The Old Road Sweeper’s Brush

The Old Road Sweeper’s Brush

Now I'm sixty-eight or so
the skin is wrinkling on my arms,
my feet are numb, my mind is slow,
I'm losing my, what once were, charms.

When I was only seventeen
my eyes were bright, my skin was clear,
psoriasis I'd never seen,
I suffered neither hope nor fear.

As I approach my final stage
I feel I need be more discursive,
(I hear Sterne made it all the rage),
either that, or more subversive.

So in this state of befuddlement,
(increasingly it's got a hold),
elucidating what I meant
by insisting on becoming old,

it's necessary I think, or not,
depending on your point of view,
to indicate now how one got
to the point of being 'you'.

We know that every seven years
your every cell becomes replaced
but the history of your hopes and fears,
once added there, can stilled be traced

and tracked to make you what you seem,
an amalgam of your every act
and thought and every single dream
you've not been able to redact.

So what we are is not the heart,
the brain, the blood, kidneys, skin,
but something else that's held apart
we keep our understanding in.

(Camus, well, he would object to
prioritising the Essential,
argue we should not neglect to
campaign for the Existential).

Then let's imagine a collective vault
where every memory is kept
with no apportionment of fault,
particularly by those adept

at sniffing out a world of sin
held only in their imagination.
(Where, in truth, do I begin
to penetrate their flagellation!)

I think this was researched by Jung,
(a colleague of that Sigmund Freud).
whose formula, when once begun
began to get his mate annoyed.

Not that I know much of this,
snippets only I have read,
but Jung, he seemed to find a bliss
like state by following this thread,

this dive into the deep unconscious,
collectivising every stream
of consciousness, it made him anxious
to so interpret every dream,

discover what it was that made us,
levitate so from our skin,
finding shadows that would shade us
as we fought the shades within.

(I said discursion was my forte,
wandering off and coming back.
It's a kind of prolix foreplay
lubricating every crack.)

Then what is it I'm trying to tell you
in this self-indulgent verse?
(Self-indulgence is my milieu,
other sins are less a curse.)

Can you spot procrastination
when you see it in full view,
putting off this obligation,
finding other things to do?

Enough! What is it to be human,
animal, with a pulse?
Surely very little more than
a cluster of cells and little else?

We're just like every other living
organism on this Earth,
fucking, fighting, grasping, giving
love to those we've given birth.

The question of our cells' replacement
each and every seven years,
just describes our outer casement,
never why we end in tears,

or the reason for our dreaming,
the character of love and hate
or the striving for some meaning
or any other human trait.

Quite so. Now I'm sixty-eight
with wrinkly arms and muted ears
I'd like to try and demonstrate
how we remain all though the years.

For this, the comic metaphor
about the old road sweeper's brush
attacks the question at it's core;
enlightenment comes in a rush!

He loved that broom with all his heart
as he cleaned the street with steady treads.
He used the same one from the start,
with it's seven handles, fourteen heads.

Categorized as Poems

By Arthur Richardson

Very part time poem maker. Retired from paid work.


  1. Love this my brother. Dipping your toe into existential exploration! Crikey, its thrilling to discover that your aging must be bringing with it a desire to understand more than … Love the dipping in, then pulling back, then trying again. Very much you methinks.
    Discursive procrastination – made me smile. x


Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: