Magpie Poem Two—”Manhood”

If I want
    I can be two or three different men
If I want
    I can go too fast on the freeway
If I want
    I can stay awake ‘till two or so
I thought about you and me
while listening to Muddy Waters
sing about being way past 21;
he’d sing “I have lots of fun”
and at first I thought

That being a man is just that—
    knowing how to have fun like a
        mechanic tuning an ailing Honda Civic
        or maybe
        a programmer reading up on Object Oriented methods…
A technician to life, to living,
an engineer who oversees the
    Bureau of Pleasure
    the Ministry of Irony
    and the Directorate of the Beat.

Party boys, of course, are in their twenties,
party girls, too—
    everyone reaches thirty eventually and
I guess——I guess
that those who don’t burn out
who find context and meaning
who sear and fixate on
    four beats or maybe
    a mixed drink or maybe just
    a joke about Jerry Springer over dinner
those who survive midnight with something,
something left to stay awake for
besides the manic furor of youth—
all of those men, or people
—I hope I’m one of them—
pass on into the intimate,
    the breath of a bedroom
    the sweet smell of sweat on a pillow…

Someone you’d always have a party with
and maybe a kind of being in love is like that:
“yeah, I’d go to a party with that person;”
friends and lovers unfurl the hours
    between our notes of being
    the pause between the words
    the pause between the notes that play
    harmony to our dance with death…

All that then, my love
Represents         M
then                    A
then                    N
no                      BOY

And as for you and me, individually
beyond the rush of time, beyond the
    abstractions like dust on a lampshade
at the level of pillows, showers, dinners, couches
    the sites of all
    my tomorrow’s parties;

My love, I can be any kind of reveler
    you feel like today—
I’m three or four different men, after all
and if I want I can remember how to be
any one of them…

…ain’t that a man?