Old men in flannel shirts,
tricked by curbs and crosswalks,
with shaving soap dry behind one ear
and ragged nails on wretched hands.
Did you ever swing an ax,
chopping and splitting, drenched in sweat,
then rest among the chips with a smoke,
while wondering at the summer sky?
Old men, gaunt and bewhiskered,
with unmatched socks circling puny ankles,
humming partial songs, words forgotten
or choosing a single plum at a stall.
Did you ever feel the electric thrill
of a woman’s touch as she beckoned you,
finding her warm breath
the better of any fine perfume?
Old men with limping pets,
your dogs near lost in untrimmed coats,
chatting with them as humans
while assuming their part of the discourse.
When you stood straight and strong
in the beer tent at the County Fair
and drank and joked with your bumptious pals,
did you see any old fellows watching?
Phil Huffy had a long career doing something else entirely. Now, he writes early and often at his kitchen table in Rochester, New York.