Whole Brain Catalog

Old Man

Listen to a poem from issue #90.
Photo by Sally Peterson

Photo by Sally Peterson

Audio version read by George Atherton


A 90 year old man
sat on his walker in the cereal aisle
an aisle so long
so comically, absurdly
so grotesquely long
he had to rest
his old American legs

He was hairless
possibly from cancer treatments
but his eyes shined
battles and wits
an eternal youth of sorts
like an old bull elephant

I approached him because
I liked him very much
he was a fighter
he wouldn’t be caught dead
on a scooter-cart
neither would I
me and him would rather crawl
than use the scooter-cart

Hello sir
I said to him
and he looked up at me
with a wide
I’m-not-scared-of-death
smile
a smile that can only be cast
by a man who has dodged bullets
a smile by a man who has dodged them
literally
on a beach in Europe

He looked at me with his
smile, with his connection,
his wisdom that was drilled to
the center of the Earth
and he said
Too many choices aren’t there?

Far too many choices sir.

I remember when there was just
Corn Flakes and Wheaties.

That sounds fine to me.
I told him.
I asked him if he needed anything:
Need me to reach a box
Guard you through the door
Set this place on fire
Start a new nation
Anything sir, what will it be?

He replied,
Nope
I’m heading to the checkout.
Carry on young man.

–Alec Binyon

32 comments on the article “Old Man”

Displaying 21 - 30 of 32

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Anonymous

Many had very little ... but gave everything - every time asked ... and asked for nothing... "carry on young man." The character , the fortitude . The world made sense and people were real. I hope we can get back to this place.

Anonymous

Many had very little ... but gave everything - every time asked ... and asked for nothing... "carry on young man." The character , the fortitude . The world made sense and people were real. I hope we can get back to this place.

scrub.

Very beat. Definitely heard some Bukowskiesque lines, not in the same league, but similar.
Good effort, with enough work it could be something special. :)

scrub.

Very beat. Definitely heard some Bukowskiesque lines, not in the same league, but similar.
Good effort, with enough work it could be something special. :)

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