A Fear of Old Age

The dread, always, 
of coming to this: 

to sit 
day after day 
chain smoking 
in a soiled undershirt 
beside the cracked window 
of a fifth-floor walkup 
on Railroad Avenue 
with stains on the wall,  
dead flies on the sill, 
no hot water, 
and the cold water rusty; 

to sit 
smoking and coughing 
watching dust settle down, 
freights rumble by, 
and beyond the tracks 
the river flowing 
gray and tedious 

while on the other, 
the opposite, shore 
the distant lights 
of someplace else  
rise up in a glory 
more awesome than Rome 
and now unreachable 
as anyplace anywhere.

From Getting Lost in a City Like This by Jack Anderson. Copyright © 2009 by Jack Anderson. Used by permission of Hanging Loose Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.