They loaf around in bathing suits despite the winter weather,

The hot tub keeping them so warm they don’t even need to crowd together.


I shift my weight from one bent leg to the other,

I lose balance, the bush rustles, and the girls squeal, looking at one another.

Being brave I bring myself up into sight,

The six or so teenage girls all flee in a terrible fright.

All except for that one Julia Scaife:

She stands alone by the tub, a quivering waif.


I raise my hands in submission, and she gives me a smile�"

“Come inside, sir, please stay a while.”

I stare at her skeptically for a moment or two,

She walks to her door and opens it to let me through.

I say a bit nervously, “I’m not a scary guy, just so you know.”

She laughed and replied, “Neither am I, now in you go.”


She cleaned me up and gave me a shirt,

Rid my face of not just a frown but a whole ton of dirt!

Her parents come home and give me scrutinizing glares,

Mr. Scaife pulls out the shot gun and throws out some swears.

Widening my eyes, I try to calm him down�"

“I’m not even from here, I’m working in uptown.

I got lost and my car crashed and collapsed in your yard…

Your daughter helped me out�"I was terribly marred.”


Julia Scaife nodded eagerly at the finish of my tale;

Her father’s wrath-ridden red face slowly began to pale.

Pleased with this outcome, we all took a seat,

And nicely enough, they offered me free eat.

As we all ate Mrs. Scaife’s delicious Tarte flambée,

I told of the adventure that got me to their house that day.

I left out the part about cheating on my wife,

And mostly explained the “Great Storm of Strife”.

They took in the story with whole-hearted awe,

And punctuated it with a final group “Hurrah!”


With my story all told and done, they cut me a break:

They handed me some tickets which I feared would be fake:

Train tickets to Virginia, the glorious home of me!

Oh how good it would feel to be free!

They called me a cab and I was on my way,

On that train I slept a whole goddamn day!

And when I arrived in Virginia, I swear,

It felt like I had never even been there!


I took a bus back to what I thought was my street,

And surely enough, there was my family to meet!

But something was amiss, and I figured it out…

Many men were running my house all about!

People trying to court my wife?

I think so. Oh me, oh my, oh God, the strife!

She would never cheat on me, would she, could she?

This question group I asked my gardener Louie.

“Never sir, she’s been fending them off,” Said he.

Relieved I smiled, and requested some tea, when all of a sudden dastardly thought hit me.

These men had taken advantage of my house while I was away! How dare thee!


With my beloved slave gardener I devised a plan:

I will win her back in the only way I can!

Beat these men in some sort of foolish task,

And in the glory of winning will I forever bask!


I strutted inside with my head held high,

And my beloved wife Phoebe let out a sigh!

“Another suitor, oh Christ take a break!

I’ll choose my new husband after the wake!”

She didn’t recognize me? That foul w***e!

How dare she turn me out at my own front door?


Mad, I went on a rampage and killed most of the men,

They had called me vagabond, hobo, and common wren.

With the help of my slave gardener, cooker, and sweep,

I cause the suitors a great bit of weep.

Bullet by bullet bodies fall to the floor,

Phoebe remains locked in her room, avoiding the gore.


And then when all falls silent, she walks back out,

Seeing all the dead bodies she gives a bit of a shout,

“My husband would never kill so many people at once!

Gardener, arrest that foul mouthed dunce!”

But as he reaches for me I toss the gun to the cook,

“He made me do it, look, look, look!”

Phoebe looked down and smiled, as if she knew what I meant,

“Oh I knew you were you all along, my good gent!

Forget those silly slave people, come with me here instead!”

And I make my way up to the stairs to our bed�"

But a few questions still remain in the back of my head.

“Where is Markus, our dearest son?” “Spent.” Softly, she said.

“I cheated on you a bit.” I offered with a bitter tongue.

“It’s alright, you do this twice a year, remember?” She practically sung.

And in my room, I looked in the mirror and was startled to see:

I was not quite as young as I would think I would be!

My hairline receding, it’s color nearly gone.

What was I, forty? I let out a yawn.


And so from marvelous misadventure I learned this time,

That whether weak or poor or old or sweet sublime,

Or someone all in that way;

Like Odysseus or me, be may

There is fun to be had!

And can be found instantly in a man�"

Of a certain age.





Three or four decades pass and the pattern sifts on,

New narcotics arrive with each coming dawn;

Hydroxyzine, angel dust and the like�"

About halfway through those I’m admitted to a psych.

But I continue down the path of destruction and doom�"

Antiphetamines, PCP, were all found in my room.


