Old Man's Afternoon
by David Zieroth

"...Beyond the hangdog lives
___Of old men..."
__--James Wright, "A Breath of Air"

A mid-day so bad
I want to sleep--what can I expect
except for a bill to show up?
Let me close my eyes
pass over the empty hour and into
the life I might have led:

I would be a man to make gadgets
and fix broken parts
brought to him for mending
because his eyes find
how to turn the screw correctly in
so the housewife waiting
in his doorway can go home
with her toaster and carry on
--now they smile, take and receive
odd objects, touch hands

Instead, I gawk on my street
want to help out
too much, to force back
the dead time: lunch over
and only a hollow, small hobby
calling so I am tempted
to pull up my feet
crumple down
on the parquet, flying off
no one knows where just yet

though some women may note
a whuff or whistle as I cross
the light streaming into their windows
hands rubbing the old bits
they carry around, the bottles
and bric-a-brac, the picture frames
they can't let go, still hoping
someone useful comes


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