Old Towels

“A young ballplayer once driedRed Towel
his hands on me,” says a pale
grey towel, the one with the red
wine stain that would not wash out.

“I was once a pretty lime green,
like the tile through the chlorine
of the fresh swimming pool
where I used to lounge
on a lemony table of iced tea.”

“The hands that reach for us
have grown effete, too.
Their grab and rub and snap
lack a former vigor.”

The old towels hang whipped and frayed,
lopsided and wrinkled, once plush nap
now mashed bald and threadbare.
The old towels dangle on bent nails
in a dank garage, reduced to rags.


  1. bristlehound says:

    Dilapidation Joe! The process by which we all succumb eventually.
    Your Peter Pan Towel, is struggling with it’s own towelity and needs to seek solace from towelling council.
    No towel can live forever, nor can it expect to play a role of vitality in the great sports- mad world of today, whilst it is frayed and barren. A towel needs to be up for the challenge.
    My advice Joe would be to pitch this self-indulgent, melancholic piece of over-used and under- appreciated piece of common cloth and get a new one.B

    1. Joe Linker says:

      Very good advice, B. Where were you when I was still playing softball, with the old Louisville Slugger glove. But I can’t cotton to it, to a new towel. But that “self-indulgent, melancholic piece” does work as a definition of many poems.

      1. bristlehound says:

        Your poems are great Joe.
        Your towel, however needs a good deal of understanding at this critical time of its life.
        By the way, I have still a beach-towel I was given on the occasion of my 11th birthday, some decades ago, and there is no chance of that being disposed of.

  2. dianawestrup says:

    Well, Joe, it seems we all end up like those pieces of rag (!). We start getting stained and washed-out and our dyes start fading. However, yesterday I received a Brand new magenta hand towel from a dear friend. And I appreciated the gift, as it is so humid here in Cancun that we do sweat like pigs… (lol). I like your writing, it seems to me very sincere and authentic. Keep it up!

    1. Joe Linker says:

      Thx, Diana…The towels tell stories.

      1. dianawestrup says:

        I am soooooo glad mine haven’t yet!!! ‘Cause if they could talk… OMG (lol).

        1. Joe Linker says:

          Oh, that’s funny.

  3. Sad. I really feel for those old towells. I also feel like slapping that young towel round the head.

    1. Joe Linker says:

      “Middle English: from Old French toaille, of Germanic origin. The verb, originally meaning ‘beat or thrash,’ dates from the early 18th century. The sense ‘wipe with a towel’ arose in the mid 19th century.” <Google Dictionary.
      [1250–1300; Middle English (n.) < Old French toaille cloth for washing or wiping Old High German dwahilla, akin to dwahal bath)] <The Free Dictionary.
      Toss in the towel and draw the bath.

  4. Too true, old towels hang out in the shed!

    1. Joe Linker says:

      Yes, and while one word towel used to suffice, now we have bath towels, hand towels, tea towels, dish towels, and a towel horse. They all become shed towels.

  5. monalisa smiles says:

    wonderful showing of the telling of feelings for growing older, less useful; and the memories, like rags, hanging there. i love this poem.

    1. Joe Linker says:

      Hey, Lisa. Thanks for reading and commenting. Hope all’s well. Yeah, can always snag a new towel, but what to do about the hands?

  6. Dan Hennessy says:

    A fine example of homatrohiccontabulism . When does a towel become a rag ? Do we really , outside of poetry , care ? Is the wine stain significant ? Can a cloth’s feeling be hurt with flippant commentary ? Did I mean to say threadomorphism ? I am not a poet .

    1. Joe Linker says:

      And when we run out of towels there’s always the wet blanket.

  7. There’s also such a thing as recycling :)
    Which reminds me of a story I must work on.

        1. Joe Linker says:

          Patchwork? Writing is like quilting. Is the story going on the blog or sent out? Wld like to see it.

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