As I strode down the street
I was suddenly struck as
the streetlight caught the
wrinkled figure of an old man
For a split second
I thought he was my father
but this man’s uncombed
black grey curls
were much too long
Daddy never let his hair
reach his collar
The old man’s face was charred
his wrinkles deeply carved
while shadows of whiskers
flooded his dreary face
and a cigarette clung carelessly
to dry cracked lips
His tattered hat lay on the street
next to his crumpled form
His mismatched clothes were loose
and from the pocket of
his huge dark overcoat
between gloomy grey creases
a bottle peeked
He caught my heavy stare
his expression dark and brooding
It seemed an eternity
as my eyes searched his
for some suspicious sign
Then a tinkle of coins
interrupted our thoughts
as a passerby threw him
some spare change
He nodded his aged head
looking up at me one last time
before he finally lowered it again
just the way daddy did
when I was bothering him



17 Responses to nobody’s old man

  1. Jeff YIWrite says:

    Time catches up . . . extracts its unpaid dues. Justice done?

    This is a powerfully expressive piece. I suspect you reached way down to find it.


  2. Anonymous says:

    Wow, Shelley — many feelings embedded in this piece.  I’m stuck most by how we always carry certain memories and these feel wounded or borderline wounded…  If this Daddy had fully turned his gaze to you, would you have sat down with him?  Could one full moment of attention had turned into a hot meal?  Perhaps a shower?  Maybe an entire turning point?   Questions…. so many questions….

  3. Anonymous says:

    beautiful capture of this man…love all the details as they bring him to life…and your underlying feeling as well from the thought it might be your father and looking for the twinkle…nice…

  4. K-a says:

    great detail, and a mysterious quality, with the overlaying of identities, until you bring the man right into the personal frame, nodding & looking just same as your father had: this man is someone’s father..

  5. Natasha Head says:

    A fantastic capture of a moment…the type that wake and rouse memories and what ifs. Fell into the scene, and into his story…my mind is weaving the why’s as I type. A wonderful write! So happy you were able to share with us!

  6. Pat Hatt says:

    Detailed down to a tee and a great verse to boot, you really captured the scene wonderfully.

  7. ayala zarf says:

    Excellent capture!

  8. so descriptive. love this. this conjures up instances where I would stumble across strangers that would resemble  my estranged (now deceased) father. i guess this tells a lot more about the character, which i wholly identify with in this piece, than the actual homeless man. He isn’t just a “nobody” but once a “somebody”. Thank you for this. 🙂

  9. Kamana says:

    i could picture this scene as i read your words

  10. claudia says:

    oh’re leaving us here with an open end…the familiar in the unfamiliar and the it can’t be possible against the things that might be unable to made me see him and searching the lines of his face..

  11. hedge witch says:

    Commonality, and that human moment, well drawn here, and not overdrawn on an easy topic to demagogue. Liked the understatement and simple language of clarity with which you underline the bald facts of the human condition.

  12. kerry shepherd says:

    loved the imagery here great description of a sorry soul yet seeing similarity of someone who is dear to you puts the phrase” there for the grace of god” into my head ….thank you for sharing x x x

  13. Pervagus says:

    Wonderfully described. For me your piece reminds me that although so different, a vagrant still is somebody’s someone and this guy could be somebody’s old man too. Thanks for sharing. 

  14. Charles Elliott says:

    He nodded his aged headlooking up at me one last timebefore he finally lowered it againjust the way daddy didwhen I was bothering him

    Wow! And ouch…

  15. Shashi says:

    Ahh!! I thought he was not going to be … and in the end, you sprung the surprise with your words… ‘just the way, daddy did’ It quite an emotional encounter and i wonder what you did later on…. 

    ॐ नमः शिवाय 
    Om Namah Shivaya
    At Twitter @VerseEveryDay:twitter 

  16. love the word tour, the imagery is vivid and impressive.

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