It isn’t until the ripe old age of eighty-nine where I pause,

As I am forced to gaze up on the age old clause…

There appeared a white light in my recent lucid dream,

And towards it I walked as it glowed with great gleam.

My eyes already blinded by this infinite high,

I barely noticed that there, before me stood a guy.


This man, all dressed up so nice in his chocolate suit,

Looked positively bored as he interrupted my route.

His black-hole eyes stared right through me, void;

His face slightly reminiscent of ol’ Sigmund Freud.


His voice boomed down this tunnel and I tried not to shake,

“Don’t worry my son, you’re wife’s already preparing the wake.”

I stared back at him without a fear in mine eye�"

“Who are you to tell me that it is my time to die?”

And it was to this he gave a sort of sarcastic smirk:

“Why it is only me, your friend Death, but you may call me Kirk.”


It was then that I noticed the bag slung over his back;

A thousand faces pressed against its inside, attempting to escape the sack.

Their mouths opened and closed as if they struggled for breath

Which is a silly thing really, as if you need air in Death.


As I prepared to beg and plead for my soul,

A funny thing happened: the bells started to toll.

I watched as his paper hand rose up to the sky,

And it was then that I began to whisper a solemn goodbye.

As his fist began to clench I felt my heart begin to shrink,

His hand was crushing my soul, and he didn’t even blink.


Oh no those pitiful black eyes just stared on t me,

Though with no retinas at all I doubted he could see.

I watched my soul get drawn out across the distance between us,

It’s bright blueness running gold as I let out a violent cuss;

“F**k you Death you useless sack of waste…

Too bad for you, true life will never be your taste.”


That was what was supposed to be my last dying heave,

But a funny thing happened, as what was left began to leave.

That old man Death simply stopped dead in his tracks…

I could see from my lines his façade had gone through suffered some cracks.

A little bit at a time he weaned my soul on in…

And as he opened his mouth, I was forced to stifle a grin.

“By that, what do you mean, Mr. Whittigens?” came the question

“Well it seems to me you have never and never will have your taste of sin.”


His gaping eyes gaped at me for a long moment, blind

It was as if he was hoping he could see through my mind

To this game I was playing to by me more time…

But oh no, I was just that selfish a type�"

I took pride in my sin, I would never gripe.

No, despite all the drugs and alcohol and mess,

I had a good life, I am forced to confess.


And in all sad and solemn truth,

I sort of pitied Death, who didn’t know of youth…

Besides those he had taken from that stage in their life,

What did Death know of sin, love, loss, and strife?

Where could he have experienced these earthly things?

Nowhere, as long as he wore those curséd black wings.


And it was from there that the idea was sprung�"

The idea that would keep my head from being hung.

“Death, do you ever get sick of your job?”

“Why would you even ask that you tactless toothless slob.”


I smiled at him and he stared back un-amused;

And I knew right then that he was to be rused.

“What if we traded spots for a good lifetime or two…

what if Kirk became O.D., and O.D. became you?”

He gave me a skeptical look but I knew I could sell.

“Trust me, life’s even more of a party then hell.

You’ve got prostitutes without their withered souls,

Drug dealers crawling out from all sorts of holes�"

They help you indulge your fantasies one shot at a time…

Trust me, sinning on that Earth is far from a crime;

If it were, the place would be nothing but a jail.”

It was that last line that should’ve caused the plan to fail:

As all humans know and learn as they are risen…

Our world is nothing more than a mere massive prison.

But Death, being so enamored with the idea of sin,

Responded to O.D. only with a dark grin.


Soul separated from body quite easily then,

Dark and white clashed and separated again.

O.D. found himself in a whole new ghastly form,

And Kirk was beginning to see into the norm.


O.D. and Kirk went their own separate ways,

Kirk fucked O.D.’s wife for the rest of his days.

But O.D. did not have the slightest a-care:

Oh no, now he was Death, and controlled the who and where.

His only regret was that he had to give up drugs.

But who really cared when he was pulling all the plugs?

So you see kids, the moral of this dangerous story lives

With Death in his house of a thousand dirty prostitutes who has now enslaved because he is a bad person. Oops.


I don’t know. Goodnight.



© 2012 M.L McDonough

Author's Note

M.L McDonough
I wrote this freshmen year of high school and haven't edited it. So, there you go.

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Added on December 28, 2012
Last Updated on December 28, 2012
Tags: homer, odyssey, greek myth, ridiculous, poem


M.L McDonough
M.L McDonough

Near Boston, MA

High school student from Massachusetts who has been writing for years, but really needs to get her stuff out there if she ever wants to do anything with it. more..