Saturday, August 29, 2015

I Saw An Old Man Weeping Alone

I saw an old man weeping alone as he sat on a city bench.
His open sobs seemed even louder than the urban
din that enveloped us.
His tears were more torrential than a hundred summer storms.

A multitude scurried past him,
paying little if any attention,
let alone allowing the time to inquire as to what it was that saddened him so, or offer a gentle touch.

I did take notice but I didn't act,
steeped, mired, consumed as I was in
some myopic maelstrom of vain distractions.
My head was tilted down, my jacket collar turned up as if
to brave a blizzard.
And thus I moved past him, icy and brisk like a north Atlantic wind.

I came to the end of the block and something unseen compelled me to turn around.
When I did the bench was empty. The doleful man had been swallowed by the chaos of concrete and car horns.
I went on my way, tossing the image and sounds of him behind me as if they were handfuls of worthless coins.

I made my way to an amber lit tavern.
Once inside, I bathed luxuriously in oceans of Bushmill's
and rivers of Merlot, while the juke box kept me sweetly
sated with Nashville cliches and moldy oldies.

Yet above the clinking of ice, the drunken laughter,
at the bartender's jokes, the riffs of Chuck Berry and the twang
of Hank Sr., I could hear the old man's sobs as though from a distant vale.
They became faint words of admonition.
His remembered tears were now a message scrawled on
the bar with invisible ink.

What if, they wrote, there comes an hour when some chill pair of hands takes hold of me like a set of medieval shackles,
rendering me motionless and, as such, a victim to some onslaught of grief.

What will it be about or threaten to become?
The death of a lover, a terminal malady, the imminence of war or some epic upheaval?
Faith  elusive, abandoned, misplaced or betrayed?
Mirages once prized by a cocky, foolish boy esteemed and
exalted them years before to venerated plateaus, only to have them, in more wizened years, reveal the true nature of what they'd always been:
Paint by number portraits, sophistries cloaked in the
tongues of wisdom, salacious encounters disguised as love,
All as void of any true value as the ring in a crackerjack box!

And should the sundial signal that moment, will I take the place of the old man who sat on the bench so distraught and abandoned?
Will a blind, impervious, throng whirl around me as it had him?
Will I silently beg for comfort like Oliver Twist with my bowl in hand?
And should I look up, will you be the ones who keep walking,
uncaring, remote and awaiting your turn to weep?

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