poetry critical

online poetry workshop

old man

the old man was left on my doorstep
shaggy and full of foxtails
i shaved him and snipped his balls
the sores on his ass started to heal
and years of family life fell off him
to such a degree
that he fought with the neighborhood stud
over the girl next-door
and got his ear ripped off
i moved him on a cold christmas morning
in a '72 Scout with no heat
over the passes of Utah
stopping every two hours
lifting him out of the back to set him down
to waddle off and pee
and each time i lifted him back up
he would release his gas and smile
the old man survived that move from L.A.
to the mountains of Colorado
and lived comfortably for two more years
until he just couldn't make it outside
not even to sniff or shit
so my ex-girlfriend had him euthanized
while i was in Brazil and i never
got to say goodbye to my old man

21 Jul 04

Rated 8.7 (7.2) by 25 users.
Active (25): 1, 4, 5, 5, 5, 7, 8, 8, 8, 9, 9, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10
Inactive (49): 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 2, 4, 5, 5, 5, 6, 6, 7, 7, 7, 7, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 9, 9, 9, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10

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(168 more poems by this author)

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Oh my...I don't know whether to laugh or cry. This is just too good.
 — unknown

i think this poem is wonderfully illustrated and achieves a brilliant balance of foreground, middleground and background. the composition is unique and its sense of scale is monumental. the play of light and shadow delights and the application of the medium is aggressive. the choice of subject matter is universal, yet personal, and the overall effect is aesthetically sophisticated.

"a boiler-plate" self-critique to get things going...
 — hank

boring, trite details of oneself on well-beaten subject matter.

more self-critique to keep things going....
 — hank

i'm quitting, i don't enjoy this self-critique as much as i enjoy critiquing others...
 — unknown

aww c'mon hank--you were doing well with the self-critiquing...i was enjoying it anyway. how about if i keep bumping this up...will that work?


first unknown
 — unknown

too many bad words. foul use of language. not descriptive.

you've inspired me unknown.
 — hank

maybe if you changed the man to guy. that way it wouldn't seem so much as you were referring to (your old) man but (and i am hoping), a dog? you'd have to (but maybe not) change my in the last sentence to the but it might work better. what do ya say hank? so far i am your only critiquer...just trying to help out and keep this in view.
 — unknown

but the dog's name was 'old man'.
plus i was going for the dual implication.
 — hank

ok...then what if you capitalized Old Man since it is a name...might that work better? *bump*
 — unknown

ahhh, from reading my poetry you know i hate capitalization and punctuation. they fuck with the aesthetic of the words.
and with this entry my comments are now in the double digits on this one. wahhooo!

(albeit most are my own)
thanks unknown
 — hank

although, i've noticed a trend toward the end of capitalization on the site recently, i wonder if it is because gnorm's influence is waning, or maybe everyone is just pilfering from 'ball', if the trend continues i will have to resort to utiLiZing some specialty capitals.
 — hank

ok hank my love...i have run out of critiques. would it be enough to rate this a 10 by both my usernames and get this to the recent best? or maybe i will just have to call in all favors owing...but then you'd owe me;)
 — unknown

a ten. i went from 1 to ten, and in such a short span. from ball to old man, and hammer received nuts...
unknown, you've two usernames but continue to be unknown to me?
 — hank

 — unknown

Aw hank. This makes me want to cry. If anyone ever euthanised my (fictitious) dog, I would kick them in the hoolies, twice. Oh boy. The lack of capitalisation makes this a celebration of life. Welcome to the world.
*opens doors for hank*

What dual implication? That old people get shovelled away and then euthanised when we're on 'holiday'?
 — wendz

holy shit
 — unknown

hhooolllldd  mmaaaannn.
 — unknown

thank you noodleman. i think roberto would buy me a drink maybe, and bukowski would drink it, certainly.
 — hank

wow, i though dogs were dogs
 — unknown

 — unknown

hey not too bad :) although it's a bit crass-- I don't like that in poetry, but then we all have our preferences.
 — Angelfire

this one i like to reread. i miss the fat old man with all of his grunting. amazing what an animal can mean in your life.
 — hank

This is just awful!  Who wants to read about old men, ass sores and snipped testicles???  It's outre but I don't find it very good.
 — unknown

You know what?  If you changed the title to MY OLD MAN, it would give the reader a clue as to what's coming.

