A Fear of Old Age by Jack Anderson

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.

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