Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Contest: Join the Party!

As you know, next week we kick off the book signing tour for The Sartorialist: Closer, and we’re starting off the festivities with a little private party at Danziger Gallery in New York, generously underwritten by Coach. But it wouldn’t be a party without having one of you there. (Stay tuned for information on the public signing on September 7!)

 

So, today we’re starting a little contest. We’re posting three photographs that could make a great story. In 200 words or less, write a story in the comments inspired by the photograph. We’ll pick one winning story from among the three photographs and invite that person to the opening party.

 

The party will be the evening of September 5. Coach will provide a hotel room for the winner and a guest at the Hotel Americano, and a bag of their choosing from the Legacy collection.

 

We’ll announce the winner on Tuesday morning, and look forward to seeing you Wednesday night!

 

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182 comments

  1. Chris Smith

    August 30, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    Powerful image I will be emailing my story to your contact email.
    http://www.stylishendeavors.com

    • Alyssa | The Sartorialist

      August 30, 2012 at 4:02 pm

      Hi Chris – leave your story in the comments!

  2. Carlos Rivero

    August 30, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    Walking against de shadows the weight of fifty years lets the mind of those how see behind his every step a continuous landscape of wisdom.

    Our vision is in two colors due to our lack of understanding but the world from his eyes is colorful, joyful, and happy.
    He knows the way and the destiny, we only can speculate where he goes or went. So much to tell and so mysterious at the same time.

    Only one photogram, only one step, only one side of the story in just one shoot.

  3. Soraya Pierre

    August 30, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    been living in the neighboorhood for years , probably a jazz musician on his way for his routine afternoon walk.

  4. Chris Smith

    August 30, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    Sartorialist Photo Contest
    Nameless Man

    By: Christopher Smith

    After 40 years of playing his trumpet, what better way to end it than at a small venue in “The City Of Dreams,” New York City. His particular dream started in Harlem, after travelling the country with failed group after failed group, he never made it to the big stages. More passion, fire and determination were born after the death of each group. He played his trumpet for whomever he could, whenever he could. Small clubs, back alleys and local get-togethers were his crowds, and he loved every minute of it. No one ever learned his name and he never gave a single autograph. Not one moment of stardom but he loved the life he lived, playing music was all he loved. So as this nameless musician goes into the Harlem Night, never to play to a crowd again, just know he loved every minute of it.

  5. Diane

    August 30, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    Turning around, head hung low, I walked. The sound of my shoes beating a lazy shuffling melody against the concret sidewalk. Completely amazed momentarily at the slowness of the cracks disappearing beneath my soles and I wondered. How had this happened, when did it change, where had I been, where am I now and I still wondered , a word full of possibility, negative, positive, you can set the tone, No matter how much I pondered these questions the answers eluded me. Dry air filled my lungs with every breath, shuffling feet lifting dust off the street, for what seemed like eternity my body’s ungainly gait, moved forward, now in a somewhat creaky melody. How long has it been, a n hour a day a week – a month, a year

  6. Anonymous

    August 30, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    “Oh Ollie! Did you make a mess again? I just washed you last night!” said Harriet; a 2nd shift nursing assistant who puts in overtime with her uncle. Ollie has Parkinson’s and isn’t always in full control of his body. Since returning from the Korean war he’s been a father-figure for Harriet and her sisters but now finds himself mentally locked in from disease. Ollie groans and turns his head toward the window while Harriet changes his trousers. “I gotta go. I’ma turn on this TV and check on you in a bit.” says Harriet. He hears and understands but says nothing. Rather he looks outside at the streets of Harlem and remembers why he moved there after the war. He sees the current landscape of concrete, ripped advertisements and aged buildings, but feels the excitement and electricity of Harlem before the riots. Ollie’s mind is much more present than the world knows. His body too. Everyday or so, when the sun is high in the the midday, Harriet finds her way to work. That’s when Ollie finds his way out. He walks the streets of Harlem, seeing the present, feeling the past, unaware and unafraid of the future.

  7. David

    August 30, 2012 at 5:21 pm

    He used to dance. They used to dance. He used to do a lot of things; fish, catch a fly ball, play the trumpet, albeit poorly, but dancing had always been something he could do well. It had been 53 years almost to the day since their first dance and 15 years, give or take, since their last.

    As he walked down the sullied block for the thousandth time, he tried to remember what she looked like the first time he danced with her. Her almost black hair fixed with the red comb that nearly perfectly matched the stain of her lips; the stockings she wore with the seams perfectly centered to her well-formed legs, alluringly tapering down to a well worn pair of patent leather pumps known from that day on as her “dancing shoes.” The smell of white flowers.

    He approached the step that belonged to them for a lifetime now and looked down at the small parcel tied with butcher’s twine held firmly in his right hand. She loved that red comb and she used to love to dance. That was a long time ago now, but tonight they would dance.

  8. Diane Black

    August 30, 2012 at 5:21 pm

    Uniform of the street
    A man of many seasons
    Keep moving along

  9. Erika Johns

    August 30, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    In Heaven- I am an old Black man.
    My teeth look so white, because my skin is so dark.
    My feet, stuffed in shoes, are pink on the sole
    And my palms are pink from clapping.
    My blood is red from loving hard;
    My laughter is as hot as the sidewalk.
    And I have a swagger, a skip, a coolness to my step.
    There are children in my heart,
    They are singing, chanting, dancing.
    The sweat is dripping, flying to the corners of the universe.

    But here- I am a white woman.
    My teeth look so yellow, because my skin is so pale.
    And I don’t have shoes on.
    Now, right now, I am looking at a photo of an old black man..
    The man I will be in Heaven.

    • Susana

      August 30, 2012 at 9:31 pm

      Love it! Beautifully written and very poignant! :)
      Good luck!

      xo,
      Susana
      http://www.akeytothearmoire.com

      • Erika Johns

        September 4, 2012 at 3:09 pm

        Thank you Susana.. I appreciate your kindness. Congratulations on winning!

    • Sevan

      August 31, 2012 at 7:20 am

      I was moved to tears reading your story.
      You write beautifully, with your heart.
      Good luck !

      • Erika

        September 4, 2012 at 3:10 pm

        Thanks so much. It means a lot to me that my story moved you…

    • adrianna

      August 31, 2012 at 2:21 pm

      I love it!

    • Bex_Bagan

      August 31, 2012 at 6:23 pm

      so beautiful, good luck! I think you should definitely win this one!

    • nini

      August 31, 2012 at 9:02 pm

      so touching & deep!
      i loved the way you integrated yourself in it.
      Good luck Erika!

      • Rebecca

        September 3, 2012 at 12:26 pm

        I really like so many of the entries…but there is just something really beautiful about this… :)

        • Erika

          September 4, 2012 at 3:11 pm

          Thanks to all of you for your kind words, you have inspired me to write more!

  10. Sevan

    August 30, 2012 at 5:40 pm

    As I said about this great b/w photto, it reminds me of a documentary on PBS : Jazz, by Ken Burns.
    I can see him play blues on his guitar or the trumpet, on his front porch in Louisiana with a group of friends.
    I’m going to enjoy reading all the stories in the comments !

  11. SM

    August 30, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    I’ll have to think about this,….
    http://untrucoudeux.wordpress.com/

  12. Just Another Blog Junkie

    August 30, 2012 at 6:13 pm

    His memories of her smile and laughter carried him from Marble Cemetery. He could feel her adjusting his collar, whispering in his ear how he always looked the best in the shirts she made. He felt her swirl around him, and his shoes, the same shoes she polished every morning for him and set by the fire place carried him into his dancing lead, dipping her delicate face back into the summer sun. The same shoes his friend Giovanni tailored fit to his feet thirty years ago in his cobbler shop in Brooklyn. The shop where on hot summer days like these, they sat outside on foot stools and drank grappa late into the evening while he played accordion and set out his plaid hat for change. The same change that he would drop into his worn pockets, patched by his wife. The same pockets in which his soft hand rests in now. These were the memories that he carried home. These are the hand crafted memories he lives in each day. This is the photo you carry.

  13. Susan Leslie

    August 30, 2012 at 6:20 pm

    What a day. Hot hurried with tempers flaring, I leave that all behind me now. Missy says “It’s arrived.” I can’t believe it. I can’t wait. The celebrating that’s going on in our house tonight will be like no other. It’s happened, he always said it would. I should never have doubted it. He’s stubborn, hard headed and always gets his way.

    I thought maybe he’s getting ahead of himself, too sure, too confident. But isn’t that how he’s done it all of his life. He sees things differently than Missy and I ever did. I didn’t understand it and sometimes I was damn frightened that he was wasting his time and his talent on a dream that could never be. But Missy wouldn’t have it. “Leave him alone” she’d say “He’ll find his own way, I know he will.” I’ll be damned she was right. He has done it. I couldn’t be prouder. Our son published.

    God works in mysterious ways.

  14. MBP

    August 30, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    He had been taken up from Mobile when he was four or five, but Mr. Jack Frazier didn’t remember a time not living in this city. Of course, most of the Village was unrecognizable now. It seemed like every other week another of the old places was closing or maybe being redone. But Jack had been around long enough to know, things never did and never do stay the same. Jazz, beats, peaceniks, punk rock, all come and gone. Wishing for the past never made much sense as far as he could tell. And Frank would already be waiting for him at the board in Tompkins Square, and the thought of giving that man any other reason to get up on his high horse, well he wasn’t going to let that happen. No sir, not today.

  15. Sarah

    August 30, 2012 at 7:14 pm

    The things I´ve seen. Wonders.
    The things I´ve done. Realities.
    The things I may do. Unknowns.

    I know this road because I´ve lived on this road. I´ve seen things on this road; I´ve done things on this road. What entices me to walk this road is not only tradition, it is the unknowns. The maybes, the unwrittens. I will keep walking this road, in anticipation for the things I may see, the things I might do.

    I will walk until the day my eyes decide they have seen enough and my heart decides I have done enough. I will walk until I am fulfilled. Until then I walk.

  16. De Ann Steinhorst

    August 30, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    Walk with Mary

    Aww Mary, it’s a good day for sure.. I have to take a minute to stop by the newsstand and check on my old friend Tony. Remember his Emma was sickly? Folks say she may of taken a turn for the worse. Let’s say a prayer for her Mary. I think I’ll tell him a joke to lighten the heart. Say.. remember the one about the two Englishmen? Oh did you laugh that beautiful laugh! Your smile… well it lit up the sky like a million fireflies on a moonless night. Yes.. I’ll tell him that one. And I’ll stop by the store and congratulate Carma on her new grand baby girl. Ha.. I wonder if she’ll grow to be as righteous and joyous as her great grammy.. Now wouldn’t that be something. Say.. Isn’t she having a birthday herself this month? You were always the one to keep track of all those important things.. Aww I miss you my Mary. Put in a good word for me today my angel. I’ll see you in my dreams.. Aww my beautiful Mary. It’s a good day indeed.

    • princessglee

      September 2, 2012 at 4:02 pm

      I like the story a lot.

  17. Dishpaul S. Dhuga

    August 30, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    I was born in this town. I grew up in this neighborhood. I got my first job here. I met my wife here. I had two children here. I’ve been unemployed here. My children left me here to start their own lives. My wife left me here after passing away from cancer. I’ve walked this neighborhood for over 75 years, and I’ve never looked back.

  18. Ashley Benson

    August 30, 2012 at 8:18 pm

    My granddaddy sits in the barbershop chair in Lynnville, TN, getting his hair trimmed by the town’s barber & mayor. A black man opens the screen door, and he is old and moves slow because it’s August and the heat sits around them all like melted clotted cream. His shirtsleeves are rolled up but his hat is still on, despite it.

    “Can I have a Coca-Cola?” he asks. The man is drunk, and my granddaddy knows it because the general store is next door.

    “Excuse me, James,” the mayor says, and puts down his scissors. He brings the man inside, writes him a ten dollar fine for public drunkenness, and sends him back down the street to the farm where he works.

    “He’s doing nobody no harm,” he tells my granddaddy, before picking up his scissors again.

  19. Doreen W Ramirez

    August 30, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    Like that Puerto Rican coffee in the morning. Yes sir, it gets my juices flowing. A walk, a smoke and morning constitutional. It’s all good.
    Wednesday afternoon, make tracks uptown to the theater. Been workin there for some 32 years now. I take the bus.
    All those flashlights ain’t gonna put batteries in themselves! Folks don’t even know ’bout that stuff. Lot of things folks don’t know ’bout. New , fresh batteries to light the way in the theater for every performance. Imagine that ! I take good care of them folks.

  20. EGOTIST

    August 30, 2012 at 9:12 pm

    Lefty was always a soft touch with the ladies.

    For 49 years he left the General Store at 6 O’Clock on the dot, walked down Market Street toward his old Victorian home. Betty, his one and only, was standing in the kitchen, waiting for him to saunter in. “Hey baby. How was your day?” He asked softly, kissing her on the cheek. Her eyes twinkled as they turned up to him.

    Since Betty passed away, a few years back, the nights’ve been a bit longer, the walks a little slower. But he still made the trip every day. Back and forth between his little store and that beautiful old house. And don’t think that young thing, Miss Claire, from down the road, who’s barely fifty-five this fall, hasn’t snatched a few peeks of him as he passes by her place. Lord knows she’s probably putting on a dress right now, so she can be out there watering the lillies when he passes.

  21. C. Miranda

    August 30, 2012 at 9:26 pm

    Hi! first time leaving a comment…i don’t know if there’s other way to sent my story, so…
    STEPS
    …One…two…three…four…
    We keep on dragging our feet on the pavement, on this endless hustle…and my bones, old, impregnated with cane’s smell, even yet, with sun that rejects winter … five … five minutes, one fifty-five, how many times have I watched the clock?, many, perhaps too much.
    Waiting, always waiting… and going on, at the end, it’s the only thing we have left: keep on moving, waiting for coming back … six … time, leisurely, makes blurred our memories, far away childhood, suddenly, takes a walk, it comes back, abrupt… cycling, how wonderful it was, cycling between my people, my city, that beautiful and musical Havana, full of laughs and misery … seven … ¡What a laugh, my God!, dance and aromas, of telling stories… eight, hurry up … it’s just homesickness what makes me slower, yearn, vanished identity.
    Nine … and take a walk, go for a walk with no direction through the streets, look at the floor, remember, and go on.
    Ten…And I’m just the Exiled Man, who was pulled out of his roots, the weaver of dreams, who count steps on this dry floor that is so, so strange for me.

