Seventeens By Maurice O’Sullivan


At seventeen, my world gleamed green
and I, a lad astute and keen,
believed that if I could persist
no bounds or limits would exist.

At thirty-four, I still could soar,
although, perhaps, on wings grown sore.
My world had proved a complex maze
of busy nights and hazy days.

By fifty-one, not yet quite done,
my dreams not ruined, my race not run,
I saw my body slowing down,
with far more grey and deeper frown.

Now sixty-eight, I still await
whatever tricks capricious fate
concocts to teach me not to test
if I am really cursed or blessed.

If I survive to eighty-five, 
still sound and glad to be alive,
I know how grateful I shall be
despite my aches and cobalt knee.

At 102, if not yet through,
though most I’ve known have said adieu,
will I rejoice or simply keen
about that lad at seventeen?

Maurice O’Sullivan, a former teamster, jail guard and pub owner, is an award-winning teacher, editor, columnist, and film maker who lives in Orlando, Florida. His most recent book, Have You Not Hard of Floryda, is a survey of 300 years of Florida’s colonial literature.


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