Friday, May 28, 2010

wheelchair man


The following presents not only one man's struggle in old age, but the connectedness of a man and a dog. Normally they share a love of each other, but even as casual adversaries they can share a certain bond, or even destiny:

The wheelchair man wheels himself down the
street, stopping to drag his paralyzed right leg
back onto the footrest. He's grizzled, decrepit,
smells of filth, tobacco stains his unkept beard.
He tries to grin but minus teeth his grin is a slash.
Leaning sideways, he purses his lips, spits tobacco.

The wheelchair man wheels himself down the
street, occasionally kicking with his good leg
at a diseased black dog that skulks in shadows
near a meat market. Following, the stray bares its
yellow teeth, nips at the man's hand as he wheels.
A well-placed kick and the dog briefly retreats.

The wheelchair man wheels himself down the
street, stopping under an overhanging bush. Pulling
a bottle from his threadbare army coat, he throws back
his contorted face, draws long on the whisky. Tucking the
bottle, he kicks again toward the dog, puts a finger to
his nostrils, blows several wads of mucus, wheels off.

The wheelchair man wheels himself down the
street, stopping short of the school where he knows
children may throw rocks at him and call him names -
"gimp", "crip", "asshole". "Bastards"- he always retorts.
Under a leafless tree he spits brown juice, drinks,
pulls the tube from his urine bottle, empties it.

The wheelchair man wheels himself down the
street, struggling more than usual to keep himself
going. He's cold, miserable, feels faint, and spits mucus
flecked with blood. The black stray sits on its haunches
nearby, watching the elderly man's distress. The old man
struggles against the brutal wind in making it back home.

The Wheelchair man fails to wheel himself down the
street this cold day. His wheelchair sits to the side of
his shack, empty of the gray man since his death, and rusting
in the early November rain. The old black dog snarls toward
the emptiness of the wheelchair, coughs yellow mucus,
licks his wounds, then crawls beneath the man's porch.

From under the man's porch the elderly black dog
will often wander aimlessly down the street, stopping short
of the school where children will throw rocks at him.
It's bitter cold this day. Under a leafless tree the dog sniffs
the air for the man. Looking about, he growls at nothing,
lays where the old man would stop, scratches flea bites.


J.P.Christiansen said...

what a lovely and existential poem,
catching two lonely and sorrowful fates.

The poem is complete in its composition,
picking up the man's life as it is,
and has been,
for a long time,
and proceeding to its inevitable end.

Well done!

Warren said...

J.P. - Thank you very much for your comments - it's nice that someone takes the time to really read a verse. Do you have a blog?

Thanks - Warren

Bill said...

In the second-to-last stanza, put a comma after "death" (line 3). Otherwise you have "after his death and rusting."

J.P.Christiansen said...

Thanks for asking if I have a blog.
No, I don't,
and though I'm a writer,
I'm not quite sure if my poet would
appreciate if I become a servant of ambition,
rather than dedicating my efforts to him.

I've tried to convince him that getting
exposure for his message is what counts,
so we'll see if a blog may result later.

I do have some poetry posted,
here and there,
on line,
and in magazines,
but the ones on line are mostly dedicated
to the subject-matter of the problems
caused by Islam's assault on free speech
in my Denmark and Europe.

Google 'J.P.Christiansen, poetry, comment'.

I'll return to your site to read some more
of your stuff, and make the occasional comment.

-your fellow poet,

J.P.Christiansen said...

I forgot to mention that the previous comment
is really a personal note, and not for posting.

Likewise with these links, for you.


Adelaide said...

Dear Warren,

I read this through to the end, although it was hard to continue. You have portrayed a bleak life and a bleak end for this particular man and beast, who have, by chance formed a tenuous connection.I sense that the man and dog had passed each other many times before, otherwise, why would the dog hang around after the man dies?

A sad, but powerful piece.


Warren said...

Hi Adelaide - Thanks very much for commenting. I am using myself somewhat with this piece. I'm in a wheelchair much of the time - thanks to post polio syndrome (a progressive disease)and am either using a walker or the wheelchair most of the time now since my "good" muscle are weakening progressively. I'm also a recovering alcoholic and pill addict so I draw upon those tendencies or really lousy life experiences for this piece. However, I have a wonderful wife and home and I'm not the person I depict here - just projecting for the sake of poetry.

Thanks again -