This is really so sad but down to earth and smacks of a dad having outgrown his use to anyone.
 — Isabelle5

Having read the comments, now I get it.  I thought it was, you know...
 — Isabelle5

you people actually think this is about a fucking person! READ!
 — hank

Hank, Chill!  You wrote it so you "get it."  We're struggling through a lot of shit to find the gems and if we can't immediately figure out the dog is the Old Man, then don't disrespect us for it!  I can see exactly how to see it's a dog but on the first and second reading, I simply thought you had a very strange dad!  Get over this!
 — unknown

sorry. but, you know...
 — hank

I love this
 — slowtesque

kinda like poor mans tom waits.
 — unknown

the narrative suits the subject, and i love the allusion.
 — root

first run thought, ok.. maybe a little confusing
but take a little more time to take it all in.  
 — unknown

How about just, "...him euthanized. I was in Brazil, and I never got to say goodbye." It seems like the way you end it makes all your magic disappear, like you're too disappointedly overwhelmed to remember him with happiness or to let it go. I know it's very difficult to let such a thing go. I missed one of my friend's deaths because I wasn't where he died and it hurt strongly for a long time. This is a wonderful poem though and I'd like to see it with that balanced flow and not such a wallup for the reader's (or your) sentiments. Maybe she didn't think you could handle it or he was suffering too much. One is left not knowing after some honest, humorous, touching poetry.
 — unknown

i was left not knowing too.
 — hank

this poem is definately underrated.
 — hank

Please end this at 'Brazil'.   The rest is extraneous piffle, pissing on your joke.
 — unknown

good. yes.
but i wrote it this way and even though you have a Great point.
i can't seem to get myself to change it now.
it's kind of like rewriting history.

it's about truth.
 — hank

and Please, if you are going to leave such great suggestions, leave your fucking name.
 — hank

Go on ...  just DO it.  Cut off the crap.
 — unknown

ha. don't be a pusher. unknown.

reveal yourself and i will.
 — hank

the old man survived that move from L.A.
to the mountains of Colorado
and lived comfortably for two more years
until he just couldn't make it outside
not even to sniff or shit
so my ex-girlfriend had him euthanized
while i was in Brazil.



 — unknown

I reckon you should fix 'birdie' too.

night night
 — Karbonko

nope. i've reread. nope. your wrong. to abrupt.

it is important this poem ends with the two words that it does.
 — hank

what! birdie!
 — hank

i'm flattered you are familiar with my poetry. i'm going over now to read yours.
 — hank

This just came up as random poem - I remember this so well and I remember being inspired enough to write a reply poem. If I can find it again I'll post it for you. I think this must be my fav of yours.

Sam xx (unknown #1)
 — unknown

Oh my god what a laugh and should i be laughing?This is brilliant. If i could give it 20 i would but all i can do is a 10 stick it in my favourites and be mad as hell i didn't write this wonderful wonderful poem.

Larry amazed Lark
 — larrylark

lol...i really feel for the old man in thispoem...but lol..haha some words  are desctructive that emotion....
 — unknown

wow, thanks larry flattery lark.
 — hank

did i ever mention that i think this poem is wonderfully illustrated and achieves a brilliant balance of foreground, middleground and background. the composition is unique and its sense of scale is monumental. the play of light and shadow delights and the application of the medium is aggressive. the choice of subject matter is universal, yet personal, and the overall effect is aesthetically sophisticated?

i'm not sure. i gave it a ten just in case though and put it in my favorites.
 — noodleman

you must have mentioned. i believe i've run across those words before.
 — hank

what words? who are you? where am i?
 — noodleman

you are not in utah
 — hank

i can't seem to get myself to change it now.
it's kind of like rewriting history.

it's about truth.

^this comment would work so well on many of my poems. the ones that are simply observations of what happened. i can't change what happened or what people did even if it wasn't poetic.

this damn rating system wont let me give 11.
 — noodleman

I like the idea of you comparing your dog to a person. Giving him human properties to an extent. Very sad, not too fancy. Moving in a way that doesn't depress. SUPER....I think I will give this a 1, followed by a 0
 — mr_e

more fat ratings for this peom please.
 — noodleman

read hanks poem.
 — noodleman

i said read it now.
 — noodleman

thanks noodle. missed ya.
 — hank

i missed you too but i have lousy aim.
 — noodleman

oh, c'mon,  i've heard your aim is true.
 — hank

alison, elvis has left the building.

