When the fairly dignified tall old man
Walks out into the neighborhood
In his one warm sweater against the cool gray day
He does not care if others know
That the income he lives on is “fixed.”

For over twenty years he has insisted,
Forcefully saying so to friends,
“Believe it or not, I have no regrets.”
Hearing Edith Piaf belt out her “Non, je ne regrette rien,”
He thinks of himself as a Stoic.

That eight-year marriage so very long ago,
His ex-wife dead for six years now?
No regrets. That he was inattentive
To his elderly mother? That he avoided his sister
When his sister was moody? No. No regrets.

But now he no longer ignores the spreading cracks
In the walls of the tower he built and called “I Am Content.”
Instead at eighty he admits to himself, “I know I live in no tower,
I live in a studio apartment on the dark side of the street
The sun hardly enters. I regret this makes a difference to my cat.”

Jonathan Bracker’s poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry Northwest, The RavensPerch, Writer’s Digest, and other periodicals, anthologies, collections. Bracker is the editor of Bright Cages: The Selected Poems Of Christopher Morley (University of Pennsylvania Press: 1965), co-author with Mark Wallach of Christopher Morley (Twayne Press: 1976), and editor of A Little Patch Of Shepherd’s-Thyme: Prose Passages Of Thomas Hardy Arranged As Verse (Moving Finger Press: 2013).