Ronald J. Pelias

Reading the Signs

Having arrived at the punch line
of the joke aging tells, I sit
down with my wattle and warts
in the chair that’s taken my shape.
I reach for the book I keep
trying to read before falling asleep.
Nothing seems worth holding,
except what I can’t remember.


The cat curls into a crescent moon, gathers
sunlight through the cracked-open blinds.
A dark brown rim forms on the cold
coffee cup sitting on the cluttered desk.
The worn manuscript, pages cornered,
collects corrections at the cost of another day.
Nothing is finished, not even the old man
whose body is falling away like sand
in an open hand. He holds his short breath
as he revises another line toward the end.

Ronald J. Pelias spent most of his career writing books, e.g., If the Truth Be Told (Brill Publications), The Creative Qualitative Researcher (Routledge), and Lessons on Aging and Dying (Routledge), that call upon the literary as a research strategy. Now he just writes for the pleasures of lingering in bafflement.

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