Friday, September 16, 2016

New Poem--about the Homeless and Hungry

[All names in this poem are fictional]

The Deep-down Loneliness of the Homeless and the Hungry

Again and again I have noticed the deep down loneliness
Of the homeless folks who dine with us . . .

Liz, now walking with a cane, sneaking around the church
Looking for a cranny where she can spend the night,
Her mind a jumble of sweetness and anger.

Stanley, dressed impeccably, looking like an insurance salesman,
Wheeling his cart full of his possessions. I wonder
Where does he sleep? How is he able to clean up,
Present himself as if he is some upper middle class white collar guy . . .

Jimmy, looking much older, talking to himself,
Friend to my blacksheep cousins—could have married one of them!

Erin, who eagerly hugs Cathleen, then comes to the kitchen while we are cleaning up—
To hug her again.
He looks like he should be able to make it,
But something mysterious holds him back.

I look at the beautiful children, daughters and sons of the Homeless or Hungry,
Wonder about their futures. Right now many of them are happy, carefree.
One reminds me of my beautiful grandsons!
Where will they be in January, when Lake Erie sends us feet of snow and blasts of bitter
Cold? I think: I could help these innocent ones . . .

Jack sitting all day near the wall by McDonalds, with his homeless cart,
What does he do, how does he spend his time?
Another Jack, looking like an Indian,
His hair pulled back in a ponytail,
Sometimes very sweet, sometimes staggeringly drunk.

Most have their routines, lunch at the Salvation Army, supper at St. James or St. Mary’s,
Sometimes enough coins scrounged for McDonalds,
Mornings and afternoons at the Morley Library,
Nights at Project Hope, or in some car, in an alley,
An abandoned building, on somebody’s porch,
In a tent by the Grand River, in the woods behind the power plant.

So little comfort in their everyday lives, lives we can barely understand.

I hope we bring them good food two nights a week,
Some companionship, some kindness,
Some beauty,
Maybe a laugh . . .

Wish we could do more . . .

Bob Coughlin / September 15, 2016

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