Monday, January 18, 2010

An Old Man

Over the holidays I was in a few airports. In Albuquerque I was waiting at the gate and I saw this elderly Hispanic man reading a newspaper. I was reading a book myself, but I like to watch people at airports. He was right across from me. I looked up as he put his paper down on the empty chair next to him. Unselfconsciously, he cried. I didn't see what he was reading in the paper. My guess is that he read an obituary of an old friend or a sad news story. When I got on the plane, I wrote this poem in my notebook. Then I got to thinking about the alphabet and how it can make you laugh and cry. That's where the poem/song "Twenty-Six" came from.

Anyway, this little piece is sort of the prequel to "Twenty-Six".

I saw an old man
With his head in his hands
His life running by
Just like falling sand

Tears in his eyes
Grief on his face
Another sad member
Of the human race

His collar turned up
To shield from the cold
Nothing matters now
Not possessions or gold

The newspaper next to him
Opened up wide
Black and white faces
Passed to the other side

Vincent van Gogh's Old Man with his Head in his Hands (At Eternity's Gate) Graphic

1 comment:

Chris Hass said...

I'm glad to hear you enjoy people watching. I do the same thing but I've been accused of being too obvious about it. A few years ago I sat in the airport making sketches in my writing journal of the people I saw. I'm not that great of an artist but I can still revisit those sketches and remember the people rather clearly.

Still, reading your stories and poems about the people in airports, restaurants, and K-Mart makes me think I either don't observe enough or I'm surrounded by far less interesting people!