    • Maria (from Cambridge)

      August 31, 2012 at 10:26 pm

      Wow…moves me to tears. so many really good stories for this one picture Scott. But Thank you C. Miranda, this one is especially touching.

    • Sevan

      September 2, 2012 at 1:21 pm

      This story makes me think of the Buena Vista Social Club.
      Beautiful and touching.
      Good luck C.Miranda.

      • c. Miranda

        September 5, 2012 at 9:43 pm

        Thanks so much both, is really comforting to know that someone understood it…i was so scared because i don’t write in english, ajjajaaj, i’ve literally never done this before c:

  22. kate

    August 30, 2012 at 9:30 pm

    spectacular

  23. Rami

    August 30, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    His gait was lilting; he was no longer the confident man strutting about that I remembered. He still wore the same plaid hat and shiny black work shoes, however. Different iterations, but the overall uniform was the same.
    Mr. Tally was an institution in my old neighborhood. In those days, the children playing outside (me included) would call out to him,
    “Hey Mr. Tally! Wanna join us?” He would respond good-naturedly, “No kids, not today! On my way to the malt shop!”
    Mr. Tally loved his job. I would visit him at the malt shop every day, and continued to do so until I graduated from the local college. He had seen me through it all.
    Mr. Tally told me for years that he wore a similar outfit everyday so that people would believe he was consistent and trustworthy. “My boss can always count on me!” He’d say happily.
    That day, the last day I saw him, Mr. Tally was fired for supposedly stealing money out of the cash register. I knew it could not be true, but Mr. Tally was much too proud to protest.
    I watched him walk away from me for the last time, in style.

  24. Tat

    August 30, 2012 at 10:06 pm

    Entry.

    You go your way, I will go your way too.

    I will let you walk ahead of me just so I don’t have to be the one left behind. The safety pins on your pants become what secures my future. I fall behind only to better understand the composure of who you are. There is a silence to where it is that you come from.

    I do not need to hear you speak, nor do I need to memorize your face, although I have put to memory your gait and the way that the lines of your shirt fall slightly past your shoulder. Brave enough to be who you are, you set your shadow free.

    I have become the recipient of the knowing, just as you have become the subject of my imagination.

  25. Tat

    August 30, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    A heart felt congratualtions. Thank you for capturing the beauty and essence of life with your photographs.

  26. NSB

    August 30, 2012 at 10:21 pm

    I blink, and visions form on the backs of my eyelids: familiar faces I encountered on my strolls down this avenue, older cars and fewer of them crowding the street, even the once-fresh cracks in the sidewalk. How long has that wall been painted so? Here my younger eyes caught a middle-aged, white man in a bright, thick collared shirt with rolled sleeves and a pair of old black shoes that had worn at the edges with time but seemed immaculately maintained—a working-class man in middle-class colors; a small immigrant boy with imperfect teeth and striking eyes selling cigarettes, candy, or the day’s papers who had a tuft of messy hair peeking out from the bottom of his favorite folded plaid cap; and a tall, young woman bold enough to wear a thin belt and trousers with her more conventional designer bag, heeled pumps, and crimson lips. I recall looking in the mirror this morning before I walked out the door and how I smiled at the harmony between those shades of memory—those precious threads of experience!—I observed in my reflection. I open my eyes. This path is old, but the moment is new.

  27. Wilfredo Peña

    August 30, 2012 at 10:42 pm

    What day is it today? It might as well be Saturday. Where does- the time go? I remember reaching…does it even matter anymore. Probably not old man. What’s important is that I have a tuna fish sandwich lunch date with MaryAnn. She used to be such a fox and now she’s…we were so close and all because of-shoot! I was a handsome man too, but I had my fun in France. Have the medals to show for it too. All these young hipsters don’t know the real cool.

    What day is it today? It might as well be Saturday. MaryAnn said she would definitely come today. She’s been putting me off since….

  28. TRK

    August 30, 2012 at 10:51 pm

    [This story is about all three photographs.]

    When they finally came it wasn’t like in the movies: no vast discs hovering over cities; no chaos or war. Instead they hid quietly, and called us to them one by one. Moved by reasons we could not explain, we went: the aged, slow and determined in their tattered, honest clothes, shuffling in the evening glow toward empty piers along the river; the young, as if to new jobs, energetic and hopeful but not yet secure, speeding toward deserted old buildings at the foot of the city; the well-heeled—confident, beautiful, haughty—striding through the falling snow toward empty ballrooms in the gathering dusk of a winter afternoon. When we arrived we stood, apparently alone, and they studied us. They said they came not (as we had feared) to conquer but rather to understand. Unique among the species of the Universe, we, although tied deeply to each other, delighted in our differing selves, and sought to show them on our sleeves: given a hat or a shawl or a pair of shoes, we alone found ways to use what might have been instruments of sameness to set ourselves apart. After our encounters, they left. But soon after astronomers detected for the first time a star pirouetting in the sky; and the next morning the stores sold out of shoe polish and double-sided tape.

    • Sevan

      August 31, 2012 at 1:59 pm

      Bravo !

  29. Poppy Keane

    August 30, 2012 at 10:52 pm

    I came up from Osceola, Arkansas in ’58.
    I had two uncles, Sugar Boy and Tiny that had come North in ’54. We all had set out from the Delta because it wasn’t nothing left there. At least all the blacks folks was heading North but plenty of white came too, all looking for work. Sugar Boy and Tiny went to Detroit and then got ‘dem jobs with Ford. ‘Round ’bout ’62 or ’63 I had near 8 relatives working in Motor city. But by that time I had already had a little taste of New York and it was sweet. I wasn’t leaving New York, uh uh, oh no.
    I was living up in Harlem, it was beautiful in those days. That’s back when folks used to dress right and look good. I wasn’t thinking ’bout what was to come like some of my other folks. I just took whatever job was available and did the work. I worked construction. I worked the docks when I first come up. Back then a black man couldn’t get in the dockworkers union. It was the Irish, the Italians and the Polish.
    Anyway, I got a good job as a Super. I had me a building on 91st and Amsterdam. I raised my three chil’ren working hard jobs.
    Young folks today can’t even spell “work”.
    Money is got to be made and bills got to be paid, that’s what I always say.
    I’m 76 and still working.

    • j'ecris

      August 31, 2012 at 7:53 pm

      A very long time ago, two elderly black men played important roles in my life, and I came to love them both. They’ve been gone a long time now, but I can hear the cadence of their voices, sense the quiet wisdom of their words in your story. Their memories, their acceptance of life’s demands, their pride in doing a job well–even their delight in scolding younger generations–are all here. It’s a beautiful piece of work, Poppy, and I thank you for it.

  30. Suzy

    August 30, 2012 at 10:54 pm

    I always closed shop on Mondays. I would go for few drinks, read, or take the lady out somewhere. When we were kids, we spent a lot of time running around Coney Island, but the area really went downhill in the 60s. I suppose they have made a lot of improvements since then, but of course, it is not what it used to be.
    We still live in the same apartment from when we came to the City for college. The rent was cheap, and this was the most vibrant part of Manhattan. Lois tells me that Warhol used to live 2 blocks down, but I have never seen him. I left my publishing job when I was drafted, and Lois taught the piano to make ends meet. In ’76, I got a small space a few streets away and opened shop. I love old books and had enough sense to make a living out of it. We never moved.
    The shop is empty now, and I just handed over the keys. The guy seemed bright, but I gotta say, if he ever wants to impress the right girl, the youngster should learn how to wear his pants correctly.

    • Jesse

      September 3, 2012 at 12:31 pm

      Cute! :)

  31. Connor

    August 30, 2012 at 11:06 pm

    He was my protector, my teacher, my warden, my councilor, my coach, my friend. He was my grandpa and he’s been gone for many years. It’s strange how certain memories of those special people never seem to fade—but how their features begin to soften over time. I can no longer remember the shape of his eyes or the curve of his nose but I remember some of the things he did; the pants he wore too high no matter how many times I made fun of him; the way he’d hold his hands like he was smoking a cigarette even though he hadn’t smoked in 20 years; the slumped shoulders he used to say were from giving me too many piggyback rides; the hat he never left the apartment without; and the little hard candies he always had in his front right pocket.

    Although he died years ago I still see him walking down the street sometimes, never his face, only his back as he walks away. I stop and watch as he gets lost in the crowd. I leave strengthened by the knowledge that part of the best man I ever knew lives on in me.

  32. Christine

    August 30, 2012 at 11:28 pm

    He was hunched over so that his chin almost grazed his chest. He turned to me and asked if I had any change to spare. I shook my head; I didn’t have a penny. He didn’t look homeless. His clothes and skin were not stained with the dirt of the New York City streets. Though his pants were too short, and still too big. They were clearly made for another man—a stout, round man. They would have fallen off his bony hips had it not been for an old piece of rope he was using as a belt. The rope was laced through some of the belt loops, except for in the back where his pants were all torn. His shoes were almost as shiny as the sparkle in his eyes. And his hat, it gave him more character than his cavity-filled teeth. I would have given him the world if I could, but hell I can barely do better myself.

  33. N.M.

    August 30, 2012 at 11:29 pm

    No mere mortal, the man walking that street is divinity; it hangs on him, the weight of divinity. He feels as if he has wasted divinity. “How have I worn so deep? How have these clothes become so tattered?” A life lived at the end of a chisel. A life covered in callouses for all the necessary reasons. Working hard is no waste of divinity, but often a man feels like work is his reason to live. What a puzzle.

  34. Payne Fulcher

    August 30, 2012 at 11:53 pm

    I am walking down the street between black and white. My pants are between black and white, the sky is between black and white, my hat is between black and white, the birds are between black and white, the street lamps are between black and white, my memories are between black and white, the bodegas, and the men who work them like shepherds in need of their flocks, are between black and white, the sidewalk is between black and white, the bugs among the fossils beneath the sidewalk are between black and white, my heart beats between black and white, my face says to all the people passing on the street that I am somewhere between black and white, the heels of my shoes root and tear away from the concrete in a fashion that is between black and white, while the train passing by overhead makes a sound that is between black and white, and when I stop on the corner to check the time on my wrist, it tells me that it is now somewhere between black and white.

  35. Jenny

    August 31, 2012 at 12:19 am

    Ever since Harlem became trendy again I have been wearing this ridiculous beret like some goddamn Gustave! My wife absolutely insists on it. She says it makes me look twenty years younger which I guess means it hides my baldness or something. Even my barber makes fun of me! At least she has not made me stop smoking too. Everyone needs a vice…afterall what would we all be living for if not our own pleasure?

  36. jimmy

    August 31, 2012 at 12:39 am

    He told himself he’d just go to the corner, around the block maybe, glance in a few likely windows, see some people who might know. Not that he’d ask anything they weren’t telling: If she didn’t want to see him, that was alright. But if she saw him–even if it was from a window, Julia’s window maybe, she was probably staying there, they’d been as tight as two gangly girls in plaid school skirts can be, and in Julia’s window a silhouette hovered against the curtain, and he looked up until his eyes slipped out from under the brim’s shadow, and when the silhouette suddenly vanished he knew, for she was given to sudden movements, he’d never felt anything as sudden as her first kick against Ruth’s stomach–he wanted her to know he was doing fine, shirt crisp, shoes bright. And he wanted her to know something more; something that needed words, corny words like: I Love You. Without words, the hat would have to do, but hats aren’t a language many people understand. Even the hat store lady hadn’t understood; she’d eyed the fraying plaid skirt and said, “You really want a hat made out of this?”

  37. Kim

    August 31, 2012 at 12:53 am

    This photo reminds me of my father after my mother died.
    I noticed my father was walking with his head down. His eyes were no longer looking at my mother walking next to him.

    My father no longer had a reason to walk in hurry to bring back a hot coffee and breakfast sandwich from McDonald every morning. My mother’s favorite meal of the day. In return, my mother let my father go fishing. My father’s favorite time of the day.
    My father did not go fishing for whole one year after my mother died.

    It’s been five years since my mother died. I am happy to say he no longer walks by
    himself. He walks with someone special. But in my heart I see a shadow of this picture in his walk .

    • Kelly

      September 3, 2012 at 12:33 am

      Thanks. This moved me.

  38. Simbarashe

    August 31, 2012 at 12:54 am

    She always forgets the okra.
    I tell her every time she makes the Sunday breakfast,
    e’ry time before the church house,
    I tell her,
    Margie, when you make the biscuits, the grits, the ham,
    don’t forget the okra! And what does she do? “
    E’ry Sunday, before the church house,
    she forgets the okra!
    Fifty-somethin’ odd years of forgetting the okra.
    Except this one time. See, I’d gotten myself in this car jam
    in a ditch on a drive up from Georgia some odd June afternoon.
    I was stuck in that ditch for damn near sixteen hours,
    almost died from the heat, no water,
    just the blesses from the Good Lord.
    Kids.
    Your toys,
    and your knickknacks
    and your cell phones—
    WE DIDN’T HAVE NO CELL PHONES BACK THEN.
    They had to peel me outta that car, tow it up the bank,
    I didn’t get back for another day and a half.
    Greyhound.
    Poor Margie, she was so worried that that next morning,
    Monday—
    She fixed the biscuits, the grits, the ham,
    and I forgot all about the okra.
    But she didn’t.
    One day. In fifty-somethin’ odd years.

    • Nana

      August 31, 2012 at 12:17 pm

      me likes

  39. Jacqueline

    August 31, 2012 at 1:06 am

    Contest submission:

    He may not look like much, shuffling around in his torn trousers and plaid cap, but everyone in New York City should be jealous of Raymond.

