Birthday Celebration

The room had a sour smell,
filled with canes, walkers
tv guides, checkerboard games,
and the people that accompany them
in a place like this.

He sat up tall, expectantly,
waiting for that age-old song
from the high-pitched warblers
hunched over the tinny piano
pulled out for occasions like this.

Balloons hovered overhead.
Candles dripped life-time moments
onto fondant flowers.
He patiently held a paper plate,
too thin for the thick slab he desired.

And so I asked the centenarian
for the secret of his longevity.
Well sonny, I always say,
close your eyes to dream.
Just make sure you open them wide
to watch where you step.


Posted for Tuesday Poetics at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets, where Walt asks us to write a celebratory poem or one that uses the word “celebrate.” This is actually one of my first poems, a character study, reworked for this prompt.

31 thoughts on “Birthday Celebration

    • lillian October 14, 2016 / 7:14 am

      Thanks! Glad you enjoyed 🙂


  1. sarahsouthwest October 12, 2016 / 11:18 am

    Poignant, somehow. And when you reach 100 you should be allowed as much cake as you like!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian October 14, 2016 / 7:15 am

      Exactly! I think this gentleman would be fun to talk with! I love that he sits up straight and wants a big slab of cake! 🙂


  2. mother wintermoon October 12, 2016 / 2:34 pm

    Pass the cake! A big slice for everyone and 100 wishes all around! Wise words. Watch where you step. Don’t I know it! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian October 14, 2016 / 7:16 am

      So glad you found the humor in this one. I’m certain this is a very special man and loved by many! Although he’s only in my imagination, I know there are others like him.


    • lillian October 14, 2016 / 7:17 am

      Well….I tried to make him proud and feisty…sitting up straight and with his answer. Glad you liked his advice 🙂


  3. Glenn Buttkus October 12, 2016 / 3:17 pm

    Nothing like a retirement home to smite the olfactory senses & tighten our grip on our own mortality; a lovely, sad, & wise write. OMG, 100 candles could incinerate the place!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian October 14, 2016 / 7:18 am

      yep….but this guy sits up straight and still is feisty in his own way! May we all be like him if we stick around on this earth that long.


    • lillian October 14, 2016 / 7:20 am

      Thank you, Victoria. I like to think this gentleman, and I do picture him as a gentle man, is still a bit feisty….wanting a big slab of cake, sitting up straight, and with the answer he gives. As my Aunt Flo used to say, “growing older is not for sissies.”


  4. Grace October 12, 2016 / 6:36 pm

    That is a milestone, wow ~ Wise words to guide us Lillian ~

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian October 14, 2016 / 7:20 am

      And there are people like him in this world….just think how much they’ve seen….how many changes they’ve lived through.


  5. Sanaa Rizvi October 12, 2016 / 6:53 pm

    Beautifully wise and profound write, Lillian ❤️ I am so overwhelmed with emotion after reading this poem. Kudos! ❤️

    Lots of love,


    • lillian October 14, 2016 / 7:21 am

      oooooh….always glad to hand out smiles! 🙂


  6. kim881 October 13, 2016 / 8:01 am

    A century is something to celebrate! I know that sour smell from Mum’s care home, but we can overlook(smell) that. I love the description of the balloons and candles, and the paper plate ‘too thin for the thick slab he desired’! And excellent advice!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian October 14, 2016 / 7:23 am

      Yes — very hard not to have that scent. Heck….we all have a scent, right? But yes — I’d hoped folks could find the joy here, the feistiness too. Glad you enjoyed.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Mish October 14, 2016 / 12:45 am

    Nothing makes me happier than to see elders in their final days still able to bestow wisdom upon us. They deserve so much dignity, compassion, respect and love.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian October 14, 2016 / 7:25 am

      Exactly! So very glad you caught the true tenor of this piece……he’s a feisty sort and one who still takes joy in getting the biggest piece of cake. We would be wise to listen more to our elderly.


      • Victoria C. Slotto October 14, 2016 / 2:05 pm

        Anyone who lives that long has to be a bit feisty. My Mom, whose 97th b-day is in a couple of weeks, was flipping the bird a couple of days ago, according to her caregiver. She didn’t want her shower. :0)


      • lillian October 16, 2016 / 9:03 am

        Oh how I would love to meet her! 🙂 My kind of lady!


      • lillian October 14, 2016 / 5:48 pm

        Can’t figure out how to reply to your follow-up reply about your mom being feisty — so will put it here. I’ve not met your mom — but oh how I would LOVE to! Yep — some days I don’t want to shower either 🙂 Hugs to her from Boston! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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