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Stains Of The Third Age

This song is by Jack Howard and appears on the EP Songs for Longing: The Poems of Dawson Hann (2015).

They're tiny humiliations, out of the blue;
Spills mostly, shapeless, but maps all the same
To track a hand less steady, a mind less tame;
From these you avert the eyes, in these you

Sense the discomfort of others, those who
Probably think you're letting yourself go,
Not to be taking more care, not to know
Why stains of age must be kept from public view,

Being, as they are, unedifying, to say the least.
They're like the dribbles of a child, but less
Tolerable; newness excuses a child's mess;
These nuisances should long ago have ceased.

You will be spoken to about this as "a new phase":
Best accept and manage, you're told, each tell-tale sign,
Of renegade tomato, the tear-drop speck of wine,
That dumbfounding streak of mayonnaise.

But they're wrong, you see; we are from youth
Shamed by stains. From pyjamas soiled in sleep,
To darker, insidious marks which creep
Even now, from deep within, to proclaim their truth:

This is what you are, a vessel of leaking parts,
So deal with them, the rank and rancid spillages
Emblazoned on shirts and pants, daily pillagers
Of a prim respectability once confidently the heart's;

Instead, read like tea leaves what stains might mean.
They are life coming to the surface, old lacerations
Seeping through, authentic ruptures, not aberrations;
A patch-work of the years accrued, demanding to be seen.

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