“The Corner of Desolation and Waste” by Tobi Cogswell

The Corner of Desolation and Waste

Rundown like the toothless gums

of an apple doll left under a tree

last Christmas and missed until

Easter, the Veteran’s Hall stands,

a gray bunker of square brick, some

of the windows blocked off, no sign

of life and no cars outside…the men

who come here to ruminate and

reminisce are the old ones; only

their baseball caps or the odd patch

on a jacket gives you an idea of

what they would talk about –


if the words that populated their

nightmares would come forth to

the living in daylight and heal them.


The only time I saw my grandfather

without his walker was when he

hobbled his way to the counter

to get coffee, probably made during

the very same war he was in, with

powdered creamer that stayed stuck

to the stick like unbrushed teeth.

He’d smile and chat on the way,

methodically turn the black to

skin-colored beige with the focus

of a neurosurgeon, then chat

on the way back, to fall into

his favorite chair, sip and think,

until I helped him home for supper.


I came most days for a while to visit.  My

grandfather was always in the same

chair.  I never had to scan the sadness

or smell that peculiar smell of old

for very long.  And when we’d go home

until tomorrow, we’d think without words

that we both hoped the same men

would be there, because to think

any other way would be so horrible,

you might as well be back in the war.


Tobi - cropped Rhode Island

Tobi Cogswell is a three-time Pushcart nominee and a Best of the Net nominee. Credits include or are forthcoming in various journals in the US, UK, Sweden and Australia. Her fifth and latest chapbook is Lit Up, (Kindred Spirit Press). She is the co-editor of San Pedro River Review (www.sprreview.com).

3 thoughts on ““The Corner of Desolation and Waste” by Tobi Cogswell

  1. Michael Corrigan says:

    A gorgeous poem from Tobi, lovely writing.

  2. Pat Byrnes says:

    Tobi…I can feel it, smell it and hope for it. Wow! Pat

  3. its a sad but true refleclction of the circle of life.

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