Mistaken Words

With back against the brick-laid wall,
I muttered to myself
the ancient words of ancients past,
a mantra of the south.

A neighbor near then thought me strange,
a hoodlum clothed in linen,
and as he stood I heard him say,
“The kids today!” then walked away unbidden.

What I had said held no foul deed,
no twisted word or meaning.
The only thing I mentioned then
were words of solace, leaning.

I can’t recall the phrase I used,
my memory cloudy, distant.
I only know that what I said
to him had sound’ demeaning.

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