 — unknown

good image
i got the know of it at "ear ripped off" ... should have sooner, but ... well ... i am, after all *bloodfetish*, so the snipping of balls didn't tip me off the way it might have others
i like the image you chose for memory -- solitary trips in vehicles bring out the best or beast in all ...
 — Bloodfetish

were you in brazil on a mission?
 — unknown

a mission from god. that is, if god likes cachaca and cheap hookers.
 — ollylama

This is really great.
 — PaperDoll

i never commented on this. the original and the best old man imo. good poem.
 — kaleidazcope

lol I like it !
 — LaLa16

I like it...I think it was a good idea for the girfriend to get a "ex" in front of her after that incident...bitch!  Jes Joke...but not entirly.  Anyways, good poem, keep it up, blah, blah...
 — SaleenDriva

old and vile
 — unknown

 — kitkat

lol, poor stinky old dog?!
 — Kauf

How can anyone give this fatastic poem a 1.I'll tell you why-pure unadulterated jealousy and knowing that they can never write anything one hundredth as good as this.
 — larrylark

shit I keep wanting to cry when i read it
 — kitkat

I gave the poem a 10 so point that finger somewhere else Lark.
 — Kauf

*sniffs and reads over and over again*
 — kitkat

thank you kitty. you ok?
 — hank

ok.  Just want an old man.

Hmm that doesn't sound quite right.
 — unknown

With balls (kitkat) or without ?
 — sir_I_clan

This is good. I love L7, 8 and 9.

It's sad and funny. Very well done poem.
 — DeathShards

How was Brazil?
 — kitkat

brazilians have more passion running through their veins than maybe any others. beautiful place. very rapid sunsets though that close to the equator.
 — hank

hmmm.  no dawn or dusk here either....I miss it actually
 — unknown

where is 'here'?
 — hank

for some reason upon rereading this i am reminded of an andy sumners song. 'she came all wrapped in plastic, all pink and shrivelled down'.
 — hank

How can you compare "old man" to a blow up doll , Are you sick , stoned or just drunk ?
 — sir_I_clan

Are you sick , stoned or just drunk ?

 — noodleman

sorry, that was me...'here' is india.
 — kitkat

Noodle you indian giver , "where is my garlic bread ?"
 — sir_I_clan

last night stoned. today sick. drunk later.
 — hank

 — unknown

Dogs are people too.
 — rattlesnakes

aw, such a nice relationship between dog and master. I wonder how your dad would feel to know you refer to a dog as your old man?

The title, as it is, is descriptive, but something more interesting (with a little contrast to the content) could spice it up.
 — oblivious

so, oblivious. need i say more?
 — hank

and...as i don't refer to my father as 'old man' i should think he'd have no problem with it.
 — hank

tal (caribbean speak to exclaim dismissiveness)
 — hank

Is this a dedication to Morchuis?
 — unknown

put this on top
 — dedication

good piece

I think it would be more powerfull if you got rid of

"to my old man" at the end there.....

 — fdostoev

holy crap. i thought this was about some random old guy, then i thought it was about your father, then i realized it was about a dog, it reminded of me never saying goodbye to my dog. weird poem. good
 — infinity

Wow! This is a very good character portrait.  Your old man sounds like a cool dog? Is it a dog?? It it has rich and realistic story line.  I like the reference of landscape too because it  places the reader in the story. Top notch!
 — Riverwriter2

My god... This may sound bad but it's so much more emotional with it being a dog. (I read it twice, the first thinking, like others, that it was about your dad.)

The last stanza is mind-blowing. (Said while listening to 'you are my sunshine'.)

 — anony

This made me want to cry.
I'm impressed.
 — Krttika

that is SO sad.  I'd have killed that bitch.  Euthanizing animals isn't human...it's megalomanic.

Love your work.  Love Love Love this.  I'm so sorry that happened to you.
 — themolly

humane I meant.

 — themolly

foul language would seem unnecessary here, but the idea is great. i like this. the humor is perfect. it hits.
 — listen

this is just so BELIEVABLE.
  like it.
 — listen

umm, this is one of the few poems that have been best rated that i actually think diserve it...(mostly all you see is poems that r so cliche you'd rather die then read them) so goodjob man
 — crazy

Classy.  Tragic with a touch of humor.  

I made the previous comment before reading your lengthy mastrubation session you called a "self critic".  Very unethical.