    Raymond and his wife, Lola, moved into a two-bedroom apartment on Spring Street in 1967. A year later, Raymond stood in the extra bedroom, painting it a pale blue for his new son. He was so sure it was a boy that he even bought a baseball mitt. Raymond and Lola ended up having three girls before he got his son, but Raymond kept the room blue.

    By 1995, still in the same apartment, Raymond’s children had all moved out. One was in college, another was a struggling actress, and two were already married.

    By Thanksgiving in 2000, Raymond’s two-bedroom apartment on Spring Street with the same blue room was host to the four children, their spouses, and eleven grandchildren. The next day Raymond dug out his son’s old mitt and played catch with his oldest grandson. It was one of the happiest days of Raymond’s life.

    So why should everyone be jealous of Raymond? Well, his apartment was rent-stabilized and by 2012, he was still paying $105 a month.

  40. Fredrick

    August 31, 2012 at 1:25 am

    I barely noticed him as he shuffled by, the sound of his worn torn socks caught my eye and I wondered about the rumpled shirt soiled with age, and the trousers they’d seen better days, yet somehow it all worked together, I was amazed. As I took a second look I noticed the cap, nice I thought, I’ll have to get one just like that. Then it came to me clear as a bell, the shoeless gentlemen would never tell. No further thought was considered by me. I jumped to my feet and ran down to meet the shoeless gentlemen strolling the street. I stopped him cold there in his tracks, gave him my shoes and said can’t take ‘em back. Thank you he said and that was the end of the brief moment spent with my new friend.

  41. Vicki Fields

    August 31, 2012 at 1:39 am

    This blog tacked the real essence of life right from the pictures to the message. There is more to life than what we think of or what we see, as it is said ti is neither a bed of roses or a carpet of thorns.

  42. Stacey Sweeney

    August 31, 2012 at 1:42 am

    And this is what we call the beauty of life, it does not necessary depend on how happy you are. It all depends on how happy others are and how you have inspire them, the man in the photo is quite an inspiration to many.

  43. Tammara Shelley

    August 31, 2012 at 2:36 am

    Grandpa loves the streets… I could see every bit of it as he walked down the NY streets and I couldn’t help but have a caption on the same.

  44. Nana

    August 31, 2012 at 2:40 am

    This picture tells a story, which in my mind is sung by a resurrected John Lee Hooker or Robert Johnson:

    Darlin’ been a long time now
    Darlin’ been a long time now
    Darlin’ been a long time now

    You’ve been gone too long

    If you don’t walk through that door
    My heart won’t take it no mo’

    Cause darlin’ you been gone too long

    Been lookin’ through the streets
    searched every cornerstore
    have I done you wrong

    Cause darlin’ you done gone

    Can’t even sleep at night
    My mind won’t carry on
    Have I done you wrong

    Darlin’ please come home

    • Sevan

      August 31, 2012 at 6:10 pm

      Great words for blues. I can hear the music.

      • Nana

        September 13, 2012 at 6:22 pm

        Hi Sevan, thanks for the kind words!
        This was a fun experience. Despite the fact that I did not win, which would’ve been exciting, it was delightful to read all the stories, and to take a peak at other writing styles.
        You guys should consider doing contests like this one more often, it brings out the creative side of your readers, which I think gives way to a great exchange of creativity (give-give instead of give-take if you will) ! And it was nice to see something other than “love her dress” or “wouldn’t dare wear these shorts with these shoes!” in the comments section!
        So thanks again, it was a great idea which is highly appreciated!

  45. Tayyeb Munawar

    August 31, 2012 at 4:02 am

    I opened my eyes and there he was, strolling away with one hand in his pocket. That unmistakable ivy cap, the silence that glided his every carefree step – it had to be him! I could sense his gaze absently following the crevices in the pavement, his mind engrossed deep in his thoughts – ‘dreams’ as he so fondly called his departures. Cars, signboards, posters on the walls – everything dissolved and ebbed freely past him. The folded hems of his linen trousers danced around his striding ankles. I looked at myself and realised he was only a few feet away! A surge of emotions broke through the pit inside me culminating only to my mouth moving to form words but no sound evading it. A tear trickled down my right eye. Wiping it away I prepared for a second try. He, oblivious of my presence, kept drifting away timelessly, his soft shadow obediently following his every move.
    “Dad!” I finally succeeded. The sound resonated within me and beyond. He stopped instantly and then turned around his hand still in his pocket. It was him! He smiled.
    “Dad I’ve missed you.” The words escaped my mouth. He drew his hand out from the pocket and clasped around his frail fingers was a remnant of mine he had carried throughout his life. A rusted old timepiece I had gifted him from my very first salary. “You’re with me” he said softly.
    My eyes opened. I wanted to dream again.

    • Sevan

      August 31, 2012 at 2:45 pm

      Beautiful. Your story moved me.

  46. Aliké

    August 31, 2012 at 4:18 am

    I feel like I should be taking a smoke break…but I don’t smoke. Willie do, tho’. Well he did. I guess not anymore. How long’s he been gone now? Mm, 9, 10 years? No, it’s been more than that…In this heat, I can’t reckon no dates. It’s just that hot. Shoot, they may find an ol’ man laid out in these here streets if it don’t cool off soon. I tell you what though, I’m gon’ walk myself right over here, into this here shade ’til this sun calms down.
    We spent a looooot a time together, Sun. A lot a time. Heh. Ol’ timer. A lot a places too! We done had some real good years, you and me. But a man ain’t what he used to. So, listen close, ya gotta cut back on them rays. It’s just me; my bones, my flesh, these clothes on my back. And my hat. Never without my hat. I’ma stay out here just the same, ‘cuz I came out to get away. Only, you makin’ things worse. Just like a woman…

  47. T G Ferguson

    August 31, 2012 at 4:19 am

    As a young man, my Granddad loved his clothes. In the 20′s in Harlem everyone loved their clothes. And it was “great.” He would tell me about going out in the evenings to dance the night away, to the horns and melodies of Mr Ellington and the tight rhythms of the Count. They were his favorites. They were everyone’s favorites and all the guys dressed nice for them…and for the girls. “You didn’t stand a chance without a set of nice threads,” Granddad would say.

    My Grandma said it was the first thing she noticed about him. His dancing was the second. And that was all she needed to notice. My granddad would just grin and nod his head.

    He kept that suit and cap in his closet. He said, “one day people were going to wake up and dress nice again.” He wanted to be ready. He hoped they would learn to dance, too.

    When he died they were mine, but I’m longer and leaner, and getting leaner still. Granddad used to call me his beanpole. I “took them in” a few times, so they’d fit. I’ve been wearing them ever since. Now if I could just dance.

  48. Jonathan Pal

    August 31, 2012 at 5:21 am

    In the midst of the the hectic surroundings one cannot help but notice a single elderly man walking home. It was at this time, half past two in the afternoon, that this man would always walk this same path. He allocated this time for himself every day as a reminder of his past and a delicate push forward towards his future, even if it were to be short-lived. Just as he had come to develop over the years so has his surroundings. New buildings stand where old jazz clubs once stood and graffiti covers the walls of most of the old buildings.

    The kids called this man ‘el hombre perdido’ which translates to ‘the lost man.’ The tragedy was the kids lacked the knowledge el hombre perdido had come to own, whether it be for better or for worse. After losing his wife and being cut off by his children he had come to appreciate the smallest trace of human contact. He was balding but still went to the barber shop at the corner every week for his daily cut, he had meals delivered to his house but still went to the grocery store and he walked past the playground outside the local public school to remind himself of all the wonderful times he had as a child. One day, one child changed everything. As el hombre perdido was taking his daily stroll a young boy, no older than six years of age approached him. The boy had a single dandelion and extended it out to el hombre perdido while the other kids all shouted at perdido. Perdido smiled and thanked the boy and the boy smiled. This exchange was short, but to Perdido felt like an eternity. He put the dandelion into his front left-hand pocket of his shirt and continues onward, never knowing that the boy that gave him the dandelion was his grandson. Perdido died that night happier than any other man has ever died before.

  49. Dawn

    August 31, 2012 at 6:16 am

    Sho miss holdin Annie Ruth’s hand and lookin at ha mocha skin shinin’ through dat floral cotton dress ha momma made. Miss goin to da jook joints in na delta wit Hambone and Ray shootin pool and listenin to Lee Cook play his ‘armonica. Oooooo wee! Charlene know she can sang the blues!! Miss the long hot days and the loud cool nights where the cicadas toot their own horns. Now engines and sirens sing my lullabies. ‘Casionally, arguments and forced rhythms enter my dreams. I hang at the barber shop now. And well, I hope to see Annie Ruth real soon.

  50. J.A.M

    August 31, 2012 at 6:41 am

    Como dijiste, sigo aca. No deseo ocultar mis años que rastros son de ti. El vecindario ha ido cambiando. Poco a poco, olvidando a los que se fueron y albergando nuevos futuros. Los mismos ruidos me levantan. Es la vida recordandome que sigo aca, que todo sigue en su hermosa descordinacion. Anoche soñe contigo. Sonrei y recorde que simples y maravillosos fueron los dias junto a ti. Llegue agarrado a tu mano. Fui. Tu, pasos creaste, cuerpos cuidaste, corazones curaste. Madre, los mismos ruidos me levantan. Entonces, me levanto, me disfrazo de mi, y salgo. Como cuando te fuiste agarrada a mi mano. Salgo y pienso. Soy mi nuevo futuro que seguira en camino por esta misma tierra. Nuestra tierra.

  51. Ewura Esi Arthur

    August 31, 2012 at 6:51 am

    I’ve seen them come and go.
    These streets possess stories that are worth more than gold.
    I’m a man that has no regrets
    Yet my tainted smile reveals much distress.

    We arrived by sea, hoping it would fulfill our needs,
    The blood in my veins traces back to my country.
    The apple and lights were what truly sustained me.
    We happily embraced the grit, the pace, and its liberty.

    I shuffle my feet along reminiscing about my time in the factory.
    Things were good before she left me, oh was she so unhappy.

    As the apple and its lights dim slowly, I contemplate about my life.
    My tattered soul and tattered trousers represent my strife.
    My girls, Marie and Maureen thank you for your advice
    You are wise beyond your years, you made the ultimate sacrifice

    Though my disheveled dreams may be empty schemes,
    My time along this concrete is what made me fully complete.

    Though my time may be nearing curtain call
    I assure you I have seen it all

    I’ve seen them come and go.
    On these streets our stories are worth more than gold.

  52. Leoraul Torres

    August 31, 2012 at 7:26 am

    “Los pasos de mi viejo.”

  53. Sanjiv Winayak

    August 31, 2012 at 7:52 am

    A cigarette pivots on the cusp of his forefinger as the wind swirls around it beckoning the harsh smog against him. His laboured walk takes no notice of the street he’s marched down a hundred times. Hard pavement subdued by the melancholy daylight, each step as indifferent as the last, like an adulterer walking with his patient wife. As he walks, the ground beneath him fails to react, every familiar step taken towards a finish line unknown to all but him. He feels older now, like he’s finally got to grips. Odours of alcohol and nicotine flavour his nights framed in sandalwood and candlelight. He watches as the day subsides, substantiating a benevolence masquerading as happiness. Prophets tend to march forward in these times of deepest regret, filling these smudged days with silent harmonies both forgotten and lost to all but him. His thoughts linger upon the glass of scotch needlessly consumed prior to his forty winks. At the end of the glass he sees nothing but words and wants waiting for something to cover up their sudden clarity. Contentment is a feeling no one can achieve until memories have left. Choke on your whisky and watch as we laugh at your funeral. The night will die in mourning arms.

  54. Gary

    August 31, 2012 at 9:27 am

    Oh, well, I don’t care. I don’t care if someone took a picture of me. No, I don’t care. I go my way, on the sunny side of the street, or even in the shade, I don’t care. My sleeves are too long so I roll them up, my trousers are too large because I’m so skinny, and my shoes look enormous at the end of my wispy legs, but you know that I don’t care, son, I don’t care…

  55. Christopher Jarvis

    August 31, 2012 at 9:45 am

    Joe Rivers has walked the same block for 71 years, since he was fourteen years old. It was the days of the Renaissance, when Langston Hughes and Duke Ellington spoke truth to the darkness, through words and music drawn from the soul.

    “They were good men,” he says now. “I’d sometimes see them walkin’ down the street. Just looking at them you knew they were somethin’ special.”

    He says it as a humble man, who understates his own unique quality.

    He’s the last from the old neighborhood to remain. Like Hughes and Ellington, he speaks the truth in his own way. What was, shines through that which remains.

    And Joe Rivers remains.

  56. Michael Warren

    August 31, 2012 at 9:49 am

    He had been a gandy dancer when the integration had come. His lank frame made it easy for him to slam the spikes that held the rail. His easy, mellow voice made him the natural leader of the colored crews that worked in the pines.

    He stayed in those pines when police dogs and axe handles bristled in the streets. His old shotgun house wasn’t worth a plug nickel and it wasn’t even his. The white landlord couldn’t recollect to take the rent. He was rooted then. Acrilee had her flowers and her chickens, his sons had good work and his daughters sang in the choir.
    They made him dispatcher at Dixieana. The railroad was dying; hammerless, he sat in the tiny depot and watched the steel bones bleach in the blistering sun. Acrilee died and his children went north. There was no track to lay. His place in society had been unjust and was not to be coveted. But there was a fabric to life, threads connected.

    Now he had no place; he was too old to dance. In Glory, Acrilee waited. In Heaven, the hammer would fit his hand again.

  57. Tammy G.

    August 31, 2012 at 9:51 am

    In the minds of those who ponder what lie ahead is an abyss which leads them down the road of sheer happiness….meaning we want to end up somewhere familiar and somewhere comfortable, but that’s not always the case and all the pondering in the world can never dictate that magical thing known as fate.

    This picture reminds me of the need and the want to hold on. This man, to me, represents the embodiment of life for he is still carrying on…with dignity…to what fate has in store. He walks the line-like us all. He is us and we are him-just walking the line. Some might look at this picture and think he has already walked the line, but the line stops and starts over again…which can be misleading, but we never really know what to expect. Therefore, all that is left to do is to carry on.

