The twistedness of what we leave as legacy might yet be redeemed.


In a life too stingy with permissions,
he learned so late to give his own
His first denied, to enter life with grace,
slapped instead to wailing awareness,
then torn (unasked) from breast to bottle

The world is colder than the womb

Permission denied and then denied again
to shit benignly in a diaper, smiling and untrained,
or cross a street, question the parental voice,
to cry in some unmanly way at hurts,
his growing-up life a rhetoric of learned denial

Not sure he likes this place

Industrialized youth, life as part of an assembly,
Stamped, pressed, bottled and capped by forces
Not his own, a shape as unknown to his soul
As foreign language, catching in his throat
A manly age, unprepared to be a man

But it’s expected and projected

Son to husband to father, struggling and stained
Looking for reflection in all those other eyes
A darkened glass in search of light and warmth
Handed off worn tools to build as best he can
These faded monuments to dreams gone by

Too young for all the dreams to pass

Yet any age is old enough to learn new skills
To feel the warm encouraging embrace of hope
The finding of permissions late in life
Reflection of self worth in bathroom mirrors
Gifts given late, the legacy of other generations

Never too late to pass a good thing on

Poetry Collection: Broken Pieces
This poem is included in
Jim Freeman’s
poetry collection
available here in print
or as an e-Book
in your favorite formats.