 — unknown


 — unknown

yyour poem is too long and I cunt be arsed to read it.
 — unknown

um ok?
 — unknown

What the fuck?! What you smoking man!? Whatever it is, get me somma that, man!
 — unknown

So ggod.
 — winter

don't talk about my father that way
 — unknown

Oh, such a very sad and bittersweet story. I wish your dog well, wherever he is now.
 — joe9068

not bad mate.like it
 — tony

i smoke 40 b&h a day. luckies in south america and spain.
 — hank

for some reason I never read this beyond few lines, now that i did
i'm a fool. very nice. character and voice are right on.
i logged in justto rate it.  
 — crepaway

One day you'll be old, unknown. We all will.
 — Hear

Overrated. Of anecdotal interest. Cigar + cognac. yadayada. Not that fucking great.
 — unknown

You don't have to like it.
 — Hear

thank you hear.
 — hank

coo; poem, if you can read mine called best friend, along the same lines but different, cool tribute to  a  real dawg
 — coodaygraw

this is one of your better ones i think.
in part two you could easily continue to keep the dog/man line
more ambiguous.
L23: how about "killed"?
L21: "outside" -> "out"?
L22: strike "not even to"?

in the end i cant feel that bad.
after all, you got to go to brazil.
a place from which you can easily bring back
more than you might lose back at "home".
what if you just say you were away?
 — unknown

old man larry.
 — hank

well you're a good son, let me get this right, you were in Brazil, place or state of mind? and your ex girlfriend what!!!!!!  why insult our intelligence with this drivel
 — unknown

well idiot, let me set you straight. yes, i was in brazil. in body. you stupid ass.
and my girlfriend euthanized my dog while i was there (in brazil) in case your not following. you stupid ass.

and the reason i insult your intelligence with this stupid drivel is because it's easy and i always take the easy way out (of the paper bag). path of least resistance.
 — hank

lovely read. thank you.
 — unknown

wow, this was fascinating to read. The story made me feel so sorry, the language was lively and to the point. Thanks for sharing. Just read your comment about the dual implication thing, makes it even more brilliant.
 — callingcard

Dear Hank

Got to tell ou again how much i love this wonderful poem

 — larrylark

This was amazing. That's not very nice of your girlfriend though. Perfect poem. Who are you? Poe wouldn't be proud, but other poets would. 10/10 Perfect and crude.
 — Henry

this is really detailed and really sad. good poem. very interesting and detailed to follow.
 — misterpoet

it's not meaningless
that this poem is #1/21,488
on 10/25/06, over two yrs later.  
having released your gas,
 — gnormal

well, as someone who has almost become mad from looking for meaning, can you make up a good lie as to why it isn't 'meaningless'?
 — hank

 — unknown

I like this because of the "everyday way" such a sad story had been told.
 — Nostalgia

 — unknown

needs punctuation...mediocre, but for this site, "good."
 — unknown

good. beat like with a new swing.

i like the subject matter! and am glad to be reading anything that isn't about lovesickness. thank goodness for that.
 — ilenelush

the end of the poem, your sad, but your holding back this sadness, a sort of "whatever, its sad, but I don't want to talk about."
but maybe you should just let the emotion spill.
 — SenorSin

Hi Hank

You should surely know by now that this is my favourite poem i ever read on here. So totally depicting concern and indifference in equal measure. I would treasure an old man if he came within my orbit but in the end  he would suffer from the lassitude of my indifferent soul.

 — larrylark

thank you larry, may you.
 — hank

all in all i did like this, i was actually convinced till the very last 3 lines that it was indeed an old man, i had to go back and reread and it made the poem slightly less disturbing for me. i like it
 — MrFetus

bah, i never commented.
i love this poem.
nice poem, hank.
 — varun

Glad to see this absolute knock out of a poem back where it deserves to be.

Larry top o the world ma Lark
 — larrylark

extremely clever. rock on.
 — lanezfairy

...good poem, but on general premise of voting for yourself 50 times, the 1 is to keep the quality reflectively fair...(but in secret, it's about an 8...a high quality free form dog poem...the poor feller).
 — GoldenGirl

Oh wow, at first I thought this was about a person until I really thought about it and didn't know whether to laugh or to just kind of sit here and think.  This was brilliant.  Good job.
 — painfulcries

good poem
 — jumpoline

fucking morons, if you like this, I don't care if you have been here 4 years, leave! Your no poet.
 — unknown

and this ^^ from someone who doesn't know when to use an apostrophe?!  moron.
 — unknown

I'm not writing a poem dope....where is you caps by the way.
 — unknown

I'm annoyed by the fact that you commented on yourself so often.  One of those things that's funny once, not seventy times.

I'm also annoyed that this is a short story, not a poem.  Tighten the form, delete unnecessary details (there are plenty), and introduce more imagery. 4/10
 — aurelius