By Stephen Mead

Beyond middle-age with gravity doing its natural thing,
note the eye bags, chins beginning to triple,
the chest & stomach convex enough about nipples,
belly-button, the evident sagging despite daily
one-hour walks, hopeful yoga, twenty-minute
exercise routines twice a week.
Yes, there is skin-softness yet 
& some peaches & cream pink
thanks to collagen-renewing lotion, 
fifty-strength sun-block, coconut conditioning
to retain enough of what others called twink
though perverse me in youth felt somehow insulted,
underestimated, patronized.
Then my edges were bony with sharp angles
making weapons of elbows, carved hips,
the countable ribs & vertebrae all & all
still not a body to feel quite safe in
or at home no matter what matter made.
Also the effeminate subtleties are as pronounced
in big lashes, eyes & full lips, something sensuous but not
toxic with masculinity enough despite the deepening voice,
stubborn chin stubble, the fingertips, palms
which gardening roughened a bit.
Portrait shadows really don't emphasize any of that,
only showing crease folds, more hints of bulges
& how even the thighs are starting to give.
Well what of it & who cares anyway
how often I was versatile as a top
while longing to be swept away, 
thrust into, carried off?
Either way flesh yielded pleasure
& for another which was best
so is to self-assess now either bravery or vanity
or anybody's guess?  Face it head on, age & what it does,
knowing so many who did not make it here
cut down by AIDS, addictions, hatred, abuse.
Suppose I bring them along also even now 
while on this mortal walk.
I am as the world is
whether time was ever for or against.

Stephen Mead is an Outsider multi-media artist and writer.  Since the 1990s he’s been grateful to many editors for publishing his work in print zines and eventually online.  He is also grateful to have managed to keep various day jobs for the Health Insurance. Currently he is resident artist/curator for The Chroma Museum, artistic renderings of LGBTQI historical figures, organizations and allies predominantly before Stonewall, The Chroma Museum In 2014 he began a website for his poetry that has been published online, Poetry on the Line, Stephen Mead