I always think the old man lingering
over a fast-food senior coffee refill
or filling the tank of a rattle-trap truck
should be somebody’s grandpa.
I imagine him playing “got your nose”
or “pull my finger” instead
of casting conversational nets
to strangers … “Hot enough for you?”
“I’ve been coming to this place
ever since it first opened.”
“I remember when … you’d get
a free dish with every fill-up…
this was all farmland out here…
I was on a cruiser in World War II…”
Sometimes they gather in flocks
at the Main Street McDonald’s
or the library, holding newspapers,
wearing hats indoors as if
they weren’t raised any better
and opining on one thing or another.
Everywhere I go, I see at least one
lonely man looking for an audience.
I guess he’s a bachelor, a widower,
or maybe somebody’s grandma
just shooed him out, claiming
she needs to sweep, when really
she just wants to hear herself think.
This is a longer version of a previous poem in which I explain why whenever we go somewhere, my husband finds me talking to other men.