“Old Man” by Joseph Chelius

Old Man
Image by Penelope Breen

(For Andrew, six months in recovery)

As you strain for the high notes
I want to imagine it’s the 1970s
and I am brooding with Neil Young
at the wistful campfire of the turntable—
worn grooves like crackling embers—
and not gazing at palm fronds
on a wall in Delray.

But from identical chairs
we watch you at the foot of our bed—
guitar and sandals,
a crew cut that brings back the boy
with his baseball cards
those days before court appointments, trips
to detox, the resolve in your eyes,
unwavering pitch on the words
Twenty-four and so much more
enough for us to believe
in the transcendent power
of songs played on a dust-clumped needle—
our hearts like old vinyl, skipping again.



Joseph A. Chelius is employed as director of editorial services for a healthcare communications company in the Philadelphia suburbs. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in journals such as Commonweal, Poetry East, Rattle, Poet Lore, and the American Journal of Poetry. His full-length collection, The Art of Acquiescence, was published by WordTech Communications in 2014.


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