    I love this picture because it speaks to my soul. It ties in to my recent lessons in this life. The sartorial aspect of this picture is not what stands out-it is the posture and the soul inside the clothes that shines through, reminding me to carry on and eventually I will get there-when fate says so…just keep walking that line which was placed there just for me.

    That sense of individual direction is one of the things that make this photo so poignant. Not being able to see his face is so significant-yet it doesn’t matter because the symbolism in this photo needs no face-it is too universal for that.
    I do hope my interpretation of this picture was good feedback…I know you asked for a story, but I believe the theme in this picture is a universal tale within itself and I must add this is my favorite place to visit on the internet (I had to put it out there-lol).

    Hugs,
    Tamara

  58. Kavita

    August 31, 2012 at 10:32 am

    “Well, if it isn’t the Esquire,” they’d barb at the barber shop, as the bell announced his arrival. He’d dressed better than his comrades, and his comrades’ masters. The few dollars that passed for his salary he collected in a faded red tuna can, and spent on suits that looked like something money couldn’t buy. A travelling salesman in gentleman’s clothing, he hoped to travel farther than his journeys would take him.

    Taunts followed where threads went, but they were always set to the music of his laughter. Years went by. The suits never lost a stitch. He did.

    He thought of this while he walked down the road he always walked down. They’d buried sharp-tongued Roy this morning. Roy, the one who’d first called him the ‘Esquire’. Funny, to think of it now. He thought back to when Roy had told him he was sick. And then asked him, quietly, if he’d help him pick a nice suit to be buried in.

  59. Tom Martin

    August 31, 2012 at 10:54 am

    Earl Ray knew shoes. Oxfords, wingtips, loafers, he’d seen them all: cheap shoes, expensive shoes, the traditional and the trendy.

    For fifty seven years, he hovered at the base of the big chair in the corner of Petty’s Barber Shop, surrounded by the tools of his trade. He knew all the tricks, too. He could take a scuffed up mangle of leather and make it look brand new. He was the master of a dying art, a shoe shine swami in baggy pants and snazzy cap.

    Earl Ray didn’t own a car. He walked everywhere. Each morning, he appeared at the shop when Mr. Petty unlocked the door. Each evening, he headed east down Jefferson, humming and smoking all the way.

    I was there on his last day of work. Some of us gathered for a quick send off. We proudly gave Earl Ray a new cap.

    When we were done, he hung his old cap atop the ancient shine chair, bowed graciously and placed his new cap jauntily on his head. Then, Earl Ray lit a Lucky and headed home. I watched him go, all the way down Jefferson, until he was clean out of sight.

  60. Scott

    August 31, 2012 at 11:41 am

    Francis knew better than to walk over the poorly-maintained steel doors on his block. Born and raised on East 12th street, exaggerated tales of their danger peppered his childhood. But the cautionary parables paled in comparison to the thunderous reverberation the deleterious entrances offered to passersby. One need do little more than walk firmly over their hollow caverns to command tympanic power. Francis, “Franky” to his father’s generation, had spent eight decades, humbly shuffling in the shadows. The former barber’s unassuming style attracted little more than an occasional nod from fellow pedestrians. He liked it that way. “Franky, there’s a lot to see in New York. Keep running your mouth and you’ll miss it,” his father would remind him. Francis’ patterned walk eroded the sidewalk as he carefully collected little moments around his neighborhood: the euphony of the playground near Avenue A, Mrs. Delgado’s potted plants, endless missing pet posters, bits of bicycles chained to poles and smells from a new bakery trying desperately to look like those of his childhood. He quietly absorbed it all. But, just for a moment, the doors would clank loudly commanding attention. “I am here,” Francis would think before slipping back into the shadows.

  61. kate

    August 31, 2012 at 11:49 am

    The streets around him were changing, almost too fast to keep up. Oh no, not the streets themselves, but the people and things on the streets. The world no longer looked as it did when his family arrived 70 years ago and crowded into his uncle’s small room. There were fewer kids out with dogs and balls, more cars. Less laundry hanging from the windows. The smells had changed, too. There is still the noise, now it’s more machine than human. But the world could shift on its axis and it wouldn’t change his walk to the deli. 30 steps from the door to the corner. Cross the street and another 20 steps to the west, down the alley and it’s across the street. The price of a sandwich and soda is no longer a nickel, but it still delights him all the same. And today seems like a good day for a walk.

    • Kelly

      September 3, 2012 at 12:24 am

      So poignant. Well done.

  62. Tonya

    August 31, 2012 at 11:52 am

    You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy when skies are gray, he quietly sang to himself as he rambled on his way. He passed unnoticed by many, but held a treasure so true that many would trade places with him, if given the chance.

    They did not know that 60 years ago today he and his bride had skipped hand in hand down this same sidewalk after sharing precious I do’s. Where had the time gone? This street used to be so full of zest and life, he thought. The church where they had said their I do’s was now only an ivy covered battered building that whispered its secrets of old and “his” sidewalk now showed its signs of aging. Just like him, as he chuckled to himself.

    His bride was now gone, but still as real as the day she had radiantly walked down that aisle to become his. As he had prepared for his walk he straightened the she had given him on that precious day, helped her helped her gently down the front steps and held her invisible hand as they walked down memory lane. You’ll never know dear how much I love you…

  63. Meghan Diver

    August 31, 2012 at 11:56 am

    i already know it’s useless to wash the spots off these pants. They, like the worn hands that have cleaned so many times before, will not be young again, will not renew. Nor will a new belt make my shoulders the square things they once were. These shoulders that have held more than their share and these shoes that have walked further than they should. They have seen many things, though they are no longer seen in return. i know that it’s all invisible, that i’m invisible. But still i don this hat and roll these sleeves. Tuck in my ends and wear my soles thinner still… And then again, I do believe I just heard a click behind Me.

    • annabella

      September 4, 2012 at 4:50 am

      Meghan, You have captured a long life journey with a smile.

      “I know… ….that I’m invisible…..And then again, I do believe I just heard a click behind me.”

  64. Susana

    August 31, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    I know this man.

    He’s older now, but I’d recognize his proud walk anywhere; his old-fashioned cap, his slightly short pants. I bet that when you look at him, you cannot guess he is an artist. Yes, an artist. Not the kind you’d think, but one nonetheless.

    Every summer, while a child, my mom would get a knock at the door.

    “Mornin’, ma’am! Any jobs for me this year?”

    And like that, he’d become part of my family for a month or so. Every day, he’d varnish the mahogany beams of our ceiling with the same care you’d caress a baby.

    I’d observe him from behind a door, wondering what hidden pleasure he derived from his steady, repetitive work. Sometimes I’d catch him singing softly, almost as if cooing the beams with every brushstroke.

    Swish, swish.

    Back and forth.

    Soothing and hypnotizing.

    One day, I gathered the courage to ask him, “Why do you do this? Don’t you want to do something else?”

    He looked down, eyes twinkling.

    “No, Susie, I don’t. I’m an artist. These walls and ceilings talk to me. They have a story to tell and need me to help them tell it.”

    I never doubted him, but it was much later that I came to understand him: It was passion what made his work a work of art.

    Susana
    http://www.akeytothearmoire.com

    p.s. The first time I saw this picture on the blog, I immediately thought of the painter on which this little vignette of a story is inspired. He really would show up every summer to paint our ceiling, and was a lovely man who looked very much like this one in the photograph… Sorry for the extra 22 words!

  65. Michael

    August 31, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    I been savin a long time. Got some money. I ain’t about ready to keep it in a bank. Might as well give it to theives instead. But I got me some money saved. Enough to go back, see my cousins in Oxford. Only talk to them on the phone a couple times a year.

    They say they doin fine.

    I be doin ok. Hurt in alot of places I didn’t know could hurt. And walkin ain’t easy as it used to be. But I’m holdin my own.

    Got this hat last week. From Goodwill. Damn if I don’t feel like a gentleman in it. Had one like it when I was 20. Ladies loved me in that hat. I could dress sharp. Never had a lonely night. They called me “mister” then, Mister James, the sewin lady’s son. They courted me for my momma more than me. She could sew a dress make em look like an angel.

    I miss momma. Maybe visit her grave when I get to Oxford. Need a new suit first. But I got some money. Been savin.

    • sanmiguelense

      August 31, 2012 at 7:48 pm

      I like this one!!!

  66. J. Martin

    August 31, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    “Swing low, sweet chariot. Coming for to carry me home.” Walking this street, and here too long. Me, I had mine. Children grown up, just like they had to. Now it’s just me and my mind, sometimes a breeze. But you’ll see once you get here, just don’t go finishing things up too fast. Won’t know what you’re missing, till everything is gone and past. Us
    folks, we say that time by time.

    “If I get there before you do, I’ll cut a hole and pull you through.” Once I could stop at the bodega, and pick up a pack of smokes for a dime. I’d stand under those streets lamps and smile because this city was a grand old flame. Now, she ain’t that way. Moves too fast like a subway train. Sure, you say. She’s still the same. Ok, I say, and lift my eyes.

    “If you get there before I do, tell all my friends I’m coming too.” Maybe it’s me that ain’t the same. Still one hand in pocket, the other in a dream. But my still fits, and my shoes still shine, but this walk is getting darker, every minute, every hour, all the time.

  67. Caroline Huggins

    August 31, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    Perhaps my accent collared his attention. I was sure his gait and the mellow folds of his shirt disposed him to knowledge of the neighborhood and the best place for coffee. I feel like I am walking in a grainy photo for the Times. The spring light has wrapped the street and sidewalk with shadows of all degrees. A cup of joe seems like the perfect prop to reinvent myself and I ask for directions. When he walks away I notice he and I share an appreciation of, or least patience for, clothes that have seen a surgeon or two. Those cotton treads reinforce and give added support to the plunging fabric. I wonder if these pants were always his since the margin of socks writes a story of a shorter man. Perfectly a sign rises above like a cartoon bubble. Like a language foreign to me, I can’t make out the words.

  68. Makaga

    August 31, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    It hadn’t been easy selling the store. I can’t say I’d ever imagined selling it. It always seemed like something that would end when I ended. Or, if we had been blessed with children, something that would have been handed off to them. But’s that’s not the way it happened. My darling has been gone for just over 12 years now, bless her soul, and the neighborhood isn’t the same anymore. Heck, I’m not even the same anymore. Things hurts and ache in my body now that I didn’t even know could hurt. The bedside table has more pill bottles on it than I care to admit, and they’re there to just get me comfortable enough to get moving each morning. But, still, sometimes, when the weather is nice, it’s good to walk by the old store front, and take a peak in the window. I never dare step foot inside; it feels wrong to do so. But I like to walk by and pause, and remember what I once was.

  69. Sevan

    August 31, 2012 at 3:08 pm

    I’m very moved by all the stories, they ring so true.
    It’s going to be very difficult to chose ONE winner !

  70. Manny

    August 31, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    They tell me I look cool; I look hip; I look fly. But they don’t know the story behind my style, if I can even call it that (style).

    This old shirt was picked out for me by my wife shortly before I went off to fight in Vietnam. I never got a chance to wear it before I was deployed, and when I returned she had passed during the birth of our first child.

    I found these pants at a James Brown estate sale, and boy…back in my day that boy could dance. He was a little bit bigger than me, but I’ve got plenty of space in them to bust a move every once in a while.

    Now, my hat…that’s just a cool cap. You can’t go wrong wearing plaid with solids.

  71. Lovet O.

    August 31, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    Another day without you Maria. I don’t know how long I can live without you. ‘Mi manchi’. ‘Ti amo’. I cherish the times we’ve spent together.

    Everyday, I walk around the neighborhood. Remember when we used to do that? It was our daily routine. We used to watch Dr. Oz and he would say to walk more for good health. You nagged me everyday about it and you finally convinced me to walk with you. Then I grew to love it. To love you. To love us.
    Even though you’re not around. I still walk. I want to make you proud.

    I can’t wait to walk with you again ‘La mia bellissima moglie’.

  72. hfw

    August 31, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    Sigh of Sorrow

    Stuck in a mist of the morning
    All that is you is sung behind alien walls
    Repeating and forgetting faith
    What is given, shall be taken

  73. Rebecca

    August 31, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    The air was crisp and fresh with the approaching winter as John stepped outside that September morning in East Harlem. But the sun-holding on to summer like a child fighting sleep-warmed his weary face. Going out to get milk would have a new meaning now he supposed. No longer the milk for his coffee, no longer the milk he dipped his late night chocolate cookies in. The milk he would be bringing home today, and for perhaps the rest of his days on earth, would be for that new baby. He could hear her cries from 7 stories up as he walked to the corner store, already numbing himself to the sounds.

  74. Monsieur Marcel

    August 31, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    I like strolling around the East Village before my Pastels Drawing class at the Cooper Union. It starts with an eggcream at the newsstand on Second Ave, right off St.Marks Place; I order a chocolate one (is there any other?) and walk down the Avenue. Approaching 7th St I can’t help noticing the change in the neighborhood: LOVE SAVES THE DAY, with its wonderfully wacky window displays of curios and vintage fashions has been replaced by a restaurant. I sigh audibly in dismay…which goes unheard.
    I decide to stop by the East 4th St Gallery where the photographer Alex Harsely showcases his work of nearly five decades. He began his career in photo journalism but his passion is New York City street photography–pictures lovingly shot and poetically charged.

    Just as I’m about to turn off Second Ave and onto East 4th, I’m distracted by the stately figure of an elderly man; his posture, perfect; his well-worn clothes enlivened and made elegant by his lean frame and proud gait. Wow! I think to myself…where’s The Sartorialist when you need him?

    • annabella

      September 1, 2012 at 9:39 am

      Monsieur Marcel

      Eloquent and dignified. Just like him.

      clever and funny!

      We have a winner!

