To Tamzen On Her Fortieth Birthday

                Undoubtedly you'll get this
crap from others: Life begins @ 40're not getting older you're
getting better - yeah all the Hallmark cliches showering down
                to spice the big day up.

                Right! Uh huh. (I hear
your edged voice) The heart at any rate

is not as clever as the cards; it knows itself
                moment by moment
love and in hate

is not as clever as the cards; it knows itself
                moment by moment
love and in hate

and in loneliness, despair, and joy. . .
so often also in that ravaging war within itself.

                Your blood plunges on to
its own beat, mocking time to let you taste a memory
more real than now, the memory of a child.

And I alone among your friends can speak to you, that little girl,
                about your Father's world, for
I have breathed                 the air of those same places,
like Kimpo Air Base                                 where
he must have touched down at the least,

                and where I stood in rain
that iced the brilliant spotlights to hear a shivering, incomprehensible Scot read
                my name from a list containing
many who would die.

                And I am twenty and could be
dead soon and am                 totally unafraid. I have money
for women and booze and yet, too, I want to get to Tokyo to stay alone in a hotel
that Frank Lloyd Wright designed, earthquake-proof,

floating on a sea of mud - and just to say I stayed there.
I love that wild and shy and scholarly young man
                both for his sins and his sweet
intents. And I embrace him as you must embrace yourself today.

I am twenty then,half your years,and if
                in the midst of a magic space
we meet, both at that age,and touch fingertips
to fingertips and stare

into each other's eyes,perhaps that selfsame magic
can extract some pain from the ensuing years

          and even bring your Daddy back to you
borne up by love on some pure sea of vision.

          I know. I know. Images crazy and fanciful. Get
real,           Frank! I invent your voice again. It stops me,
for           what it really says is never give your heart away.
          But it changes nothing. Our voices change nothing.

What sustains us is our power to love and nothing else.
Only that will take that grudge you cannot purge
from out your heart,those wry

Then will you float
lovely as you are
upon your life,
but not before.
When you are still
and know.

Then will you float
lovely as you are
upon your life,
but not before.
When you are still
and know.



PEEK is the website of Paul Ford and his pseudonyms. It is showing its age. I'm rewriting the code but it's taking some time.


There is a Facebook group.


You will regret following me on Twitter here.


Enter your email address:

A TinyLetter Email Newsletter

About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.

If you have any questions for me, I am very accessible by email. You can email me at and ask me things and I will try to answer. Especially if you want to clarify something or write something critical. I am glad to clarify things so that you can disagree more effectively.


Syndicate: RSS1.0, RSS2.0
Links: RSS1.0, RSS2.0


© 1974-2011 Paul Ford


@20, by Paul Ford. Not any kind of eulogy, thanks. And no header image, either. (October 15)

Recent Offsite Work: Code and Prose. As a hobby I write. (January 14)

Rotary Dial. (August 21)

10 Timeframes. (June 20)

Facebook and Instagram: When Your Favorite App Sells Out. (April 10)

Why I Am Leaving the People of the Red Valley. (April 7)

Welcome to the Company. (September 21)

“Facebook and the Epiphanator: An End to Endings?”. Forgot to tell you about this. (July 20)

“The Age of Mechanical Reproduction”. An essay for (July 11)

Woods+. People call me a lot and say: What is this new thing? You're a nerd. Explain it immediately. (July 10)

Reading Tonight. Reading! (May 25)

Recorded Entertainment #2, by Paul Ford. (May 18)

Recorded Entertainment #1, by Paul Ford. (May 17)

Nanolaw with Daughter. Why privacy mattered. (May 16)

0h30m w/Photoshop, by Paul Ford. It's immediately clear to me now that I'm writing again that I need to come up with some new forms in order to have fun here—so that I can get a rhythm and know what I'm doing. One thing that works for me are time limits; pencils up, pencils down. So: Fridays, write for 30 minutes; edit for 20 minutes max; and go whip up some images if necessary, like the big crappy hand below that's all meaningful and evocative because it's retro and zoomed-in. Post it, and leave it alone. Can I do that every Friday? Yes! Will I? Maybe! But I crave that simple continuity. For today, for absolutely no reason other than that it came unbidden into my brain, the subject will be Photoshop. (Do we have a process? We have a process. It is 11:39 and...) (May 13)

That Shaggy Feeling. Soon, orphans. (May 12)

Antilunchism, by Paul Ford. Snack trams. (May 11)

Tickler File Forever, by Paul Ford. I'll have no one to blame but future me. (May 10)

Time's Inverted Index, by Paul Ford. (1) When robots write history we can get in trouble with our past selves. (2) Search-generated, "false" chrestomathies and the historical fallacy. (May 9)

Bantha Tracks. (May 5)

Tables of Contents