Sometimes Glad, Sometimes Sorry: Eighty-two-year Inventory

Ten hammertoes, one absent mind,
two weak legs, one eye blind,
two ears deafened, one dry mouth,
nine new teeth, height gone south,
pain in neck, double chin,
two hunched shoulders, withered skin,
one breast dented, swerving spine,
one hip jutting out of line,
clumsy brace and beat-up crutch,
bent-back knee – it’s all too much!


Knobby fingers, feeble hand,
not too steady – still I stand.
Thinning hair, memory dim,
no more driving– still I swim.


Lungs still clear, okay liver,
ride my scooter by the river.
Hudson fogs, sunset waters,
beloved brother, super daughters,
their good husbands, Mone and Josie,
dear live-in chef, steaks real rosy.
Two Mets, Whitney, MOMA, Frick,
the Y, the Neue – take your pick.
Brilliant bridges light the dark,
rowboats, Shakespeare, Central Park,
women’s groups, locked-up writers,
protest marches, freedom fighters,
voice gone hoarse – still I sing,
drink in jazz, eat everything,
mango sorbet, lots of rum,
steady heartbeat, peaceful tum,
good digestion, no more tumor,
don’t get jokes but sense of humor,
loyal friends, poems and stories –
not too bad, my inventories!


Author’s Comment: So many things were wrong with me, it was getting me down. So for my birthday I started listing them – always good to put your problems outside of you, in writing. Then I thought of rhyme and added the good things; the process became a delight. I felt so much better! I urge others to make inventories, whether in rhyme or not. Maybe it will  become a new genre.


A retired professor of literature, Bell Gale Chevigny has published widely on social and cultural themes. Her books include The Woman and the Myth: Margaret Fuller's Life and Writings, Chloe and Olivia (a novel) and Doing Time: 25 Years of Prison Writing, A PEN American Center Anthology.

11 thoughts on “Sometimes Glad, Sometimes Sorry: Eighty-two-year Inventory

  1. Brenda Bellinger

    Bell, thank you. I’ll be sharing your inspiring poem with my father who will be turning 89 in April. Perhaps it will refresh his perspective.

  2. Joanna Bressler

    Thank you, Bell Gale. I’m turning 82 in two months. It seems that every day adds a new problem. Everything you said rang true to me. Memory loss is the worst for me. Perhaps I’ll stop remembering that once I was sharp, acute, knowledgeable.
    Your poem is outstanding.

  3. Diana Walters

    I loved your poem. I work with older adults at an assisted living (and am “senior” myself at 71) and I try to inspire them to keep a sense of humor and keep living fully no matter what their challenges. I’ll read your poem to them.


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