The Watcher….

The Watcher is a rather lengthy poem that offers the reader a mind’s-eye view into the thoughts of a person suffering from a rare form of color-blindness where nearly everything is a shade of grey or at best sepia.  It presents an interesting and almost visionary approach to how those who cannot see color feel about its absence in their life.

The Watcher…

Waits, in careful observation of a non-descript bistro table

Flanked by two wrought iron chairs,

Painted black or something dark, in a matching hue

Flowers blooming in the concrete planter on its right,

Open space on the other side

Delicate pink azaleas nestled beneath a potted golden maple

They seem to lean out, stretching as far as they can

While releasing their intoxicating scent in every direction

Rich dark green foliage on the perimeter

Keeps them from toppling to the ground

Only shades of sepia to the watcher

Concrete beneath, clear skies above

Fifteen paces of separation

And a clear field of vision

The Waiting…

Commences an hour after noon has past

The only traffic, the remaining

Lingering couples stretching out their leisure moments together

Clandestine afternoons soon coming to a close

As servers gliding in remind them of the time

Settlements and gratuities

Dishes gathered and whisked away

A last sip of tea, and goodbye

Another coffee yields a measure of time

An allotment of the watcher holding space

In another wrought iron chair

Close, but not too close

Fifteen paces of separation

Memories, in color, the only cartographic connection

Now it’s just waiting for her to arrive

The Vision…

Was a sight that even in reality recalls an endless string of defining moments

But with such an unexpected arrival

The sight rendered a state of confusion

When instead it should have registered something akin to awe not seen in some time

As if the forces of imagination were in play

Spilling their entire pallet on the canvas of said sight

Where what is and what should be, simply become words in a vacuum


Their physicality nothing more than a myth of their mechanics

The non-descript bistro table

Also holding space in plain sight

No tender required

The utilitarian objects firmly established as stages for future scenes

Where verses aplenty shall be spoken

Or not, as the moment has yet to decide on the outcome

From thoughts, perhaps speech


The Arrival…

Would be something of splendor

As the expectations were low for success

Thoughts of a quest and the empty-handed returning knight

Crossing other thoughts, creating an idea

But one which was quickly acknowledged and just as quickly

Momentarily put on hold in an extended pause

While all the sounds of the world reduced until mere whispers

One physical vision took control and the figurative vision was granted leave

Eyes locked

As she slowly threads her way through the maze of wrought iron

Splendor it seems has chosen to offer a reward to the faithful watcher

Another step closer

The empty table beckoning

Her comfortable spot that’s warm but not too bright

Familiarity of past encounters

Thoughts dwell on the staged randomness of her attendance

Dark locks hanging loose

Skin, pale like alabaster

Eyes, haunting and sadly beautiful, admiring nothing but the cracked pavement below

While her grace carries her closer

The Cigarette…

Is the key to understanding and more importantly, interpreting things

While trying not to make eye contact with her

The watcher bides his time

Careful glances for split moments

Focusing while she’s distracted with her order

Excitement held in check by sheer willpower

As if trying to time a volcanic eruption

Or the moment a levee decides to break

And when the server returns everything changes and suddenly it begins

The beauty of color in a black and white world, if only in pieces

The first sighting

Appearing in her drink as it’s presented

Dark red wine in a shapely glass

Smiling lips of light rose

Emerge from the shadowy smoke of worn sepia

A grey butterfly suddenly awash with azure

Becoming colorized in her presence and then again to grey as it flits away

Silver reflection from her cigarette case

The watcher openly staring as the length of white is gently removed

And ignited in a burst of flaming butane

Keeping count of the passing seconds measuring

The long inhale of the first drag

Pleasure on her face

Her bosom rising as the moment grows near

Eyes closed in near perfection

As if she realizes what’s about to transpire

The Exhale…

Of steel grey and blue smoke

Emerging from her lips in a rounded cloud

While the second hands slow in an unsolicited solidarity

Time it seems is also immersed in the exhalation

Where a single cloud somehow gains purchase of the surrounding air

Coagulating and separating

Somehow aligning into more than just spiritual imagery

The watcher watching how effortlessly the threads present something to see

Mediterranean frescoes

Flowers of celeste, magenta, sandstone, and mustard

Dark vines of hunter and forest green snake up the pale limestone walls

Long-since abandoned color pallets on display as if somehow

The guiding hand of an ancient master

Is developing this presentation of possibilities

And yet everything in proximity remains nondescript and grey

Expect the artwork in her cloud of smoke


Has already started to fade away

Reverting back to the smoky components of its construction

Taking the color

Taking it away

The Moment….

Leaving the watcher with nothing more than a precious memory

With no expectations of a repeat performance

And no opportunity to capture the vision

Just a quiet reflective splinter of time

To savor and retain the colors

As if memories could serve as printed pictures

The watcher, with eyes closed, concentrates for a precious few seconds

The wrought iron chair no vacant

Wine glass non-existent

And everything once again a dull pallet of shades of grey

Offering a simple cue

To stand and walk away


An encore

On a different day












Latest posts by R J Schwartz (see all)

R J Schwartz

I write about everything and sometimes nothing at all. I'm fascinated by old things, rusty things, abandoned places, or anywhere that a secret might be unearthed. I'm passionate about history and many of my pieces are anchored in one concept of time or another. I've always been a writer, dating back to my youth, but the last decade has been a time of growth for me. I'm continually pushing the limitations of vocabulary, syntax, and descriptive phrasing.

3 thoughts on “The Watcher….

  • March 1, 2017 at 9:44 PM

    Very interesting and different, this world of dark, light, grey and sepia. He seems to have once had color with his vision, for he has memories of colors when he closes his eyes. Makes me think of the old black and white TV and trying in my mind to put color to the screen images. Very expressive and well penned, Ralph. I enjoyed reading this poem. Great work.

  • March 1, 2017 at 10:08 PM

    Very well written Ralph, on an unusual subject that evokes many questions and thoughts as to how we all see things differently. Well done my friend.

  • March 2, 2017 at 11:34 AM

    Actually I was inspired by a drawing I encountered while searching for something else – it was very crude (on purpose) and had a silhouette of a woman with an exhaled cloud of smoke and somehow I saw a building in the smoke, which led me to start writing what turned into a lengthy poem. Instead of writing stanzas, I tried this approach.


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