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  • By John Steele

No U-turns & Other Poetry

No U-turns

Growing old is bittersweet.

You thought you were immune.

How could you be a dead-end street?

Stressed about stuttering heartbeats,

joints and brain cells going askew,

growing old is bittersweet.

The young imagine life replete

with never-ending dreams come true.

They don’t believe it’s a dead-end street.

Your life is always incomplete,

always so much more to do.

Growing old is bittersweet—

before you know it you're obsolete,

the world’s spinning too fast for you.

There’s no denying you’re a one-way street.

The laws of nature can’t be beat.

No exceptions, even for you.

Growing old is bittersweet.

How can you be a dead-end street?

Magic Box

When Basho arrived back home, nothing remained.

Not even a trace of the herbs his mother had grown.

He barely recognized his brother’s face,

weathered, fringed in white, as was his own.

His brother, opening an amulet bag,

said, Look at our mother’s frosty locks.

You are like Urashima whose hair

turned white on opening a magic box.

A child again, though old in body, lost,

Basho wept, then wrote: Should I hold

them in my hand / they will disappear

in my warm tears / icy strings of frost.

John Whitney Steele is a psychologist, yoga teacher, assistant editor of Think: A Journal of Poetry, Fiction and Essays, and graduate of the MFA Poetry Program at Western Colorado University. His poems have appeared in numerous publications including Chained Muse and The New Lyre. His chapbook, The Stones Keep Watch, and his full length collection of poetry, Shiva’s Dance were published by Kelsay Books.


Evan Schmitt
Evan Schmitt
Apr 26, 2023

No U-Turns is a spectacular Villanelle! It really embodies the circular thinking that the form so lovingly perpetuates.


Apr 20, 2023

There is no doubt that these are good poems. But I am left troubled by the somewhat conventional wisdom of the first, and wishing there had been some sort of optimystic twist in the tail. And wishing that the haiku at the end of the second had followed the rules and had had the exact number of syllables ordained by convention. The first was too conventional. The second not conventional enough. (But these are perhaps minor quibbles.)

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