The Sparrow and the Veteran – A Poem

This is another poem set at The Way Station for the Afterlife. The first part is not really required to be read as I wrote this as a more stand alone piece, but if interested you can find the first part:


If I should write more with this setting I may create a page for it for easier reference.


The Sparrow and the Veteran

A sparrow of a girl brings me my coffee in the morning.
I prefer to keep the lights low in my room
but against my protests she will always open the drapes
to allow
the cold sunlight in.

“The Veteran has passed,” she tells me
and I feel unprepared
to hear the news
dressed as I am
still in my pajamas.


“This morning.”

He lived in the room next to mine.
A respectable neighbor
clean-shaven and well-trimmed.

We drank together on occasion
usually Scotch
and he would tell me about his vacations
in Switzerland
and the hikes he would take there in summer.
He enjoyed watching the reflection of the mountains
in the lakes’ cool waters.

That is too bad.


She sits at the foot of my bed
and I admire how the sunlight strikes her long nose
how the shadows lengthen
under her eyes
as she looks down to examine her hands.
She rubs her thin fingers

“Are you a painter?” she asks.

No, I was a journalist.

“Is that how you knew the Veteran?
You were a
during the war?”

No. I never met the man until I came here.
I covered sports.
Mostly baseball.

The Veteran never spoke about the war to me
except once
three days ago in his room.
Bartholomew the cat sat on the window sill
and outside the clouds were
purple and jagged.
He said that he was a captain.
That he had served with distinction.
And that he was sure as shit
he was going to hell.

Pour me a Scotch. For the Veteran.

She grabs the bottle and a glass from my desk
sits down next to me
expertly measures out my serving.
Hands me the glass.
I drink while she combs out my hair with her nimble fingers.
I take one of her hands.
Scrutinize it to her bashful
There are callouses.

How did you come to work here Tessa?

My Sparrow Girl.

“Rosa is my aunt.”

Rosa is the owner and proprietor at
The Way Station for the

Tessa Sparrow lays down
her head in the crook of my arm
my free hand coming to rest on the narrow of her back.
She is warm
and tense.
I’m filled with an unorthodox ease
listening to her breathe.

Bartholomew comes in
and jumps up on the bed.
He finds a place to rest by our legs
Sparrow Girl’s over mine
which are still underneath the covers.

“You just seem like a painter.
You have the
of one.”

From down the hall
the ringing of bells
begins to sound.

Did you know the Veteran well?

“No. But he was kind to me.
His heart always had a
foreign type of courtesy. You know?
It just all seems
so unfair.”

That is because it is.
All of it.

Her heart flutters
and the wind picks up outside
rattling the window
blowing sand and clay
with no caution.



8 thoughts on “The Sparrow and the Veteran – A Poem

  1. Sparrow Girl really came alive via your words, Joe. And I admire how you incorporated the dialogues into the poem. Would I get to know more about this Veteran? As it stands, the piece is intriguing with a wonderful prospect — that is, if it is continued beyond this. But then, I can’t decide for you. I also admire the poem in its current form.

    • Thank you Uzoma! There may be more there about the Veteran if I write more about the Way Station, but for this piece I wanted to keep him vauge. I feel he is a vauge figure overall, though, so should there be future writings I think they would not be too revealing. At least concerning him. But who knows. And I am glad you liked the dialog as it is a form I liked exploring and writing.

  2. As I believe I said on the earlier “Way Station” piece, I absolutely love this concept Joseph. Please do write more. I can see a huge amount of narrative potential in this place, with these characters, and the “vagueness” is well-suited to your poetic style. It feels right.

      • Thank you Johnny! It was your encouragement (as well as others) to continue to write under this venue that inspired me to do so. I appreciate that very much. I do have another installment I am working on now, but it is still in very rough shape. Thank you for taking the time to comment as I know you are extremely busy with the restaurant which I hope is doing well.

      • It is always worthwhile to share words on a shared passion. Your work here is deep and rich. I have also pasted Gomorrah into my Instapaper so hopefully will be able to work my way through the whole thing soon. I look forward to reading it when time permits.

  3. I could stay here all night and read your poetry. Alas, my creditors would not be too happy with me………

    Thanks for letting me camp out in your blog for a little while today. I had a great time and tried to leave my campsite as good as when I arrived. I’ll be back!

    • I would hate for my writing to be responisble for sending someone to collections! But I am happy you enjoyed them. Thank you very much for stopping by, reading, and commenting. I appreciate it very much!

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