  75. Amy Richardson

    August 31, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    I should be folding the boys clothes, planning our dinner or cleaning the toilets. Instead I am sitting here telling you that the first thing I thought about when I saw this picture was of my Papa. His name was Walter. He was born in 1912 and died in 1998. He sold Fords. He was married to Mae for 61 years. I miss having “old” people in my life. I miss the connection to my history. I miss him. I miss watching him listen to every Orioles Game on the radio while keeping the volume down on the TV. I miss him “dressing” for dinner. I miss his suspenders and vests and wide ties. I miss him chopping up the nuts for Mae’s cookies. I miss him putting on his hat every time he left the house. I miss helping him shine his shoes. I miss him giving Mae a kiss in the hallway before bed. I can’t type anymore. I can’t see through the tears. Thank you for letting me miss him again. I hope the fellow in the picture has someone in his life who will miss him one day.

  76. Eddie Looper

    August 31, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    Four long days. Four long days he’d been walkin’, and still he hadn’t found it. He knew it had to be around here somewhere, but where? Who knows? Well, ‘HE’ knows, but who can understand ‘HIM’ anyhow?
    The last time he started on one of these journeys, his hip moved a little smoother. His pants hung a little lower and his shoulders weren’t so far in front of his chin. But, heheheheh, at least he could now…heheheh, rest his head on his…ahaha…chin! Hehehe, wheeeww. That always used to make his partner laugh, too. Man…Dandy Randy. What a partner! But now he journeyed on his own. This would be his last one. He could feel it.
    All he had to do was find it, for ‘HIM.’ But, man, where could it be?

  77. klara

    August 31, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    He walks home as usually. He is not interested in his dress at all. It doesn’t matter what season is, he puts on his old pants, which doesn’t fit anymore, old shirt, which used to be white. He walks home, smoking, not caring what the trends are – who cares what the cut is, or the colour, or the texture. He is old, without a job, without anyone to take care of… He had a child, daughter, but 10 years ago she died in a car accident along with her husband. Their only daughter left the town and moved to NY. She sends him postcards, from time to time. She’s doing very well, got a good job, something to do with clothes and magazines… He is not sure. But everytime she is in newspapers, he buys the expensive magazine to see her. And then he can imagine her walking home, walking back to him, in her high heels with red sole…

  78. Elderberry

    August 31, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    He was late. His little girl was waiting for him. Like everyday he was going to his daughters flat to look after Agnes, his sweet princess. All morning he was thinking about new story he would tell her. His youngest granddaughter.

  79. Oana Dolea

    August 31, 2012 at 6:46 pm

    Ibrahim walked the same path every afternoon: after a full day tending to his shop, the day’s treat lay at the end of the main street of his small town – the nightly chess tournament in the main square. Fading architectural glories of colonial past filed past as he walked still humming his latest composition. His old, tired hands could no longer play his beloved piano but no one ever said his mind couldn’t either!

    He walked in the warm light of the approaching Carribean dusk, contemplating the shadows dancing all around him. Other than the lazy rustling of the palm leaves above, and the rhythmic clic-clac of his “city shoes”, it was quiet – as it was every day. But like every day, as he approached the main square, the sounds of the town on a warm evening night began to fill the air, almost as beautiful as his songs. And, bringing a smile to his face, the sounds of shifting leaves and footsteps on the old stones were gradually replaced with the happy greetings of good friends, chess pieces rattling on old wooden boards, enticing invitations of the food vendors and, as always, fleeting bits of the day’s gossip.

  80. Paula Alves

    August 31, 2012 at 7:03 pm

    (my outlook is not working, is a comment valid for participation?)

    He walks through all empty lives he sees and salutes with his wissle while stampeding the cobblestone.
    His voice used to tune souls rhythms for the hectic yet romantic girls in the hidden smoky bars.
    Only if we knew, his eyes used to set horizons of hopes and dreams in the coldest hearts, now he closes them on purpose, not not to see, but to let others see.

    He could have opted for the spotlight yet he chose( life is always an attitude at some point, one might believe) to wander through the hazards these people he walks by provide him with.

    His body is now but a set of physical memories the street carved on him. He truly embraces an universal beat we are not able to aprehend and I can tell you :
    he is the freest man I have ever met.

  81. Katharine Sofia

    August 31, 2012 at 8:25 pm

    You could always see it in the way my grandfather walked that he had been a dancer. Even when he was old, the way he was by the time I was born, the rhythm of the dance was still visible in his strut, in the snap of his fingers and the way he held his elbow in close, like one of those boys from West Side Story. Five, six and away he’d go, down to the store like he was Fred Astaire.

    I tried to tell him that once; I tried to tell him about how when I was a kid, all elbows and left feet, I would trail behind him and try to copy his walk, as though that alone could teach me how to move with grace and style. He nearly fell out of his chair laughing.

    “Charlie. Little man. I ain’t no dancer. Yeah, sure, your grandmama and I used to cut a rug back before there was your mama, but we weren’t nothing compared to those couples that really knew what they was doing. And now I’m an old, old man with no more dance in him. But you’re kind to think so.”

    I think about him often, even more so now that my wife and I have our little Lady. I see the way she stumbles after me, all chubby arms and grasping fingers, and I wish all the time that I could teach her to dance the way my grandfather walked.

  82. Jaqueline

    August 31, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    Life brought me wisdom. The heavy shoes lead me forward through life, leaving behind the days of labor. My shadow warns that it’s time to go home. It’s lunchtime of my love. The old pants reflect my priorities and not my poverty. A cool breeze reminds the blanket I have to extend. It’s time of the medicine of my love. A light shirt combines with the peace that dominates my feelings. The soft music that echoes distant cadence this time of my life. It’s time of farewell of my love. In the pocket I keep my most precious possession: the hand that welcomed the pain of my love and never missed when it was needed. Yes, life has brought me wisdom.

  83. Ryoko

    August 31, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    While the school children shriek in excitement for the impending vacation, the old man walks. He walks, with a slight sheen of sweat building on the back of his neck. He walks, with his favorite cap that his first love described as “dandy.” It’s late June. While the world is listless from what it had been trained since childhood to view as a time for outings, adventures, new experiences – the man reminisces. He can easily see the color of her eyes. Her gestures, soft and comforting, hold special meaning simply by the way she hands him a glass of water. His wife had passed away long ago; his offspring built a life of their own. He’s content with his current surroundings, the way he had lived – and is living – his twilight years. Strolling to his diner to escape the afternoon heat, with good company who, ultimately, would never be his, he knows that the world is A-okay. Could not be worse, could not be better, but good enough to spread smiles. Pleasant interactions with people whose last name you would never know, the best kind of relationship to go back to, on a sunny afternoon.

    • Fredrick

      September 3, 2012 at 2:32 pm

      Very Good. Fresh outside the box.

  84. Jaqueline

    August 31, 2012 at 8:50 pm

    Life brought me wisdom. The heavy shoes lead me forward through life, leaving behind the days of labor. My shadow warns that it’s time to go home. It’s lunchtime of my love. The old pants reflect my priorities and not my poverty. A cool breeze reminds the blanket I have to extend. It’s time of the medicine of my love. A light shirt combines with the peace that dominates my feelings. The soft music that echoes distant cadence this time of my life. It’s time of farewell of my love. In the pocket I keep my most precious possession: the hand that welcomed the pain of my love and never missed when it was needed. Yes, life has brought me wisdom.

    (Sorry, my English is bad….)

  85. Liz

    August 31, 2012 at 10:22 pm

    “If it ain’t broke.” That was Dad’s philosophy. It explained why he kept so many of my things, even after I tossed them aside. He was always figuring some way to make use of my refuse. Old schoolbooks transformed into notepads, torn t-shirts turned dishrags, leftovers into a grand feast. These pants, though – they were a gift from the neighbor’s daughter. Her father just died of a degenerative nerve disease, and she had loads of dress clothes that had gone unworn for years. So he gladly took them in, laundered them, mended them. These pants always bewildered me, for they were the perfect length when he’d inherited them, yet one evening I caught him hemming them up. He turned them into highwaters, and embarrassed me every day he took me to school, as pants that high were not of the latest fashions of the schoolyard. He wore those things for upwards of thirty years. After his death, I found among his belongings one of my old schoolbooks, turned into a journal. “Just want to feel the wind round my ankles, remind myself I’m still here. Ain’t broke yet.”

    • Suzy

      September 2, 2012 at 6:35 pm

      wow amazing story

  86. Meredith

    September 1, 2012 at 1:16 am

    See, now –

    If it’s a beautiful day, why, you better be out in that sunshine.

    You hear?

    Because, these beautiful days, they don’t come around all the time.

    Sometimes you get the rain down to your bones, sometimes you get the snow falling through cracks in the sidewalk, sometimes you get the wind that knocks you down in front of that oncoming bus. Ain’t nothing to do but get back up when that happens.

    Sometimes you got empty pockets, nothing in ‘em but a stick of chewing gum and a wad of lint. Sometimes you got an empty heart, bust right through the bottom, like nobody’s business. That’s a hard day right there. Seem like the whole world just strung together by one feeble thread, and maybe that thread just isn’t gonna hold.

    Those are the days when you ain’t got no choice: you better put on your shoes and find that hat, better pick up whatever you got left and step out into that sunshine like there’s a million sunny days ahead of you. Because only then can the joy come back in, and all those places you’re broke – Lord have mercy, it’ll stitch you back together.

    • annabella

      September 1, 2012 at 5:16 pm

      Meredith, Beautiful! I love the way you portray him with heart, diginity and optimism! He deserves that and more. Maybe some help if he welcomes it from us Sart fans., for the gift he has given us! (see my comment below” @ Reader Comment…from annabella” for a bit more detail on how weSartorialist fans might proceed to help)

      He has made such a difference to us through Scott’s touching raw photo, and inspired such heart stopping stories about his life, i’d like to think maybe we could join forces here and identify him and offer a helping hand, just because it woulld be the kind thing to do, after all he has, probably unknowingly,already, right heere at our favorite site, done the same for us!

      Maybe one of us can identify him…with help from his neighbors, and find out what, if anything, he would find helpful to have in his life. Then, perhaps we could set up a ‘donate’ section with Scott’s blessing, to collect funds, to thank him for inspiring such beautiful writings. Seems a gentleman of this caliber deserves some praticle of ‘kudos’ for his dginified, and probably unknowing, part in this spectacularly heart centered outpouring of talent.

      Just looks like the logical next step. I love your story of hope about his life. Besides winning, I hope this phot and story can take us Sartorialist’ fans to the next level of community…paying it ‘backwards’ in some meaningful way to and for him.

      And to you, and all Sartorialist mega fans, what do you think of this idea? And what ideas would you add to this moving photos’ seeming call for loving kindness for a human being who has inspired and touched so many?

      Good luck, Meredith!

  87. Carbon Therrien

    September 1, 2012 at 2:18 am

    These clothes, cotton and linens, have worn me away like butter. My belt with all the holes looking like player piano sheet music. The space between my skin and loose clothes are insulated with great silences, a knowledge of the dreams and strength of youth. This body suitable to carry something weightless. The tingling cold on my face, I feel determined, as if this were right before I come to see the woman I loved and hadn’t all summer. This morning, I alter time and space. Feelings and stories of the past are projected on sidewalks and buildings, transparent draperies, not censoring the light capture a subtler truth.

  88. Papayas and Mangoes

    September 1, 2012 at 2:24 am

    He was a small man, fastidious in his habits, regular in his routines. Each morning, he bathed in a steaming bath, ran a small file in a crescent beneath his finger nails, shined his shoes and adjusted his cap – just so – in the window of the shop below. He worked six days a week, as many hours as they let him so that the minutes stitched into hours, the hours into days, his thoughts held tight in fist of his discipline. He shopped on Sunday, stepping out always too early, before the city had fully woken. He thought to get some fruit, perhaps, a juicy mango or a fat, ripe papaya. Not some crunchy-ass apple. Apples shouldn’t even count as a fruit, he thought. Luisa would laugh at an apple. He could already picture her (ah but here he was veering into the swamp of longing again), he could already picture Luisa in his kitchen, running her hand along the ceramic tiles, marveling at the hissing radiators. One hand on hip, she would hold the apple in her other hand, pinching it between her thumb and middle finger, exclaiming, “Now what, man, am I supposed to do with this?”

  89. Carbon Therrien

    September 1, 2012 at 2:26 am

    These clothes, cotton and linens, have worn me away like butter. My belt with all the holes looking like player piano sheet music. The space between my skin and loose clothes are insulated with great silences, a knowledge of the dreams and strength of youth. This body suitable to carry something weightless. The tingling cold on my face, I feel determined, as if this were right before I come to see the woman I loved and hadn’t all summer. This morning, I alter time and space. Feelings and stories of the past are projected on sidewalks and buildings, transparent draperies, not censoring the light capture a subtler truth. I hear voices some real sweet, some that are just the clicks of whispers, some filled with rage I visualize rising all around me like hot air balloons. I face this morning freshly shaven, shuffling down the concrete, so slow and quiet, but so rich, like butter.

  90. mangos and papayas

    September 1, 2012 at 2:41 am

    He was a small man, fastidious in his habits, regular in his routines. Each morning, he bathed in a steaming bath, ran a small file in a crescent beneath his finger nails, shined his shoes and adjusted his cap – just so – in the window of the shop below. He worked six days a week, as many hours as they let him so that the minutes stitched into hours, the hours into days, his thoughts held tight in fist of his discipline. He shopped on Sunday, stepping out always too early, before the city had fully woken. He thought to get some fruit, perhaps, a juicy mango or a fat, ripe papaya. Not some crunchy-ass apple. Apples shouldn’t even count as a fruit, he thought. Luisa would laugh at an apple. He could already picture her (ah but here he was veering into the swamp of longing again), he could already picture Luisa in his kitchen, running her hand along the ceramic counters, marveling at the hissing radiators. One hand on hip, she would hold the apple in her other hand, pinching it between her thumb and middle finger, exclaiming, “Now what, man, am I supposed to do with this?”

  91. Priscilla

    September 1, 2012 at 4:26 am

    My love, the one that I forever want in my arms. Ah, she was a photographer. Her favorite place to capture photos were in the streets of Columbia. It was also our fond spot to spend a summer evening, strolling hand in hand, maybe with an ice cream cone as well. We had this tradition for 19 years. Each of those evenings she would capture a photo of me. I always questioned “why me?”, she would reply with a twinkle in her eye, “Why would I miss an opportunity to capture such a beautiful sight, even if I do see it everyday.”This is the final photo of our final walk together. The photographer, my daughter, says she keeps it in her wallet, “This beautiful sight reminds me of home papa. It reminds me how we strolled every week together until I left for college. I love you so much.” I love you too darling.

