Exercises in Vanity – by Mauri Orr Stone

Monday, Wednesday, Friday:
One hundred crunches
In sets of twenty—
Varied, of course, to work out
My upper and lower abs
And obliques—
With five sets of ten push-ups between
Each set of abs.

Tuesday and Thursday:
At least 30 minutes of jogging or treadmill,
Or StairMaster or the elliptical machine,
Plus muscle-specific weights to keep me—
Well, not bulked up,
But at least warding off
Any embarrassing jiggle,
And somewhat firm of chest
And defined in my biceps and shoulders.

For a man “my age”
Most think I overdo it at the gym,
That it’s an obsession or
Really an exercise in vanity
To futilely fight the natural progression of aging.

What they don’t know
Is that I do it for you:
To provide you a living temple,
A stalwart shelter, your private sanctuary,
An edifice that will stand strong for many a year;
It will make everyone envious
That your lover is solid
And not “gone to pot.”

And I offer you this temple—
With its beating heart—
For what you will . . .


A middle-aged guy comfortable in his skin, Mauri Orr Stone lives in Louisiana, where, unexpectedly, his roots are growing even deeper.