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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