  92. annabella

    September 1, 2012 at 8:04 am

    Reader Comment :

    Geeeze, I’m a wreck, after tearfully reading ALL of your talented writings and verse about this beautiful photograph of a very living breathing man!

    Just a thought Scott, would it be possible for we Sartorialist devotees so inclined, to pull together and ask around to identify this gentleman? (Perhaps a shopkeeper or 2 would know him. Certainly they’d recognize his cap), to see if he might need and welcome some help.

    Maybe we Sartorialist friends/fans/sponsors/anyone who has been moved by this poingant photo could donate toward that helping hand. Probably unknowingly, this gentleman through you, helped inspire an outpouring of heart stopping talent! Just thought it might be nice to thank him for his contribution. Pay it ‘backwards’ , so to speak.

    Sincerely,
    Annabella

    ps Good luck in picking a winner. You’ll need it!

  93. Dan

    September 1, 2012 at 8:16 am

    Some wonderful writers here, I am pleased to see that not everyone has such a macabre sensibility as I. Erika John’s was unexpected, but Michael Warren has twice proven his ability.

  94. sanmiguelense

    September 1, 2012 at 8:27 am

    Give me a check, seen?
    Me all bathe up an fresh an clean. Everything kriss!
    Mi Clark’s so new dem still have a tag on. An new suit of clothes from me friend down a Brooklyn. An new crown from a dawta down a Yard.
    Me gwan a corner fi sell some weed then go home and watch match and sleep. An cook some fish.
    Look here, see me now Mr. Harris.
    Cho! Me hail the man up an im no hear nuttin. Him gone deaf. Mr. Harris deaf now.

  95. Heather

    September 1, 2012 at 9:13 am

    Ambling down Columbus passed the time just as well as enduring the company of his baby brother’s wife, but with less nasal. Anyway, wrapping flatware in paper napkins – for midtown managers who ate with their hands – was a child’s chore, not a man’s work. The task only gave his overripe fingers something to do.

    “I’m going out.” He reached for his hat.

    “Where?” Nasal called from the kitchen.

    He let the door slam – an effect sabotaged by the saccharine ding of the bell.

    3:15 might’ve worked, but his knees dissented. 5:30 then.

    Ten years ago, he’d have never left his jacket. But this summer had forced a compromise. Sweat tributaries converged to streams under his shirt. Another fifteen blocks, it’d be see-through. At least his hat, a bequest from his father’s brother, hid his flop sweat and the few, enumerable hairs scattered on an otherwise bald head. Nasal joked that one day the fibers would grow into his brain, leaving no choice but to put him in the home.

    “How may I help you, sir?”

    “One for Toy Story 3, not 3D.”

    “Of course, sir.”

    He nodded – even a layman’s crown commands a title.

  96. Mems

    September 1, 2012 at 9:30 am

    2036. A man once named Clay, now calls himself Sir. Although Sir had been strong as stone, he has lost his identity, he tries not to crumble. Fashion no longer exists, any attempt was forbidden. The world has been overturned by communism. Just like food, clothes were rationed too. “It was bound to happen,” he thought after the last economic meltdown. Magazines are filled with blank pages that only dictate our thoughts. The term ‘fashion’ had been removed from the dictionary. He clings to his rationed garments and tries to make the most of it. A uniform was in place, starch everything. Today there would be no starch. Can he recall what it was to have style? Would he be caught in this effort? Sir didn’t care, he wanted that sensation and confidence which came with the pride of a good outfit. “I’ll try and make this work today” he thought as he rolled up his sleeves and put on the newsboy hat he had salvavaged from his past life. The street patrol silently planned their ambush of Sir for his arrest.

  97. Colony

    September 1, 2012 at 10:01 am

    The day ended just as quickly as it began. The old man finished his shift; bones weary…not from the work, but from the dull ache of a life that might have been. As he slowly slides his cap onto his head and lights his cigarette, the rush of the nicotine charges his soul with the promise of what’s to come, briefly lifting the malaise that threatens to consume him, refusing to let it take hold.

    In his head he rehearses his composition, a brief respite from the long walk to his flat. He thinks about what’s waiting for him there, and a quick hitch in his step accelerates his pace, anticipation coursing through his weary veins. As he cooly reaches into his pocket gripping the spoils from his hard earned work, a smile slowly emerges igniting the light in his grey eyes. He begins humming a familiar tune, blending his own musical creation into the comfortable cadence of his favorite song- a song that brings him to a place he can no longer call home, except for in his heart.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tnFfKbxIHD0

  98. ttea

    September 1, 2012 at 10:37 am

    There are some really amazing stories here. I like the picture.

    http://fashionananthropologicalpointofview.blogspot.ca/

  99. Meredith

    September 1, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    Streets and alleys stretched before the man who was no longer young, weaving together into a sporadic grid of frenzied movement. When he was younger, the man had loved the city. Each inhalation of breath had possessed a piece of the hurried culture that surrounded him. Each exhalation had reminded the man that he was alive and a part of something so tangible. As he aged, the man had lost this sense of belonging. He longed to be surrounded by life that moved slowly and deliberately. Sometimes the man thought he might find this in a small town, surrounded by a forest or the sea. When he felt especially confident, the man would share these thoughts. He would speak of the dreams that lay buried within the deepest pockets of his soul to a stranger on the bus or the silent men who slept in the park. After all, they were nothing but dreams, carried by the currents of a mind that had done too much thinking.

    • Sevan

      September 1, 2012 at 4:37 pm

      “….the dreams that lay within the deepest pockets of his soul…..”
      That gave me goose bumps !

  100. Thomas Hanchett

    September 1, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    Wearing his oldest surviving pair of pants always gave Jake inspiration on his evening poetry strolls through the far West Village. He was seven lines into a villanelle about the Spanish-Cuban dancer from Boston who broke his life open all those years ago. With her perfect question. The one he was still learning to answer in the twilight of diminishing days.

  101. Lauren

    September 1, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    I saw him every morning on my way to work. Shuffling along to get the newspaper. People brushing past me to run downstairs and get on the subway, just to stand on the platform, having missed the train. A sea of people hunched over their cell phones and right above, this guy, not walking much faster than a child, on his way to get the newspaper. He had always just passed the corner when I’d walk by. Sometimes I hurried along, hoping to intercept him—catch his eye and smile like we were old friends. No matter the time when I’d come jogging up, he would be hitting the corner building, like the last rays of the sun before it moved past and was gone for the day. I found out later that he was a cartoonist for the New Yorker. Had drawn doodles every week for 52 years. Can you imagine? Here we were, me and my fellow travelers, all trying to find that sense of peace in our lives, sighing with envy each time we heard of a life spent like that, yet brushing past it each morning on our way to work.

  102. Veshoevius

    September 1, 2012 at 6:18 pm

    Grandad
    I have to keep calling out softly to you to stop you drifting off
    Grandad
    I brought you the newspaper, even though I know you will only read the first page
    Grandad
    Let me rub that hand of yours, clenched so rigid now with arthritis
    Grandad
    With each visit I notice your frame is being swallowed by clothes which used to fit you
    Grandad
    Did you know the light in your eyes went out when Nanny died and never came back?
    Grandad
    And that I’m always gently reminding you that she’s been gone ten years when you ask again where she is?
    Grandad
    The cheerful tone with which you ask if I am one of your children strangles my heart
    Grandad
    Don’t you remember me?
    Grandad
    I know your mind just wants to forget this world, cut itself loose and wander away free to dream forever
    Grandad
    It’s time for your walk now, it’s a nice day and the sun is shining
    Grandad
    I remember a time when your shoulders filled out that shirt and your thighs the legs of those trousers
    Grandad
    As you walk away from me I notice you walk a shorter distance now, that your left foot drags behind since that fall you had, that you take smaller steps
    Grandad
    As you walk away from me you can’t see the soft rain of tears falling onto the sundrenched pavement at my feet

    • Sevan

      September 2, 2012 at 1:09 pm

      I’m sharing your tears. Very moving.

  103. Sarah Raphaelle

    September 1, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    “They’re too short,” she’d say.
    “They’re falling apart,” she’d say.
    “Get a new pair,” she’d say.
    He knew her too well. She’d be standing in the park, with the heavy fabric of her dress draping perfectly over her curves, looking like an angel. But her eyes would start rolling once she’d see his outfit and the perfect illusion would be gone. She’d laugh and beg him to finally give his slacks away.
    Still. Those were good pants, the kind that local tailors no longer made. More importantly, they had charmed her some thirty years ago and though she swore her hatred for them, the sight would always light a spark in her eye. They’d reminisce about being young.
    “I’ll stop wearing those pants once you marry me,” he’d say at the end of the night.
    He only wore them on their dates. Thirty years, he’d been courting her.
    As usual, she’d laugh, kiss him goodnight and walk away.
    He was glad to be chasing her, still, after all those years.
    He’d grown attached to the plays, the walks in the park, the lovely dinners. Those… and the pants!

  104. nines

    September 1, 2012 at 8:33 pm

    Artie has been married to Tinker for fifty-something years. She’s a fine woman. A good mother, and a great help to him at the shop. Imagine her keeping on all these years, without a peep of complaint, despite all those silly brochures for retirement communities in Florida. Yes, Tinker was the best thing he ever did.

    It’s just when that dirt ignorant and deaf friend from Bible Study calls. Suddenly Tinker is bellowing Ebonics till there isn’t a power tool loud enough to drown it out, till the walls take on a nervous, vibratory, almost psychedelic quality, till Artie’s head wants to explode. That’s when Tinker’s qualities fade and Artie reaches for his walking cap… and his other woman.

    It brings to mind his unrequited love for Coretta Scott back in music class at Lincoln Normal. He’d burned for that girl with a passion wider than the river, but she was a Senior and he was just a scared little Freshman.

    Damn the shyness! His father would rib him. “Hey, Smartie, you betta get yo ass outta yo mouf so’s you can talk or she goin‘ git away, son.” She got away, sure enough, and how. What a girl! What would it have been like if he’d ever gotten up the guts to sweep her off her feet?

    He wouldn’t be chased out of his own home, itching for a cigarette, to get relief from that hideous noise whenever Marva takes a mind to call Tinker, that’s one thing for sure. But maybe neither would there be these precious moments to himself, cast back into a jewel memory, the blinding intimacy of Coretta at the piano, no one but Artie has ever seen.

  105. Susan

    September 1, 2012 at 8:57 pm

    I have always had a sense of pride. Ethel used to tease me about it. “Who do you think you are? You’re putting on airs.” she’d say. When I was young I cared about how I looked and now that I am old, I still care. It’s not about money and fancy things. It’s about style. You either have it or you don’t. No two ways about it.

  106. Kia

    September 1, 2012 at 9:17 pm

    The more things change the more they stay the same. I’ve stayed the same and changed with the tide. I like what I see, new life. I hate what I see, a disrespect for tradition. The newness of youth, the familiarity of my youth. It’s a love hate relationship. The dichotomy of life. My uniform is the same. At least that can be consistent. Something known in the unknown. I am the familiar stranger.

  107. Christina

    September 1, 2012 at 9:27 pm

    Off to the next joint he thought. Maybe another smoke would do before catching up with the boys. Wasn’t so healthy now at his age, but Clancy liked to remember about what had been. It was alright, still nice to play some tunes now and then, a smooth soft rhythm for men weathered like old leather. Change jingled in his pockets and clinked against his gold rings. The missus would be expecting him for dinner tonight so he couldn’t get too riled up. But sho’ that sun was nice on his back. He remembered little Johnson telling him off about the sun. “Ain’t no way you gon’ get any darker, why not just stay inside and try to lighten’ up?” That had killed him, rolling on the floor laughing for even thinking that things might be able to change. But boy have they changed. Those mean streets of the hood no longer stood for what they used to, and change just kept on rollin’ in, jingling and clinking all day long. That’s why sometimes a line of blues is sure to cure whatever jars an old heart.

  108. catherine q

    September 1, 2012 at 11:25 pm

    Not a care in the world
    my shadow and I
    The Lord has seen me through the worst
    and the best of times.

    My favourite time of the day
    Time to myself as I walk
    Time to chat with familiar faces I see
    And for a long black later with Charles.

    It’s been a long life, a sweet life
    Yes I miss my Debbie
    She’s waiting for me I’m sure
    Complaining I am taking too long as usual.

    But I am happy and content
    I have lived a good life, a full life
    I may be poor, but my heart is filled
    with life’s sweet blsssings.

    Not a care in the world
    my shadow and I.

  109. Christy Cole

    September 2, 2012 at 12:38 am

    sometime i wonder, when God lookin down on me, do i please him with the sight o me?

    or maybe i just makes Him laugh and laugh, like the kinda laughin i can’t wait to get up to Heaven to see.

    He catch his breath and say, “Theodore James, where you get that stride in yo step?, with yo ol head leadin the way like you knows where you goin?”

    and i say, well Lord, i don’t rightly know, but at least it make me LOOK like i knows.

    and most o the time, that’s all any of us doin anyhow.

    don’t nobody know where they really headed, just tryin to look like they do.

    maybe it make us all feel a little bit like we do.

    like maybe if we look the part, maybe the part we lookin for just might show up and recognize us.

    sometime it happen.

    but then maybe i work up the nerve to say how mostly, i think we all just doin the best we can with all this crazy mess You got us down here tryin to make sense of.

    that maybe sometime the best we can do in a day is just try to hit our stride.

