Old Tom

The old man walks stolidly by
Questions spring to my mind I know not why
He has burdens he carries it is obvious to me
I heard somewhere he was in battles over the sea

A back not bent but held stiff and straight
It says stay out like a locked back gate
His time with us he spends alone
The secrets of his past are his alone

I see haunted eyes staring from his face
As he watches the street kids in a game of chase
What does he see from those eyes of grey
What memories does he hide from day after day

His smile he shares with us on the street
His voice to our ears however a rare treat
Thick calloused fingers and an affinity for the soil
Tell of time spent working never shirking from toil

A rural background I like to envision
With time in the services on a secret mission
An affectionate pat to the local street pets
That’s as close to our community as he ever gets

His house and yard are kept pristine
The pride he takes easy to be seen
His clothes are worn
But not tattered or torn

To get inside to know this man
Is a task that I must take into hand
Respect for his privacy is paramount to me
An enigma among he remains a puzzle to me


Author Notes

An older poem for a man that lives in our street and strolls among us everyday yet we know nothing much about him.

13 Comments for “Old Tom”

says:

Good write, Craig! A like your characterization of the old man. We had a few folks like that around town when I was growing up – decent enough, but unsociable, and unapproachable, for some reason. Write on!

says:

Well done, Craig! It makes us wonder, too, what this man is thinking and what he’s been through. I like the way you respect his privacy. In the second stanza, using “alone” at the end of the last two lines jumps out at me. Maybe the secrets of his past unknown? I’d consider changing one of them. Great job!
Lina

Tim Hillebrant

says:

Hey Craig!

Great write here. We had an old guy like this when I was growing up. His name was Austin, and he was shell shocked from the war (WW2). He lived as a hobo, but he was someone all the kids left alone. No one ever knew where he stayed, or how he got by day to day. When he died, a map was found on him showing places all around town where he’d stashed things- money, food, blankets, etc. He ended up being worth quite a bit, but because of the way he lived, one would never have known.
Your poem reminds me of old Austin a lot.

Well done, sir!

Tim

says:

Wow. I love this poem, Craig! I love how you describe this man’s character, the respect you show, the curiosity of wanting to know more, but understanding he is a private man. Excellent job on this.

These last two lines read a bit awkward to me, while most everything else flows.
“Respect for his privacy is paramount to me
An enigma among he remains a puzzle to me”

Write On!
Becky

says:

Thanks Becky yes I have meant to come back to this poem for a while the ending also annoyed me as I doubled up with enigma and puzzle.. How does this sound
“An enigma he remains to me”
let me know what you think cheers

says:

To get inside to know this man
Is a task that I must take into hand
Respect for his privacy is paramount to me
An enigma among he remains a puzzle to me

Suggestions on this stanza:
into=to
paramount-think of a shorter strong word
Take out “among” and I think that last line will work fine as is. Perhaps a coma after remains to create a slight pause?

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