At Coldwater Canyon

 

I move through
streets- unfamiliar to me,
cold, I wrap myself
tight in my fleece.

Day dwindling,
light closing,
time and money spent
I watch the old man
on the dampened pavement.

Something in me breaks-
as I slow down my pace,
and I struggle to look
at his expressionless face.

Detached- he’s elsewhere
absent from these streets,
back in trenches
with barbed fences
still unable to sleep.

Once a soldier; diligent,
he fought for a cause
once a son; he returned
but not as he was.

For his war is internal,
defective, ingested
leaching through him
like lies from a country;
Mindless fighters requested.

The path lights are low
casting shadows that haunt,
and I feel ashamed in nice labels
that I knowingly flaunt.

I am an artist, I ask…
“Would you pose for me?”
He is nervous at first,
then the old man agrees.

I approach him gently
drop some change in his cup
watch his chin lift
as he straightens right up.

He holds himself proud
holds his head high,
as I paint past shabbiness
I see wasted youth in his eyes.

I smile although saddened
as I capture his heart
what no-one dare see
has seeped out through my art,

onto canvas it bleeds-
the life of this man
underneath this broken shell,
all used up
here is a hero; a young war veteran.

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