  110. Dave L

    September 2, 2012 at 12:51 am

    I am the soul of the Mississippi-Delta
    There is no company of which I
    Do not keep, nor is there a man in whom
    I refuse to reside. I am the
    Enchanted horn; I sound the cacophonous
    Midnight awakening in Louisiana.
    A tender, swaying wind; venerable and true,
    Sweeping in from
    Kansas City cradles my head; weary;
    Inebriated with symphonic euphoria
    I am punch-drunk, the riotous air,
    A captured ghost; I am a relic; a tumbler
    Of the deepest, most satisfying rye
    I am the weight of truth, residing in a
    Tritone; a movement
    And in the heart of my enchanted captor
    I drift along the pavement
    With that old, sweet song that keeps
    Georgia on My Mind

  111. Christy Cole

    September 2, 2012 at 12:51 am

    sometime i wonder, when God lookin down on me, do i please him with the sight o me?

    or maybe i just makes Him laugh and laugh, like the kinda laughin i can’t wait to get up to Heaven to see.

    He catch his breath and say, “Theodore James, where you get that stride in yo step?, with yo ol head leadin the way like you knows where you goin?”

    and i say, well Lord, i don’t rightly know, but at least it make me LOOK like i knows.

    and most o the time, that’s all any of us doin anyhow.

    don’t nobody know where they really headed, just tryin to look like they do.

    maybe it make us all feel a little bit like we do.

    like maybe if we look the part, maybe the part we lookin for just might show up and recognize us.

    sometime it happen.

    but then maybe i work up the nerve to say how mostly, we just been doin the best we can with all this crazy mess You got us down here tryin to make sense of.

    that maybe sometime the best we can do in a day is just try to hit our stride.

  112. Tomoyo

    September 2, 2012 at 1:36 am

    A monochromatic picture brings us to good old days he’d survived
    Father’s back and feet draggling on the street
    where
    playing in his childhood,
    hold mother’s hands at the first time,
    walking with mother feeling their heart each other.
    The light side and the dark side of his shape on the road
    where
    walking with me laughing together
    walking with his beloved at the last time.
    time to go for his last days alone.
    However I am here,
    dad.

  113. Gracie

    September 2, 2012 at 10:04 am

    Walking down to the crossroads, soul in hand.

  114. Tie and Jacket

    September 2, 2012 at 10:33 am

    This block is getting longer and longer. I should know – been walking it every day since ’56. Sometimes I imagine that my shoes have bristles underneath, and my steps are sweeping the pavement, keeping things clean. You have to respect where you are, even if it’s not where you’re from. These are strange times, yes, and one thing we need more of is respect. You know we got a black man in the White House and hate in regular folks’ hearts, that won’t do. We all need some cleaning up. I’m laughing about these old trousers. Bought them for that job down in the Flatiron, and I was proud to have tailored trousers on while mopping floors and dusting desks. I’m proud to have made a living cleaning up. A clean place is a welcoming place, lets God in. The day I retired I took my watch and shoved it in the sock drawer. Heard the damn thing ticking for months but you know, I owned my time, no more rushing around. Three days a week I sweep the floors at J’s barbershop down the way. Throws me a few dollars, cuts the grandkids’ hair for free. God is good.

    • Christy Cole

      September 2, 2012 at 5:15 pm

      yes.

  115. Gina M.

    September 2, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    He wonders 142nd Street, searching for her. Wearing his old newsboy cap, hopeful she will recognize him. He turns onto Lexington Avenue, and smells gardenias. He’s found his ghost. Her name is Billie.

  116. lauren

    September 2, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    I saw him every morning on my way to work. Shuffling along to get the newspaper. People brushing past me to run downstairs and get on the subway, just to stand on the platform, having missed the train. A sea of people hunched over their cell phones and right above, this guy, not walking much faster than a child, on his way to get the newspaper. He had always just passed the corner when I’d walk by. Sometimes I hurried along, hoping to intercept him—catch his eye and smile like we were old friends. No matter the time when I’d come jogging up, he would be hitting the corner building, like the last rays of the sun before it moved past and was gone for the day. I found out later that he was a cartoonist for the New Yorker. Had drawn doodles every week for 52 years. Can you imagine? Here we were, me and my fellow travelers, all trying to find that sense of peace in our lives, sighing with envy each time we heard of a life spend like that, yet brushing past it each morning on our way to work.

  117. Hannah

    September 2, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    He walks easily, taking his time. The rush is over, the anticipation gone, he no longer needs to answer to anyone or to look confidently ahead. Now he can walk the quaint streets, feel the breeze on his neck, study the ground, the trees, the ants and immerse himself in his surroundings. There is no need to hurry and no need to stop, the days weave into one long day of peace. As he walks he knows, this city is and always will be his home. 

  118. Christopher

    September 2, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    Fifty years since that whiskied Bowery Man warned: “whatever you do, don’t go out east.” So he did. Hadn’t planned to, but there wasn’t much to do otherwise. Something devilish or angelic in the warning implied a wager. He left the gun behind. Slacks on his legs, shirt on his back, five dollars in his sock.
    Life swung up, it hung low. There were tenements, strung out gamblers, circus freaks and other kinds too. The upright piano in Washington Square Park before, after, and in-between. He used to wonder whether he should’ve stayed where he came from, but time evened out the struggle between reality and regret. The past didn’t seem worthwhile, except for one day every year. On the first of September–the hot ones and the cold ones, the dry and the wet ones– he liked to wear his memories. History clung to his skin.
    Today dignity and decline dance as he walks, as he enjoys little inconsequential pleasures. The childish fear of a sidewalk cellar door. The adult hunger for a coffee and buttered roll.

  119. Ghazal

    September 2, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    Every morning I grab coffee at the corner of 19th and Sansom. Leaving the coffee shop, hot paper-cup in hand, I see this man. He walks slowly, lightly, as if he doesn’t want to wake up the slumbering babies, babies he only sees because his soul is so gentle that he sees things no one else does. I try to catch his glance. His chestnut eyes give me peace as addictive as the coffee.

    This sweltering August day, I came to get coffee. But there was no need to be here this morning. I was laid off yesterday. Now my morning routine doesn’t need to be so routine. I saw him approaching. I looked away. I was too upset and didn’t want him to read through me, to be disappointed that I define myself by my job. Now, jobless, I am no one. He came closer. He smelled of musky sweet pipe and yesterday’s coffee; a combination so welcoming I wanted to curl up in it and forget my worries. My eyes defied my intentions and met his. He winked.

    In this heavy air pushing me down like the weight of a thousand callous hands, this familiar stranger stays cool.

  120. Geoffrey

    September 2, 2012 at 9:11 pm

    He feels the hard column climb the back of his neck. His wife has said, “Oh, honestly, get rid of those trousers!” Her voice is a fist. He passes through the kitchen into what they have always called the foyer. She bangs a pot, says something about something. He wonders about this woman with whom he’s spent 40 years, how she can understand so little about him. He grips the soft fabric, pulls at the front of his thighs. A riot of memory: the day their daughter was born; the Knicks championship in ’69; the March; the first time Dennis beat him in chess; that twilight in August of ’78 when the air was a little bit cool and everything felt right; the day their daughter was taken.

    As she talks, he gets a cigarette and steps out. He holds it with all his fingers and walks toward the light of the ever-changing store sign over-hanging the sidewalk like a low afternoon moon. His shoulders are high and hard. Beyond the light is Jack’s Bar, where he’ll be until dark. Hopefully, Henrietta will be there. He’s wearing the hat she likes.

  121. Rafeeq

    September 2, 2012 at 10:14 pm

    An older gentleman walks gently on the warm sidewalk towards his home. For much of his life he was a part of the hustle of the big Apple that is now behind him. Out of habit he still rolls up his sleeves, and although work will never touch his brown skin again, he knows that he must keep the hustler’s spirit alive.

  122. tanya

    September 2, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    I love my wife. She passed away two years ago, but it seems like yesterday. Now i’m old and alone. Ya see we never had any children, don’t know if it was me or my wife. We just accepted gods plan. Oh how we loved to see the children in the neighborhood playing. We had been in this neighborhood for fifty years and we seen a lot of them grow up and have families of their own. I have a home health aide that comes in to help me get things done around the house and she makes meals sometimes, she tries her best. I miss my wife.

  123. VSell

    September 2, 2012 at 10:53 pm

    When I was a child, my grandfather and I would walk to get ice cream in the summer. Each time he came for these special trips he wore his favorite pants. “Have I ever told you that your grandmother made these to my exact measurements?” he would ask proudly running his thumbs inside the slack waistband. Decades later, cinched up with a weathered belt that wrapped around his waist almost once and a half, they offered no hint of their former fit as they hung like limp laundry on his frame. “No” I always answered, trying to feign curiosity. Grandfather would then recall the story I heard countless times. I imagined grandmother’s precise hands extending her tape measure to obtain just the right break. Those once crisp cuffs were worn away by the years, necessitating their conversion into plain hems and then shortened further each time they turned threadbare. After Grandmother died, he became the seamstress. His untrained hand, aching to mimic the once-fine stitch, rendered the pants embarrassingly short. A prouder, less sentimental man would have thrown them away. But these pants held years of memories for him and now for me as I still picture him sauntering home.

    • Pat

      September 3, 2012 at 8:24 pm

      Thank you for this. It reminded me of my grandfather.

  124. Valerie

    September 2, 2012 at 11:00 pm

    His pants had grown limp over the years. They hung loosely down his sides, a belt clinching together the thick fabric around his waist. That morning he stood in front of the mirror tucking in his pale cotton shirt with frail arms. His tired eyes met their reflection in the mirror. He crossed the small room and sat heavily on the edge of his bed, folding up one leg to draw a familiar grey sock over his foot. He took a break before his bony feet slipped easily into a pair of shoes set out before him. The matte black leather sighed pleasantly as his feet were enveloped and sealed. He sat on the wooded frame of his bed with an empty expression, as if waiting for something – or someone – to give him reason. After some time his heavy eyes lifted to the ticking of a clock. For a split second, his eyes drew narrow and deep. He pushed himself up from the bed with both arms, and moved slowly to the door. He took a hat from a hook by the doorframe, turned the doorknob, and headed down the narrow stairwell. Outside, the sun was shining.

  125. Jessica G.

    September 3, 2012 at 12:36 am

    “What happens now?” Nelson thought, as he shuffled home that spring afternoon, down the streets he knew as well as the creases in his trousers and the rolled cuffs of his shirt, all smiles and “Hey, how-ya-doin’s?” Nelson’s great-granddaughter was born this particular morning – seven pounds and eleven ounces of untainted perfection that he vowed nine long months ago to live to welcome into this world. A life-long tailor, Nelson’s existence had been comprised of servicing the community. Up until this moment, his biggest point of pride had been the knowledge that his memory would outlive him in the hemmed pants, altered dresses, and patched elbows that walked the streets of New York every day.

    Nelson had an answer to his self-imposed question, as he usually did. “That baby,” he thought, “must be about sixteen inches long, eight inches wide. That baby,” he thought, “don’t have a single flaw in her little body. But that baby, she’d look even prettier, in a little cotton summer dress.”

  126. Koro

    September 3, 2012 at 7:05 am

    In the summer of 1999, I left my father a lonely man. My mother’s death had left him a broken man and I spent three years picking up his shards before his pain started to suffocate me. I packed up my teenage years in a brown leather bag filled with mismatched socks, frayed denim jeans, and the only picture he ever let me take of him, tucked into my pocket. I left with promises of phone calls and hand written letters. When his nightmares started, he would call me and tell me stories about the love affair he had with my mother. I could see him sitting at the edge of his bed with his head buried in his hand and tears pooling at the bottom of his eyelids. “Ellie,” he would say, “Do you think she sees how much of a man I have not become since she’s been gone?” I could never give him an answer and my silence was enough for him. How do you heal a man who is still in love with a ghost? A grieving man has no business owning a heart because it only reminds of his loneliness.

  127. Juan Carlos Pinedo

    September 3, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    As I walk the streets of my neighborhood…I still remember the love of my life. She was different, and I was different, but, we love each other in different kind of way. It was easy, classical, day and night, winter and summer. She always dressed like a Queen, my Queen. I was her lovely gentleman from the barbershop.

    We used to walk together, the streets of our neighborhood. I will offer my arm, and she would always say, “thank you”. It was the greatest gift, I received, every day, for almost 50 years. Our walks together, dressing like we were celebrating the wedding day, our wedding day.

    And, I keep walking the streets of our neighborhood to see her, to remember her, to love her.

  128. AC

    September 3, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    I’m going to meet my mistress. She loves it when I call her that, says it makes her remember being young enough to feel forbidden. Back when we stayed out in jazz clubs, drinks tasting like amber sugar and her looking like some kind of fairy tale. We used to dance a sweet kind of two step, and tonight I’m bringing her music. She’ll remind me to straighten my collar first, like she always does. I’ll put a record on and take her round the room.
    “Did you put on your dancing shoes for me?” she’ll ask.
    “Of course,” I’ll say, “and the hat you like too.”
    She’ll smile.
    I ring the bell and walk up, not sure if the creaking is the stairs or my knees. I don’t know how many more times I’ll see her. She lost her sight months ago, and the rest of her is going now too. We’ve still got better moves than the kids on the street. The cake walk, the applejacks, the boogie back. Soul isn’t something you lose with age.
    “Boy,” she says, as I open the door. “Whenever you walk in, I swear I see sunshine again. Now, straighten that collar.”

  129. Geoffrey

    September 3, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    Contest submission:

    He feels the hard column climb the back of his neck. His wife has said, “Oh, honestly, get rid of those trousers!” Her voice is a fist. He passes through the kitchen into what they have always called the foyer. She bangs a pot, says something about something. He wonders about this woman with whom he’s spent 40 years, how she can understand so little about him. He grips the soft fabric, pulls at the front of his thighs. A riot of memory: the day their daughter was born; the Knicks championship in ’69; the March; the first time Dennis beat him in chess; that twilight in August of ’78 when the air was a little bit cool and everything felt right; the day their daughter was taken.

    As she talks, he gets a cigarette and steps out. He holds it with all his fingers and walks toward the light of the ever-changing store sign over-hanging the sidewalk like a low afternoon moon. His shoulders are high and hard. Beyond the light is Jack’s Bar, where he’ll be until dark. Hopefully, Henrietta will be there. He’s wearing the hat she likes.

