I Was Young Then

I wrote this yesterday while taking one of my frequent walks. Well, actually, I just thought it up while walking, and wrote it when I got home. The portrayed visit and watching the people actually took place when I was in my late thirties, and the image and thoughts it stirred in me have remained for all these years.

I Was Young Then


Not even forty

On a visit to Florida

A retirement community

Where my friend’s grandma lived


I marveled every day old guy walking

At the constant parade

Old folks, walking ‘round the block

Hundreds of them it seemed


In groups, pairs, or alone

Marching with dogged determination

To a drumbeat I’d never heard

Toward what? … the end?


I smiled and watched them

Waved if they looked my way

Thinking they were trying to avoid

The unavoidable


Pushing a worn and tired body

Trying to slow down the aging process

I shook my head at the futility of it

… I was young then


Copyright © 2013 C Mashburn


I’m hoping this one will fit the dVerse prompt this afternoon, but if not, maybe I’ll post it there on Tuesday’s Open Link Night.


  1. That’s so poignant …. ‘To a drumbeat I’d never heard’ ~ great line.

  2. Mary said

    Well, at least they were out and about walking!!! Ha, I see a lot of ‘young’ people walking around the block as well…..dogs in tow. And gosh, I just finished a circular walk with hounds too. We are all moving in the same direction though, aren’t we? No avoiding the eventual destination…….

  3. i was young then…and now perhaps we understand just a bit more…you had not heard it before but now…maybe you have…very cool write charles…

  4. Ha Charles – you capture something we all (it is to be hoped) discover. Yes, they are very dogged – wonderfully told here. k.

  5. Laurie Kolp said

    So sad, reflective. At least they’re out getting some exercise.

    • It is sad, though I didn’t intend it to be that way so much. I was mainly pointing out that now I’m the old guy walking!

  6. Grace said

    Our perspective changes when one grows old ~ But then again, what is old to you ~

  7. Having been raised by my grandparents I can see this in my mind too. Love the line ‘trying to slow down the aging process’ as it seems that is truly what they are doing, or perhaps racing towards the heavens. 🙂

  8. Tony Maude said

    Trying to avoid the unavoidable … there’s an entire industry dedicated to that, and another dedicated to covering up the failure ofthe first. Getting older is not much fun after a while, but it’s a journey most of us have to take.

  9. claudia said

    To a drumbeat I’d never heard…love this..and yes, we don’t understand when we’re young… my mom was working at a home for old people and sometimes i went with her..it was a world i found difficult to digest..

    • Yes, I used to be quite curious about old folks. Now, I’m quite curious/concerned about the younger ones.

  10. So much we see clearer and understand better as we “age” also:) Really liked this poem:) God Bless

  11. Yeah, our perspective certainly changes with age, doesn’t it? I like the contemplation.

  12. I was young then… I love that end. We will all be there.

  13. I always struggle to accept my grandparents ages as I want them to be the same age they were when I asked them years ago. Aging is such a journey/trip. It’s loaded with wrinkles and memories and buckets of stories…

  14. Adura Ojo said

    Like you said, the character was young then. Perhaps they would have a different view now. Not so much futility, but appreciation. *Smiles*

  15. Adura Ojo said

    My link for the dverse challenge (not my current post):


  16. heidi said

    “I was young then” is a perfect ending for this poem…very nice, Charles.

  17. Excellent poem here…such an apt title…we see things differently when younger…there are many retirees here where I live and they go out walking or riding their bikes everyday…I think it’s wonderful…actually on the boardwalk they have photos of long time residents when they were young and photos of them now they’re older… I think it’s a great idea and throws a perspective on life. Terrific poem Charles one of your best!!! 🙂

    • Thank you very much, Dianne! I’m glad you like it, and I appreiate the awesome comment!

  18. Charles said

    We know now don’t we 🙂 I’ve done a lot of rambling in my life, and it seems that sitting has now become my past time. Damn the movies, damn the books, damn The poetry.

    • I’m pretty sure I know exactly what you mean, Charles. I’ve been a rambler all my life too. Pretty settled in nowadays.

  19. Truedessa said


    Always an interesting piece to read..my question is this what is age..to me age is a frame of mind… I like how you repeated the title in the ending.

    • Oh, I agree 100%. I don’t feel old, but yet the number is getting larger.
      As for repeating the title, I’ve always loved doing that. I will sometimes finish a poem with the same line I started with. It seems to give the line power, and drive home the point.

  20. Ha! A tribute to life’s journey ~ I like it Charles.

  21. Rowan Taw said

    Hey, my Dad was almost seventy when I was born, so new life blossoms even in older branches!

  22. As a kid my grandmother lived in the projects and most of the residents were elderly I used to go around the neighborhood visiting everyone and listening to their stories

    • That’s awesome. I loved to listen to my grandpa tell stories. I learned so much from him!

      • Honestly they had some really amazing stories =) I wish I had learned more about my grandmother on my dad’s side, she was Cherokee and I would have loved to know more about her life on the reservation but my grandpa was a right evil bastard so my mom made me keep my distance

      • The funny thing about my grandpa and his stories; I don’t remember the stories so much, but the way he told them.
        Too bad we don’t listen when we’re young!

      • I don’t know about you but age has taken my memories lol I am 32 when I am actually elderly I worry my head will be empty! I could also definitely improve my listening skills.

      • Uhhhh… I’m 62, and I don’t remember what we were talking about… 🙂

      • lol that is exactly what I am talking about

  23. kkkkaty said

    I find this uplifting for it means we’ve lived…outlasted many..and not sad but bittersweet..keep walking 😉

    • Yes, Katy, this can be viewed from many angles. I’m now one of the walkers, and it doesn’t make me sad. I love being outdoors, and I love the exercise. I’m not getting older, I’m getting better!

  24. We are all unknowingly moving across to join the other camp as we grow. Lovely description.

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