Spring 2010, Volume 8

Poetry by Paul Kareem Tayyar

My New Hero

I’m swimming laps at the Laguna Community pool,
The weather is perfect,
The water is 78 degrees,
And there are enough people taking advantage of the break from the rain
That there are no empty lanes for any late arrivers to use.

I have just finished my first set of laps when I see him.
God, he must be 85 at least,
His back hunched,
His skin weathered,
His hair entirely gone,
Sitting with his toes in the water,
A towel draped around his ancient neck.

“Excuse me, Sir,” I say to him,
“Do you want to share this lane?”

“No thanks,” he says,
“I can’t.  I’m too old.  My skin is so thin that if I bump into anyone
I’ll start bleeding terribly.  But it’s nice of you to offer.”

I wave at him
And start back the other direction,
Scissoring my arms and legs in time,
Trying to build up a good speed.

When I return from my second set of laps
I notice that the young woman who is swimming in the lane beside me
Has stopped to speak with the old guy.

She’s a stunner,
Twenty four or twenty five,
Long blonde hair,
Ridiculous body,
Bikini so small I could fit the entire thing in my wallet.

She says to him,
“Would you like to share a lane with me?”
To which the old guy responds,
“I’d love to, Miss. Thank you for asking.”

I stare at him as the girl goes back to her laps,
As he adjusts his swim cap and puts in his earplugs he says to me,

“It’s nothing personal, Kid.  At my age you do what you have to do.”


BIO: Paul Tayyar's two most recent books of poems are Postmark Atlantis (Level 4 Press) and Scenes From A Good Life (Tebot Bach). He is a three-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize and teaches English at Golden West College.