“The Old Man,” oil on canvas, by Ivan Kulikov, 1898.

by Jack D. Harvey

Yes, that is me
on my pet pony
only two and a half years old.

Him? Father?
No, that’s me four years ago
in my forties.
That old man with
the big dusty hat
and the tired eyes,
that’s me on
three-quarters of a century.

Who inverted, who turned
the hourglass so fast,
bent me down and out
of shape like an old plough?
Like old beat-up iron
needing time on the anvil,
but there is no anvil,
there is no smith
to hammer me back in shape,
to straighten me,
to beat back the grains
of sand, falling, falling,
to the bottom of
the unturned glass.

Yes, that is me,
going along in time
with a heap of falling sand;
then nothing but ash and shadow,
dead bones
and I won’t be back.

“Self-Portrait” originally appeared in Scarlet Leaf Review.


Jack D. Harvey’s poetry has appeared in Scrivener, Mind In Motion, The Antioch Review, The University of Texas Review, Beloit Poetry Journal and elsewhere. He is a Pushcart nominee and his work has been showcased in several anthologies.