The man downstairs was found by the police

attempting to cross the Goethals Bridge,

confused and seemingly surprised

that whey wanted to charge his $8.00

to get into what he thought

was his own driveway.

The man downstairs is awake all night,

wandering wearily from room to room,

a can of spray paint in his hand.

He does not know his name

or what he is looking for,

but inches insistently along the carpet,

threading his way through the hallways —

a man in a maze.

He wears his tie around his waist

and talks to his socks as he puts them to bed,

converses quietly with people long since dead

and with the Boy Scouts he used to coach,

urging them earnestly to wear underwear.

The man downstairs sits by the window,

watching and waiting for hours on end.

Sometimes he cries at nothing —

at the raindrops that fall

polka-dotting the window

or the sunlight that warms the asphalt below.

He was a master plumber in his youth,

sang solo with the choir for many years,

and used to be my father.

Elaine Koplow is a retired union organizer and English teacher. She lives with her dog in northwest New Jersey, where she writes and enjoys the great outdoors. She is the director of the Sussex County Writers’ Roundtable. Her poems have appeared in several publications.

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