Monday, March 22, 2010

In This Town

In This Town

Under the wrinkled


He stood, and I,

Puzzling out the note

Above his head,

Almost missed his own,

His crayoned willingness

To work for food.

He wasn’t fit for work,

Anyone could see,

At least not any work we’d

Have in this dear town.

And as I watched the locals

Move him on along,

I thought how often

We must beg forgiveness,

For we know not what or who

We do not do



  1. I've written two short stories about two different homeless men, prompted by that "not knowing." Who are these men and women, and what has led them to this life? Should we have to know, to care? I like the tone and cadence of your poem.

  2. There is the first sign of instruction and the second sign of construction. Is it better to instruct or to at least try to build? Even though there is no building being done. I would rather see one make the offer than one make the one offering move along.

  3. i like the sadness and the hesitance of the words and the rhythm of the poem.

  4. Your poem is beautiful, with a perfect rhythm, Karen, and it broke my heart, for I often think of these things and I have no answer to them and no consolation.

  5. I like the sentiment of this one Karen, all the more pertinent in these troubled times.Perhaps we should remember all of us are but a few wage packets from the cardboard sign.

  6. I loved this, Karen. The same line "Will Work for Food" appeared in one of my poems too, and my mother chose a different path in response. Your final line is a killer.

  7. beautiful and very moving. says so much in so few words
    thanks for sharing

  8. Delicate and really effective.
    his crayoned willingness
    to work for food - great lines

  9. Poignant, Karen. Thanks for this glimpse. And lesson.

  10. This was very nice - a rmeinder without being preachy and sanctimonious. A treat.

  11. Karen: very quiet and beautiful poem, Karen, and I just loved the subtlety of these two lines;
    Anyone could see,
    At least not any work we’d

    And the ending is terrific.

  12. Love the bus badge!Great idea.How d'ya do that?

  13. You ended with a very good point –
    we know not what or who . . .

    The poem was compact and well done.
    As Jason said, poignant.

  14. You say a lot through a few words. Got me thinking! :)

  15. Annie - Every time I see someone in this situation, I wonder what his or her story is. What brought him to this? What separates me from her? I think TFE said it well - we could all be just a circumstance away from being this. I'm glad you're writing about this, too.

    TWM - I agree completely. I do my best to "judge not" and remember that many times, these people have mental illnesses (some of which have been caused by the circumstances We the People have put them in).

    SzelsoFa - I think I read on your site recently about the unemployment in Hungary right now. It's the same all over. Jesus said, "The poor you will always have with you." Right again.

    Vesper - Me, too. I think you and I are sisters in spirit.

    TFE - I agree with you completely. We need to be mindful of that all the time. It could be me...

    Chris - The conversation you and I had after your post about the cremating mother sign sparked me to write this. I actually did see the No Panhandling sign, too, and the way it was wrinkled from wind, I guess, made it say o anh dling. All of that became this. I owe you.

    crazyfieldmouse - Thanks from coming out of the field to visit here and for your kind comments.

    PureFiction - I couldn't manage vitriol, so this is what I came up with. Thanks.

    jason - Thanks.

    Argent - Thanks. Sometimes just showing what you think is enough.

    JoAnne - Thank you. The area where I live is rather "upscale" compared with the rest of our state and region. I think we've gotten above our raising, as my old dad would say!

    TFE - It's okay with you? I'll send you an email.

    jack - Thank you. Sometimes I worry that I don't go on long enough, but once it's said, it's said. I appreciate your feedback.

    Nikita - Thanks for visiting, and I appreciate your comments.

  16. Karen-
    tomorrow could be our turn at the corner. nice post~rick

  17. dead on - "this dear town" is particularly searing - lord forgive us all.

  18. Rick - You are so right. I remind myself of that everytime I see these folks.

    joaquin - Yes, and that "dear" part really sears me. I grew up in a poor, rural area. We probably had more than most because my mother worked (when other women would never do that). I have always retained my "poor" heart, and I do not ever look down at anyone who has less. I live now in a relatively affluent area, but we have pockets of poverty that break my heart. Not to have compassion? I can't even imagine what sort of hard heart that would require.

  19. This is so very touching Karen. I could never be more thankful to my Dad. For he worked to pay for his schooling and college to get where he is now and made sure my brother and I received the best of education possible.

  20. Ani - Your father has blessed your family with his love and values and hard work.

  21. Oh, Karen. Your heart is so beautiful, and this poem is so true. Someone else mentioned the cadence, and I quite agree. It is perfect for the poem. As for the theme, it is an important one. The number of homeless folks has increased with the Recession, and many shelters are struggling to keep up. I agree with you that it doesn't matter who they are or what they have done with their lives, though. Human beings are human beings, and we should have compassion for them all. Wonderful work, sis. Please forgive my slowness this week. I have been a bit under the weather. I'll be back to pestering the world again soon:) I hope your weekend is awesome.