Herbert Nehrlich

(04 October 1943 / Germany)

....and many happy returns


He had just celebrated,
with kindred friends and spirits
his seventieth.
The guests now gone
and one could hear
the squeaking of his rocking chair
accompanied by birds,
who, in the tropics, sing at night
as well, it set the stage
for melancholy reminiscence
about the crossroads he had reached
where spectators just stood,
observing him with friendly faces
and the benevolence of man.

The specialist had said 'you will be fine',
though using neutral words to intimate
that things were in control,
that modern medicine would win
with weapons like FU, his special chemo.
There was a climate that surrounded
and pampered him, as if to say
'because we like you, Jim, you'll be okay.'


And so, there was no need to fret,
to get some order into his affairs.
He looked again at the physician's card,
with HAPPY BIRTHDAY in fluorescent letters.
He read the text again, but searched,
in vain for what was old tradition:
Returns, the many happy ones!
It was not there, perhaps an oversight?

A shadow crossed his tired face
when from within a voice sang out,
it told him what he knew to be
the truth, that this would be his very last.

Submitted: Sunday, February 26, 2006

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Comments about this poem (....and many happy returns by Herbert Nehrlich )

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  • Ruby Honeytip (10/29/2012 11:37:00 PM)

    Sad and melancholy acceptance of the inevitable. You are a great storyteller Mr Nehrlich. (Report) Reply

  • Janice M Pickett (3/25/2009 2:37:00 PM)

    Love this dear friend. Just came back on here and had to check out what you have been up to since I was last here in 2007. Great tale told as usual.10 Plus for you. *hug* (Report) Reply

  • Tom J. Mariani (12/10/2007 8:01:00 AM)

    You take the reader gently into the recognition of mortality. I like your use of the extended metaphor of his 70th birthday and the recognition at the end that there will not be '...many happy returns'
    Tom (Report) Reply

  • K K (3/6/2007 7:35:00 AM)

    Mortality is very real but sometimes we forget. Nice reminder

    KK (Report) Reply

  • Kee Thampi (3/6/2006 3:44:00 AM)

    A shadow crossed his tired face
    when from within a voice sang out,
    it makes a feel to.............. (Report) Reply

  • Gina Onyemaechi (3/1/2006 2:41:00 AM)

    I don't know Jim, Herbert, but I care about him and feel for him as much as his other friends. Saddening poem reminding us all of our inevitable final destination. Warm regards, Gina. (Report) Reply

  • Allan James Saywell (2/26/2006 9:59:00 PM)

    i see you are still open for comment herbert which is good it shows your not afraid of the low mentality one givers, and you remain open to fair and just critique
    from your associates a fine piece herbert worthy of a high mark

    Warm regards allan (Report) Reply

  • kskdnj sajn (2/26/2006 9:31:00 PM)

    An excellent piece of moral delima and humanity Herbert.
    Well done capturing the reader and reminding us of our mortality. (Report) Reply

Read all 11 comments »

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