My son’s thirtieth birthday.

His mother turns sixty next week,

and her mother, eighty,

is coming to celebrate the dawn

of the decades with us, them,

me, and my other son who turns

twenty-seven in April close

to his brother’s conception date.

Numbers, accounts, descendants,

family. Our DNA marches on.


Dylan told us not to trust

anyone over thirty, so why have we

listened to him for the past

forty years? My old neighbor

told me everyone over forty votes

Republican, but a decade later

he discovered his Butte grandfather

ran guns for the IRA. Today


The newspaper is looking for stories

about the infamous Grateful Dead

concert here forty years ago

where according to many sources,

“nobody liked the show.” Sure,


I was stoned, and what do I know

sitting in the field house nosebleed

seats grinding my teeth, and riding

the waves of adjusted perception,

Jerry’s blues tiddly-rumpling

in front of that “wall of sound,”

a mellow rock and cocaine roll—

three and a half hours of tonal flow?


As the legend goes, on the anniversary

of that show, somebody threw a plastic

pitcher, hit Bob Weir in the head, and

The Dead walked off the stage.


Up in the rafters for hours on end,

when they walked off from the encore,

I figured they were all in, most likely

as tired as me. After all, I wasn’t

quite twenty, and they were close to

being as “untrustworthy” as Dylan.


“Disappointed” some said described

the show, but I guess I was too high

up in the bleachers riding the flow

of music that just rolled and rocked

on and on, then played and played

and played some more. I figured

I’d gotten more than my money’s worth.


It was the Grateful Dead for

fuck’s sake! That was just a decade

before my son was born

which was another drama that went on

three times longer than I figured

it would, culminating in a life

change, fatherhood, something else

I knew nothing about going in.


Let’s face it, we’re along for the ride

and grateful to be here, I imagine

even if we’re Bob Weir. I know

I’m thankful for this gathering

in the guise of numbers, decades,

anniversaries, Earth spins around

the sun, another one for the books,

the records, and those beyond

keeping track of it, all that

silly shit we do to count coup

on the old wolf, father time.


Mark Gibbons

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