Tom J. Mariani

Rookie (January 1948 / San Francisco, CA)

In His Day - Poem by Tom J. Mariani

I don't recall what I saw first
His face of his boots
Both were old and battered
State-issued brown high-tops

One held together
By a thin torn strip
Of bed sheet wrapped and tied
Around the sole and top of the toe

It showed more
Signs of wear
Than the other boot
That seemd much newer

Leading me to believe
They had been acquired
At different times
How did they get mismatched

His face had deep creases
Or age and wear too
Black tight short weave
Receding and graying

This morning he was
Standing in line
Waiting to use one of the two
Open cell common sinks and toliets

They had to serve one-hundred and ten
Prisoners housed on Broadway
The open bunk area for the overflow
In San Quentin's West Block

Standing there in his
Baggy pajama style
Orange top and elastic banded pants
His body was ill defined

As he turned his head
I could see he was missing
A couple of teeth and
His left eye

There was a dark socket
Where his eye once was
The rest of his face
Just looked tired

It was pretty early
Watchinig from my lower bunk
On the ground floor
Of the five tiers of West Block

I had the luxury
In a two-man five foot by
Nine foot cell of
Our own toilet and sink

We didn't have to
Line up early
Before breakfast
To use the common heads

I had forgotten
About the old guy
Until I saw him
Later that day

We were in the exercise yard
He had his orange top off
This old dude still had
Strong muscle definition

No excess steriod
Metal pushing bulk
Like some of the
Younger guys were strutting

In his day
My guess was
He went up to 155
Welter-weight or light heavy

Afterr watching his workout
Of finger-tip inclined push-ups
And shadow boxing
I could imagine

As he walked across the yard
In his mismatched shoes
He could still go
Deep into a ten round match

With most of these guys

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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Poem Edited: Monday, April 25, 2011

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