Old Man

Jim Harrison



An old man is a spindly junk pile.
He is so brittle he can fall
through himself top to bottom.
No mirror is needed to see the layers
of detritus, some years clogged with it.
The red bloody layer of auto deaths
of dad and sister. Deaths piled like cordwood
at the cabin, the body 190 pounds of ravaged
nerve ends from disease. The junk pile is without
sympathy for itself. A life is a life,
lived among birds and forests and fields.
It knew many dogs, a few bears and wolves.
Some women said they wanted to murder him
but what is there worth murdering?
The body, of course, the criminal body
doing this and that. Some will look
for miraculous gold nuggets in the junk
and find a piece of fool’s gold in the empty
cans of menudo, a Mexican tripe stew.


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