Men at 80

His back bows
to the weight of his years
He shuffles to where
the groove of his leather chair
to cradle
his tired bones
The beat of a Bosa Nova
fills the room.
His eyes fold inward
Gray stubbled chin rests
against his chest
But his feet…
His feet dance
with bikini-clad girls
On the sun drenched sands
of an Acapulco beach.


  1. Sarah Freligh

    Jayne, I am so rooting for this guy to even MAKE it to his chair! The short lines work great to build a suspense there–will he? won’t he? — as well as mimic the stop/start I imagine as his gait. So when the Bossa Nova came on, I was even more delighted and positively ecstatic when the old guy ended up (if only in his mind) surrounded by women in bikinis. Acknowledging, maybe, that men at 80 are not unlike men at 20 or 40 or. . .

  2. Jayne Martin

    Men never grow up. 🙂 Thanks, Sarah. I was completely unsure of the line breaks. You know what a newbie I am to poetry. Just went with the rhythm in my head.

  3. Len Kuntz


    Holy crap. I loved this. Bosa Nova added so much tenderness and specificity. The title does so much work as well. And his eyes “folding inward” is so unique, yet easy to visualize.
    It felt haunting but also triumphant, which is a terrific combination.

  4. Robert Vaughan

    Hi Jayne, love the understated imagery and calmness of this endearing sod. Nice use of the sensory, and imagery (Bosa Nova), bikini-clad, etc. The feet dancing (in his mind) in Acapulco, when the body perhaps is no longer capable, is so dazzling! Our memories serve!

    At some point (not immediate) consider the left flush capitalization and enjambment (I see your comment back to Sarah earlier). The more you write poems, the easier these choices are.

    But you can also study examples of the masters (obviously), especially contemporary non-rhyming poets. (Sarah used some great examples in yesterday’s course!)

    • Sarah Freligh

      HA! I’ve been writing poems for longer than I want to remember and can STILL sit for hours stewing over a single line break, here or here? Argh.

      The Laux poem has some masterful line breaks (they all do, really), but “Catch” is one I’ve come back to wonder at how she does what she does and why.

    • Jayne Martin

      Thank you. I’m happy you like the overall story and feel of the piece. Your encouragement means a lot. I’m totally bullshiting my way through this poetry thing. 🙂

  5. Koss Just Koss

    Hi Jayne. Love how you convey once-lived with vivid images. The poem has two halves, the difficult air and silence of now, and his music-instilled memory of living. I think it would be a bit stronger with some rephrasing of this:
    “the groove of his leather chair
    to cradle
    his tired bones”

    I’m not entirely convinced of the groove “awaiting” but I like the idea of the groove, which suggests time (smart choice). Possibly “tired” could be replaced by some kind of apt word. I love the spareness of this and what it does overall, but because it’s so minimalist, it might benefit from a tiny bit of experimentation with these simple words. Lovely poem!

    • Jayne Martin

      Thank you, Koss. Your suggests are very helpful. I’ve copied them and am pasting them into the poem word doc to refer to as I rewrite.

  6. Francine Witte

    I love how he is still young inside and thinks about dancing.

    I agree with Sarah that the short lines really serve the poem well. Almost makes it feel like a dance.

    Great job.

  7. Anita Brienza

    Ah – love the contrasts with memory/fantasy and reality, “shuffles” and “dances,” the physical limitations of age v. the limitless physicality of the mind. Lovely story in such a compact frame, Jayne.

  8. Andrea Marcusa

    Oh Jayne, I just LOVE this! The rhythm, the images, the short lines, it is all working. This feels very finished to me. Great work!

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