350 in dog years

I entered the world like a trickster

Coaxed by the smell of barbeque

But the Jewess princess was

Drugged and passed out

By the time I arrived

Into Cold male hands and

Even colder light


At five I nearly barfed

At Kiddie Land

The “fun” fire truck

An overwhelming howl


Ten brought Slimy wood

And barred breath

Trapped under a dock

Sunlight like candy behind

Nose-pressed glass

As men neared the moon


Fourteen was a birthday

To witness death

Gita screaming in agony

Trying to throw herself on the

Lowering casket when a

Man said, “God has his reasons”

I turned to Sartre and Nietzsche

And embraced them heart and soul


Eighteen brought gifts rated


Born to run

From an unrequited childhood


While twenty was a

Launching cork sailing

Into a velvet Roman night

Through open shutters


Twenty-six lay pinned and wriggling

Between hospital heart in February

And falling in love on Bastille Day

Mysterious tintype

Shower of rose petals


At thirty we toiled happily in the garden

Readying it for our wedding party in the fall

All getting dizzy in the bathhouse

From paint fumes as my cousin Hannah

Explained the care of her privates

Now that she was no longer Bruce


At forty I walked into a lovely trap

In that same garden that meant

So much to Andy and then to me

A party smiling with moments

Gathered and then scattered


Years blur and blend


There was a midnight sun that never quite

Set upon that tractor on the Finnish tundra


There was glimmering Irish light

And swooping bats


There was that religious fellow

Tying leather on my arm

On Rue de Rosiers


There was dancing naked on a leafy

Terrace in a Paris downpour


There were walks to the candy store

And across the covered bridge

The hands of my children growing

In my softening grasp


There was finishing a book

In glimmering morning light

As forty-eight alighted upon

My laptop


And this year of blogging mindfully as a 49er

Cheering the Lakers all the way

Through game seven as the sun set on my forties


And in the lead-up to 50

I must admit that there have been

Dark nights of the soul when

Literally I thought I might not

Make it, still haunted by mother’s

Story of losing her dad at fourteen

When he was not yet fifty


Neurotic dread making it impossible

For me to watch House

Without thinking I have every ailment


Carrying mother’s hauntedness

Like a market bag of things

I did not want and yet paid for

Nonetheless, tracings of

Gypsies dripping wax


Fifty is a blank I have yet to fill


Will I fill it like those “husky” sized

Jeans my sad plump self could never



Will I fill it like Jimmy Stewart

Tearfully realizing my Wonderful Life?


Will I fill it with the writing that has been

Pounding on the crumbling castle door

Full of portent, pretense and manure?

(Yet redolent of the fundament)


Shall I go to that expensive Italian restaurant?

Someplace local that I have never been?

A place that everyone will like, I hope.


Shall we dare to eat pasta and drink wine

and feel our bellies against our waistbands

and drop languidly into sleep?


Can I open the special delivery of “I don’t know”

And realize that this is not a joke but a gift of

Dazzling and luminescent generosity,

A potential space into which we might invite

That same alluring and enlivening murky mystery

That every temple, theater, boudoir and leafy grove

Has ever and eternally hoped to conjure?


At fifty I do not wish for gifts, or for a fuss, but I do wish to celebrate the gift of love and life.  And while I’ve seen my birthday come and go in all sorts of places, I now realize that I am connected with all sorts of places through everyone—including readers and fellow bloggers who have become a newly discovered, and treasured, firmament in our interconnected and awakening lives—like stars appearing as night fog lifts.

While I am a father, a psychologist, a husband and friend (and I love being all those things), in my soul I am also a wild man in a cave, painting the same eternal image over millennia.  I am a shaman climbing the world tree, a necklace of insects suspended in amber around my sun-cooked neck, a kitchen alchemist simmering dragons and communing with beetles, lizards and birds.  And so are you.

My wish is to make (or be made by) some unimagined and egoless non-art, to unlock my self and place it more sincerely in the service of the deeper Self, making soul and being neither special nor insignificant, only daring to sing my song and add it to the Om of the group with all its teeming world-song.

My truth is that I love the world and that I love you.  Of course I wish to be truly understood, but I shall try to better understand our shared dream and attend to its pulsing perfection, and in this way perhaps we can all fall in love with each other and with the sublime myriad oneness in which we are agonizingly and ecstatically empuzzled—ever in the service of our world in its widest sense and all its collective children.

Namaste, Bruce


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12 Responses to “350 in dog years”

  1. Kristen @ Motherese Says:

    Reading while about to run out the door for a weekend away, but had to stop and sit long enough to say, Bravo! And, Thank you! And, To 50!


  2. BigLittleWolf Says:

    Your rich free verse was a quick journey through some of the moments you’ve shared with us. I smiled at your mention of House. I adore the show, but cannot always watch it, convinced I feel the same symptoms of the latest mystery patient.

    Meanwhile, I’m more at ease with other sorts of mysteries. Including the synchronicity of words that reach across thousands of miles and generations, and offer a moment of enjoyment or enlightenment.

    Happy birthday, Bruce.

  3. Katrina Kenison Says:

    A very happy birthday to our bard of the soul. How fitting and how wonderful that on your 50th, YOU are the one offering the gift to the rest of us–the gift of yourself and your free-wheeling reflections, the gift of generosity of spirit and hope for our (to use your word!) collective future. Savor every bite at the Italian restaurant. Skip House. Read Rumi. Seize the day!

    • privilegeofparenting Says:

      Thanks for that, Katrina—your kind words moved and elevated me as I read them (“bard of the soul”… I don’t know if I qualify, but it’s awfully sweet for you to even suggest it). BTW, got a collection of Rumi from my dear sister-in-law and opened randomly to “Wings of Desire.”

      Here’s to seizing every day (as you so eloquently inspire us to do).

  4. krk Says:

    Happy birthday to the shaman of “the circle” Thank you for the love and right
    back to you.

  5. Beth K Says:

    Happy 50th, Bruce! Mazel tov.
    Your birthday poem was very moving.

  6. margaret Says:

    Bruce, you are a poet! Namaste, Margaret

    • privilegeofparenting Says:

      And if that’s so, it’s taken until fifty for me to even begin to know it—so thank you for this affirmation of soul and spirit, which I only wish to return in kind to you. Namaste Absolutely, BD

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