When you have a son
you start seeing men
backwards, intuiting their childhood
selves beneath the years of accretions–
the bags and jowls, paunches,
thickened, crumpled skin,
the whole weight of the individual
person/ality, its freight of filters,
opinions, prejudices, habits,
likes, congealed—as if you knew them
before they even knew themselves.

So when a man stumbles toward you,
mumbling, across the Cubb’s Foods parking lot,
unkempt and coatless in the snow,
and your discriminating mind says
“madman,” “danger,” though he never
once looks up, locked in an altered world,
fixed, unfixable, you lock your car door and then
sit there wondering how it happened,
when things started going wrong.
Knowing he was once a toddler–
for pity’s sake—you find it
strange, unreal, this mane of wild
grey hair, grey beard. Somehow
you know it doesn’t belong on him,
all that hair, and you don’t know
how he got to be so lost, so sick, so old.

Read a review of Casting Off by Richard Swanson here.

Order here to get your copy of Casting Off from Parallel Press.
ISBN: 978-1-893311-90-9; paper $10.00