Old Man?


Old Man?


The day’s work is done and I put down the phone,

Grab briefcase and coat and set off for home.

I’ve twenty five minutes to get to the station

Then thirty five more to my destination.

I’m in a hurry,

I’m starting to worry

That I’ll miss the next train

And its pouring with rain

So I rush up the lane

But my head won’t unwind

And a thought comes to mind.

I feel my pace drop

And I come to a stop

Outside a shop.

Surely a bottle of whiskey can’t hurt me?

I’m a success and I’m barely thirty.

My bank balance healthy, I achieve every goal.

I don’t need a drink, it’s under control.

I walk a bit quicker

With a swig of the liquor.

The heavenly fire

Soothes my desire

But soon I require

More, and then more

So I tip and I pour

Till I’m no longer sure

What I’m hurrying for.

I slow to a dawdle and I see an old man,

Huddled, shivering, some coins in a pan.

Mechanically downing some cheap German wine,

The pain of existence in every line

On his face, and the madness I see in his eyes

Reminds me of what I don’t dare recognise.

I’m gripped with fear.

I need to get clear

So I swig and I run,

But the whiskey’s begun

To have its own fun.

I stagger and stumble

And trip, slip and tumble.

My head strikes the ground

With a sickening sound.

Don’t know how long I’m down

But as I come round,

Through fierce driving rain

And a booze-addled brain,

I see him again.

I look in his face

With shame and disgrace,

And pity and hate

Cause I’ve glimpsed my own fate

And I’ve not long to wait;

He’s just thirty eight.


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