Shell

by Mari Aviles 
a humble imitation of Ted Kooser’s “Abandoned Farmhouse”

He is an older man, says his receding hairline and wrinkles that rest in the corners of his eyes; 
A poor, older man, say the ill-fitting dentures, removed to eat and slipping at will- 
And a man who’s seen trouble, say the tattoos that showcase experience, not art
But not a man who’s bitter says the cared for cat, clearly doted upon.

People loved him, say the old photographs of women, mostly, 
holding him on their laps as a little boy for birthday after birthday
a lover of music say the guitars- acoustic, electric, six-string, twelve-string

He knows the Lord, say the New Testaments, in English and Spanish, highlighted and well-worn
But he doubts if the Lord still loves him, say the arrest records, mug shots, and empty liquor bottles

Something happened, say the searching eyes and often forced smile
A GED says school was not for him, 
the still-sealed potential of his intellect and talent longing for an outlet.
Something certainly went wrong.

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