  130. CGB

    September 3, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    “Hello, Professor Perry? This is Ethan Jentry from your Drama II class”.
    “Can you hear me sir, I have my bluetooth in?”
    “Sir, I just wanted to call and thank you. I just came from an audition and without your theory class on method acting, I’m not sure I would have done as well.”
    “It took me a few days to find the clothes, or uniform as you call it, for my character. I must have combed every thrift store in the village only to find what I needed in my Dry Cleaner’s unclaimed bin. I asked her to unhem the work she’d done and hem it again. Then I spent the next 24 hours washing and drying everything to give it that worn in look.”
    “What’s that?”
    “Oh yes,it does sound like I should take costume design next year in New Haven”
    “Well, again sir, I just wanted to thank you, and thank Mr. Stanislavski wherever he is. My posture is still in character even. You were right sir, the clothes make the man. The clothes DO make the man. See you soon, sir.”

  131. NOS

    September 3, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    None of those who had passed by him – high-heeled woman running on designer gear, winos floating on red-white combos, or young woman scented with precious drops, squeezed from a billion dollar machinery – saw a man who’s life had changed. They didn’t see that he had flipped himself, and in stead of landing back in the pan, or in the fire, he had landed on a golden plate.

    Naturally all that money would make all of them happier. It would clear their debt as a soaked sponge erases the wrong answer to black-boarded equation, but something tugged at a rope inside him – his father’s voice rang in his head.

    He decided to walk it off, to let it die out like a siren song performed in the wrong key. He had not stolen, it had hardly been a gamble, and he had worked hard for it, by living for everyone else, as he would continue to do. It would just be a little easier. It couldn’t change him if he wanted it to; his ways were set. He assured himself: When you know how to share crumbs, sharing a loaf is a walk in the park.

  132. Shane

    September 3, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    They had been on the bench for over an hour as he waited patiently for her stubbornness to subside. He sat with one leg lazily crossed over the other. Interlaced fingers hugged old faded knuckles as they rested on his knee. His back, dressed in his wrinkled faded blue shirt, pressed against the metal black bars. He looked at the passer-bys. So busy. Always rushing as though trying to catch up with tomorrow. He hummed an old jazz tune that she remembered only slightly. The familiarity of it bothered her. Warm memories had a way of opening doors to forgiveness. She preferred that it stayed shut. Just for a bit longer anyway. Unspoken words stayed safe within the silence between the two. A summer breeze passed by blowing them kisses of reconciliation as the sun hid respectfully behind a tree, allowing them the privacy of their silent conversation.
    “Same time tomorrow, then?” he asked. He stood up and straightened as best as regret and old age would allow.
    Some people just need time.
    She looked up.
    “Yes.” A whispered word, but true all the same.
    He nodded at her, smiling slightly as he adjusted his cap, and walked away.

  133. paulboyed

    September 3, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    I have not been many places. People say the lines in old folks hands tell stories about their lives; like the roads we traveled on somehow jumped into our fists. My roads were short, and my fists were always clenched. The frustrating years of anger went by quick, like a steep mountain that is perfectly flat on top. Being a grown ass man meant surviving. I survived off of flat-ironed peace. The words around and the people in this city exhausted their whole lives, they were deluded to think they would see the success of their toil. But we only see ourselves at the end of life. I see my hands, clean of what others call meaning. Clean of guilt and oppression. I survived. I feel my lungs get smaller every time I cough, but you know when it takes me I won’t be thinking of the success and fruition I never saw. I will be thinking about living, because that is all I have ever known.

  134. Charles Y

    September 3, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    when I was nine years old
    my brother and I used to
    watch tv through a crack in our
    neighbor’s door.

    it was magical
    those moving picture
    and all the beautiful music.
    then one day the man traveled and there
    was no tv.

    so to pass the time as we awaited his return,
    we will read the books in our house or
    go to sleep early.
    one evening, I discovered this one writer who
    could describe an object so vividly that it looked
    more real than anything I saw on tv.
    I dreamed of the day when I’ll be able
    to write as well as he did.

    when the man returned,
    my brother kept going back to watch tv
    through the crack in the door.
    I continued reading.
    then my brother went on
    to become a photographer
    for a major newspaper
    before he passed.

    I went on to become a minor poet.
    these days I don’t write a much as I did ten years
    ago, before my arthritis set in.
    but I still dream.
    and I’ve learned that the
    worst thing you can do,
    is to turn your
    back on your dreams.

  135. Tobia St Germain

    September 3, 2012 at 6:54 pm

    This man is in his fifties and is of caribbean decent, specifically Haiti. He has recently been diagnosed with liver cancer and given three months to live. He has not yet broken the news to his family here and his family back home in Haiti. He has been keeping this secret for two weeks and with each passing day he walks with his head a bit closer to the ground. To find peace he walks around the city and makes central park his destination. However on this pacific walk he is walking to the cemetery, to his wife’s grave where he will break the news to her. This will be the first time he speaks his diagnosis out loud.

  136. Jack

    September 3, 2012 at 6:56 pm

    “These kids nowadays,” he grumbled to himself, “runnin’ ‘round here, pants saggin’ and whatnot.”
    Always taught the value of a well-fitting pair of slacks, Gerald, or Geronimo as his friends called him, was walking home after a day measuring, cutting and sewing other’s clothes.
    Thankfully, it’d been a busy one, the sleeves got rolled up earlier than usual. Altering clothing was the only thing he’d ever been taught to do. And it’s the only thing he’d ever wanted to do.
    And after a divorce and subsequent drinking problem his business wasn’t nearly what it once was. He was forced to move to a less-than-desirable neighborhood his best clients didn’t feel comfortable in.
    Going from streets covered in chinos, slacks and sport jackets to ones ridden with sagging pants and ill-fitting white t-shirts. His pants always fit, making him feel out of place in this ‘hood.
    “They separate you; put you in a different class,” his father always told him. He had been a tailor, too. Since he died, many years ago, he had always believed that. And there was no one, young, old, rich or poor that was going to tell him any different. If only these kids knew that.

  137. M

    September 3, 2012 at 7:51 pm

    Susana’s artist story and Erika’s poem get my vote.

  138. Q

    September 3, 2012 at 8:38 pm

    Oh, these clothes I wear? I wear them because this is how a man should dress. One day, I had to repair the sewer pipe for my house, which meant I had to dig a ditch. I laid my suit jacket and hat on a nearby tree. I rolled up my sleeves and I went to diggin that ditch.

    Growing up, you could tell a man’s occupation just by how he looked even if he was half way down the street. I’m a minister, this is as casual as I get.

    However, when it was time to be presentable, it would not matter what you did for a living. My father worked on cars and he would paint under his nails clear nail polish. When he would come home it would be easy to wash out the grim before he went out for the night.

    (These were all things I was told or saw from my elders growing up in my predominantly black community.)

  139. Angie Spoto

    September 3, 2012 at 10:09 pm

    There is a time to mourn and a time to dance. The incense had curled up beyond the alter, past the stained glass angel with his sheathed sword and eyes upraised. A wisp of white had clung to existence, reluctant to leave this world in very much the same way she had. They danced the jitterbug. They fought over dinners of baked pasta and wine. They grew a family, in whose ears danced the words “hard work” from birth to, for one, premature death. The children were there with him this day as he watched the white smoke float up into the church’s rafters, but he had to leave even them behind. He needed to walk alone, for the first memorable time, without her. His cap was well worn, but he donned it today day anyway. She had given it to him for their thirtieth anniversary. Then was a time, as it is even now, to dance.

  140. Brendan

    September 3, 2012 at 10:36 pm

    His grandkids called him Pop. His children called him Dad. And his mother called him Isaac. His wife, though, she called him Ike. His family doesn’t come around the store much now that she’s gone. Still, he gets up each morning, sits on his side of the bed, and puts on the same pair of pants each day. The right leg after the left. He buttons up his shirt, tucks it in, and heads downstairs to the store, as he always had. She would be inside organizing the cash register and brewing coffee. Now he doesn’t serve coffee. He doesn’t even drink it. He sweeps each morning and walks the block, picking up any stray garbage on the sidewalk. Then, sitting on the old oak stool where she used to perch, he counts the hours until he can close up the store and head upstairs to be away from the world. Where, before going to bed, he hangs up his pants and shirt in the closet. Just like she used to do.

  141. Jeremiah J. Gratza

    September 4, 2012 at 12:22 am

    i could feel it in the air; summer was almost over and fall was just around the corner. here i was walking the streets of ny, alone, while the band i managed was in a meeting with their soon to be record label.

    they had decided it was in their best interest i not be there, so they gave me twenty bucks, and i set off to find a bar.

    i find one. i sit down. it takes a little while for the bartender to notice me, but as soon as he does i order a whisky. he brings my drink. i pay him. i looked around and notice there’s this girl that keeps looking at me. i play it coy and finish my drink. she walked towards the restroom and motions for me to join her. there’s no one else next to me, so I get up and walk towards her. ALL OF A SUDDEN THE PHONE RINGS! it’s the band and they’re done with their meeting. i get up and leave wondering if that really happened or if I imagined the whole thing? either way i was drunk, horny and pissed off, and not necessarily in that order.

  142. Francesca

    September 4, 2012 at 4:54 am

    SING A RAINBOW

    Imagine someone who knows only about the present and its sunny days. That’s

    Frank. He forgot about the past, one night a foggy instant erased his old days.

    He was born from a song that keeps singing for long hours sketching a smile on

    his face.

    Frank loves the juiciness of a full ripe mango eaten at his small table in the

    solitude of his kitchen. He cannot go to bed without the echo of tobacco flavour

    in his mouth. He always makes the same dream: going to the other side of the

    rainbow with his pair of black patent shoes. Black won’t ever be confused within

    the other colours, seeing exactly where he puts his feet. “You can’t risk to be

    distracted, it’s a long way to go, at first you climb and then you have to be very

    quick descending, it’s the hard bit”, he says.

    What are you whistling Frank?

    “Listen with your ears,

    Listen with your eyes,

    and sing everything you see,

    now you can sing a rainbow,

    sing a rainbow, sing along with me.

    And that’s what I am”, he laughs.

  143. Olivia Michel

    September 4, 2012 at 5:04 am

    Final Words – A Granddaughter’s Eulogy

    He’d always say ”choose your words wisely but never disregard an impulse to speak” which I suppose is why I find myself standing here versus sitting, continuing merely to listen.

    So so many memories, vivid moments… sitting in the melting sun and damp cold dirt of his gardens… no matter how tiny the backyard he always had ’his own plot of toil’…”remember, planting a garden is pleasing to God ” he’d say just before starting that first dig….getting to ride horsey on his knee but only ever after the traditional beg ”please Granddaddy, can we do wild horsey?, please with sugar on top” – him always giving in. Moonlit road trips me perched in that middle front seat of his canary yellow Lincoln Continental getting to talk on the C.B. ”breaker breaker it’s Yogi bear….” we were always so….so entertained when we made contact with a real trucker.

    How I’ll continue to grow now that he is …that he has physically gone – I struggle like we all do with yet another of life’s uncertainties. But if there’s one thing I do know it’s that the world is a better place because he was in it.

  144. Adrian

    September 4, 2012 at 8:37 am

    Everyday is a new opportunity to laugh and be humble. Times may be hard but take it day by day and live.

  145. Ryan Greer

    September 4, 2012 at 10:17 am

    rolled shirt sleeves
    the fabric has torn at the edges
    frayed like little sentences rising from the seams
    i remember deft hands running a black stitch
    like a row of birds fastening the sky.
    i remember clothes more patch than anything
    each stitch a little word of binding.

    now the light comes through the cloth
    thinner at the elbows and knees
    worn from the way i’ve moved
    and bent
    and kneeled.
    held together by my mother’s stitch
    by her mother’s stitch
    by the delicate weave of history
    one strand hanging on to the one before

  146. YiShun

    September 4, 2012 at 10:39 am

    Just happened on this contest. Too late to enter, methinks, but here’s a vote for more contests like this. (The temptation to make up stories about these lovely, lovely photos is often too great to ignore.)

  147. Sarita

    September 4, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    Rolled sleeves, the wrinkles and scuffs of who gives a damn. A cap of boyhood covering an otherwise bare head. 77 years. Yesterday my father came home, his children rushing him with giggles and awestruck laughter. 67 years ago, his funeral. Decades of patterns spent pursuing an image of self – not knowing, but going. Lost in a reflection. 77 years find me reborn. Life slows down. There’s time to smile and look a stranger in the eye. Yesterday my mother walked her 6 children down the boulevard for school shoes. Today my grandson sits on my lap, eyes glistening as I tell him, yesterday I was boy. For this brief period, we alone amidst a world of chaos share this space. The ages of contentment.

    • Sarita

      September 4, 2012 at 1:31 pm

      Oh so i was trigger happy:

      Rolled sleeves, the wrinkles and scuffs of who gives a damn. A cap of boyhood covering an otherwise bare head. 77 years. Yesterday my father came home, his children rushing him with giggles and awestruck laughter. 67 years ago, his funeral. Decades of patterns spent pursuing an image of self – not knowing, but going. Lost in a reflection. 77 years find me reborn. Life slows down. There’s time to smile and look a stranger in the eye. Yesterday my mother walked her 6 children down the boulevard for school shoes. Today my children speak to me as if I were born yesterday. Jokes on them. My grandson sits on my lap, eyes glistening as I tell him, yesterday I was boy. For this brief period, we alone amidst a world of chaos share this space. The ages of contentment.

  148. Hoon

    September 5, 2012 at 3:57 am

    I know the smaller shadow than his body used to be longer and bigger when the sun was on his head. now his miserable shadow is walking into the other’s as he gets older. And in a minute it will disappear. But his fashion, the way he has been living, is going to hand down to my age and alive in here forever.

    I have a shirts that was handed down from my father. That was his favorite.
    It is so old and shabby that it is almost worn out. But It is a connection of us.

    Father, I believe You have always been at the every meaningful time in my life. when i asked her(now she is my wife) out, You made me look good and cool. when i put a first step into the career, you gave me a pride and encouragement. And most of all when Hoon(my son)was born, you inspire me what good father is. 

    Father, i miss you so much. How are you there?

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