Thursday, August 6, 2015

Speaking To The Man Upstairs

It was a halfway house on East University Avenue


At the end of the long wooden hallway

Each plank seemed to creak out

Some old ill sound

As my small feet walked across them

I was only ten years old at the time

I had been sent to grab some stew meat

From the only working refrigerator

Where all the residents kept what little they had

The community sink and bathroom

Were on the same end of the hall

There were only five or six rooms upstairs

He was standing outside his doorway

His hand bandaged

“What ya doin’ kid?”

“Grabbing some stew meat for dinner.”

“What’d you do to your hand?”

He pulled hard on his cigarette

As he exhaled waves of smoke

He said, he burned it

Fell asleep while smoking in bed

My mother later said, he was a drunk

He had probably passed out

Woke up on fire

She said, he was an ex-con

That he hadn’t been out long

I opened the fridge and grabbed what I was sent to get

Turning around

I asked, “Where’s Mr. Ericson been?”

The man’s brow pulled together tight, “He’s gone, Kid.”

He pulled hard on his smoke once more

His cherry now glowing

“They carried him out the other morning.”


“He died. Been dead a week before anyone noticed.”

I didn’t or couldn’t understand this at the time

How could anyone pass away and no one miss them?

My thoughts

My questions

Must have been written

Across my face

The man thumped his ash into the sink

Then spoke up once more

“Mr. Ericson was an old drunk.”

“A wino.”

“Not many miss you when you’ve gone that far.”

“He was old and used up.”

I ran into the man upstairs at least once a week

He would tell me stories of losing his friends

In Vietnam

He said, the war was nothing like the movies

And sometimes he didn’t speak at all

I didn’t understand a lot of what

The man upstairs said back then

But his words have become

Transparent over time

Some were lies

Some were truths

Some were just the way it was back then

When I would talk to the man upstairs

No comments:

Post a Comment