Not Him

For Closure

For Closure

Let‘s walk among the crowds downtown
On an average morning
Hectic and harried, growing denser
Hurry along now
Past a doorman at a four-star hotel
Past a homeless man
A women arrives in a dark sedan
Every line screams privilege
Don’t step on his filthy blanket
Don’t look him in the eye
As the door man helps her, “This way, ma’am.”
Handing her from the car
He puts her luggage on a cart
Calls for a bellhop
Runs interference as she scurries inside

Hide the truth; avert your eyes
Though we all share the same skies

The doorman glares, again
At this visible wreck of a man
Flips open his smart phone
Calls the non-emergency number, again
He has it on speed dial
Finished, he says, “C’mon man, give me a break.”
The homeless man ignores him
(They’ve played this game)
Sitting in the sun
His back against the wall
The night’s chill still
Has not left him
And rich guilt has only
Brought a couple of bucks
And change
Still not enough
For a cup of coffee
And a pack of cigarettes

Hide the truth; avert your eyes
Though we all share the same skies

Cigarettes still a gnawing hunger
Yet she cannot smoke
In her room
Not in this hotel, this city
Should she care
That her craving is mirrored
By a marginalized man
For the same purpose
Far from the same reason
She worries the she won’t
Fit into her designer sheath tonight
He worries that he won’t
Beg enough to eat tonight
And, at this moment
They both stay at the same hotel

Time to move, time to move
On the street for lack of love

The man stands and stretches
Flashes his gap-tooth smile at the doorman
Who ignores him
Gathering his things close, in ritual
The man carefully rolls his blanket
Stuffs it in his duffle
So small a place
To contain a man’s world
Past and present
Hopes and heartaches
Dreams and disappointments
Vanished spirit
And the picture
Carefully wrapped and
Near the top
Of her
Wavy long brown hair
A twinkle in her eye
For him
How trite, he thinks
Yet true

If I lost my love
Or she were taken
I would wander through my days
Forsaken
Bereft of heart
And reason

I would walk down city streets?
Looking for a sign
A laugh, a word
A snatch of song
My face and my soul
Withered, wrinkled
Unwashed, uncaring and untouched

The woman waits now
In the lobby
She has changed
Her blouse and shoes
A man enters
Italian suit and style
She smiles at him
walking toward her
They embrace
As over his shoulder
She sees the homeless man
Head down
Walking slowly
Away

She pulls back and says something
To the man she’s with
He pulls out his wallet
Hands her a bill
Then another
At her look, angry, wounded
She hurries then
The man says wait
Toward the door, solace
Heedless
Her high-heeled sandals
Make it hard to run
Nevertheless she
Catches the man on the street
He stops
Hearing the sound of her heels
She takes his sleeve, tentative
Tugs
Presses the bills
Into his hand
Turns away

“Thank you,” he says
To her retreating back
And then looks
The money
A fifty and a twenty
“I can’t,” he starts to say
Turning around
If she heard him
She doesn’t show it

The sting of pride
Thought long forgotten
Spurred him
To reject a small fortune
His good fortune
He’s yet to lose his reason
Hard lessons taught him
He can’t eat pride

“Hey, lady,” he shouts
“Thank you.”
She almost seems
To miss a step
So swiftly, he’s uncertain
And she continues on
Into the lobby, gone
He slowly turns
Continues walking
Stuffing the bills deep
Into the pocket of his first shirt
The one deepest inside
Of the four he wears
He shakes his head
Then shuffles on

And both this woman and man
Both bewildered
Rich and poor
Will eat well this night
Only one
Will sleep well
It will not be him

 

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