the old man & the fence

he wears the same shirt every day
(or must have hundreds of them, lined
up neatly in his wardrobe)

leant against his fence he
holds his cat, catching the evening sun
in lazy amber eyes.

He smiles friendly as i pass
but does he have a voice? not sure,
my headphones cover me –
so i know nothing of his sound
nor what he loves or hates and if

the imprint of his fence takes hours
or years to disappear from sunburnt arms.

smiling back and twinkling at the cat,
i walk on while he watches
(there’s just nothing else to see) and as
i disappear around the corner,

he may tell her of the light, reflecting on
blank-polished metal bars

which hold his fence,

which holds the street,

which holds his world


as the sun lays down for the night

. if you got a cat, make sure to tell her it’s one shot wednesday tonight and this wicked crowd of crazy poets gathers for a blistering poetic blaze over at One Stop where we will bathe in words without a single drop of sun-lotion…come and join us..sign up opens 5pm EST


57 responses to “the old man & the fence

  1. I like it Claudia–we are separated, yet somehow not alienated, sharing our space with cat and fence and sky, and old geezer who can’t change his shirt. There’s a bit of sadness, yet also a sense of tranquility. The four ending lines are perfect.

  2. I love the tension of indifference and contentment in this poem Claudia…so much in life is in our perspective…which side of the fence we happen to be standing on, or leaning against.

  3. Hi! Claudia…
    Once again, your written words are beautiful as are your spoken words…unfortunately, I’m unable to hear your spoken words [due to the fact, that I’m using a computer with no sound…] with that being said, your poetry without sound is still very well-written and very descriptive too!
    Thanks for sharing!
    deedee 😉

  4. smiles. great capture of the moment…you put us right there…as hedge said we are all interconnected on some level…even in passing..and esp in the noticing of each other…

  5. I’ll bear this in mind for the neighbors’ cats…there’s always one or another lurking around here…

    Heh, but seriously, a fun and descriptive piece, painting a curious portrait for us. Strong ending, and quite a strange one, this old man…I second Moonie in saying, it’s a pleasure having you as a member of the team, Claudia! May the next year be as wonderful – and find more of your lovely poetry to grace us with!

  6. Great job capturing that one moment in time and really putting more words and thought to it than most ever would. Just have to twinkle at the cat..haha

  7. The end of the poem made me think that if you took one element away, the man’s whole world would fall apart. Like sometimes a vision seems iconic, as if it’s meant to be and eternal.

    Don’t know why but as I read I thought of the Faith No More song “Helpless” – a man looks out on a world that seems perfect, everything in its place, except he doesn’t feel integrated into it.

  8. I like your perspective here, Claudia… your imagery is as stunning as ever! But in this poem, you have delved further and deeper into the human pysche.. and you’ve really done it beautifully too!
    I think that those little things that separate us are the same things that bring us closer than we can ever imagine… no?

    This poem has a nice warm feel to it.. and I love it!

  9. Such a nicely balanced poem between together and isolation/alone. The cat to me serves as the linch pin, holding it all together. A sentiment I’m sure our cats would agree with.

  10. This is a slight change of voice for you Claudia, more reflective (still musical) but for a second put on pause to notice the “lonely in the eye” of someone you don’t know. Quite affecting and lovely. It’s been a good year Claudia and better for having met & spent time with you! Thanks.

  11. I like the subtle unspoken communication within this poem, the rather strange man, who you have a quiet sympathy for, a familiar respect, and the delicate way normal rhythms, the mundane is expressed…and the sense of his life, and perhaps others, pivoting around his ‘fence/s, bars, street, the concrete structural objects, holding people up, defining space, identity even and by extension also dividing us..

  12. yeah…we pass by them… and so often unconciously aware of them.. for yes, we are human… we still are

  13. I think I’ve said this before, but really, this is my all-time favorite so far! For one thing, it reminds me of my father-in-law (a farmer.) And it just makes me happy. One of those glimpses into a moment of life that feels, well, good. Just good.

    (And I don’t have a cat. Can I tell the dog about One Shot Wednesday 😉

  14. I like this.. quite a bit.. it is one of those poems I call “slices of life” it’s relatable and honest.. I know that man too, we all know someone like that for we are all one, just different fences separate us..

    Truly enjoyed this Claudia!!!

  15. Really nice piece Claudia, I enjoyed it very much. I told my cats about one shot, but they kind of looked at me with their little snobbish “don’t bother me” look and then walked out of the room. and to think I even used the cute voice:)

  16. Nice one, Claudia. I don’t have any cats or dogs, so I just tell my phone to remind me about One Shot!

    Your recording added an extra something to this.

  17. The sun lays down for the night–and so do I…with my cat “Burt”. Wearing the same shirt as every day……

    Claudia, you know how to really warm the heart.

  18. I love how you’ve described this brief exchange, if I can call it that.

    And I did tell my cat that it’s time for One Shot Wednesday. She just plopped down on the keyboard.

  19. So true…faces we see everyday impacts our lives unknowingly as it fades..the old man had a life like we do…juz’ that he saw it through different eyes…a different life!! Beautiful, random thoughts woven so well..Loved it!

  20. Claudia such a pleasure to read again and the changes you’ve made are wonderful! I life the spacing between the last lines…it somehow feels like your arms try to encompass that space and his life. Masterful!!

  21. i got shivers listening to you read your beautiful words. like others before me, i agree the last four lines are perfection!

  22. There is such mystery in this poem. Tension of not knowing. Relief of not needing to know. Of being in the same place, together yet apart.

    Another masterpiece!

  23. I love this slice of life…natural, there isn’t an artificial image here….not that you do that, but it’s a lovely, calm poem….with a lovely progress to the end…that last line is superb.

    This seems more reflective, Claudia….and the sparcity of words pulls in that direction.

    Lovely. Emotionally, a very balanced and satisfying poem.

    Lady Nyo

  24. I got this feeling at the end of pulling back, like those videos of a place on earth as they pan back to reveal the whole globe, but all there really is is you, the man, the fence, the cat. And the universe.

    Great trip! Thanks!

  25. the way light and night rhyme is like a polished ornament at the end. i enjoyed the feeling of separation in this, as well as connectedness. that’s life, oftentimes, seems to me, living on both ends of the spectrum with some people. by the way, some people think i have a closet full of the same style of jeans, but no, i just have one pair:)

  26. Lovely poetry, Claudia. I rather enjoy when you weave a story. This one made me smile for I think of men of the land who always don the same uniform, a plain shirt and khakis or dungarees with an old fashion kerchief for good measure (my nonno for certain) ~

  27. You’ve captured such poignant feelings. I felt a sadness that they never connected – far too often that’s just the way it is.

  28. really nice, i particularly loved ‘catching the evening sun
    in lazy amber eyes’ …really a lot of warmth in those words.