The Old Picture In The Back Hall

By Art Elser

I walk into the back hall, stop, bend down
to take the leash off the dog, catch my breath
after our three mile walk. I glance at a picture
hanging to my right. A young man smiles back
at me, leans jauntily against a small, gray airplane,
right hand resting easily on a pistol at his hip.
The plane is in a revetment built from rusty
fifty-five gallon drums, and in the background
puffy clouds hang in a pale Vietnamese sky.

The picture, taken forty-four years ago—its color
faded from sunlight and age—has hung in that spot
for a dozen years. I walk past it several times a day,
without noticing it. But today, the stark realization
of the passing of all that time catches me up.

What that young man did then, I could no longer do,
or even want to do. His deeds were adventurous
and exciting to him. Today they are the fearsome
and haunting memories of an old warrior.

Categories: Issue 4, Poetry | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “The Old Picture In The Back Hall

  1. Julie Ripley

    Wonderful poem. Some time, in the distant future (really distant) maybe there will be a narrative coda, of how that photo helped you survive the insanities of the dot com bust! ***All three are inspiring. Keep up the good work, and it’s great to see you published. Warmly, Julie R.

    • Art Elser

      Is this my old, excuse me, dear friend, Julie, from the old days as US West? I’ve been thinking our you for a couple of days, perhaps emissions from your librarian’s brain have intersected with my very weak ones. Matt Osielski and I were just talking about you on Thursday as we had coffee at Starbucks in downtown Denver.

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