No one would

Updated: Jan 24

A homeless man in front of the coffee shop door

Talking to himself

Laughing, then nearly crying

I wonder who he is talking to

His zip-up jacket hangs off his left shoulder

His beard and hair unkempt and long.


People breeze past him on their way

to get coffee and start their day

Avoiding eye contact with the crazy man

The lost man, the wayward stranger

Afraid of engaging or

recognizing something in his eyes

Afraid of his humanity.


What made him this way?

He was a baby once

An infant in his mother's arms

How did her baby end up here?

The lost man on the street

Blocking the door to the start of my morning.


Fear and annoyance first in my heart

Then pity for him and

anger at the system that

failed him

Then I just wonder if he'd like a coffee and

someone to look him in the eye.


His name is Curtis

He said my hair reminds him of

Marsha, Marsha, Marsha

and the barista's hair is the most beautiful

auburn.

Tell me how he remembers that word

but struggles to recall his own name?


He said some weird shit

something about Moses and

how he met him at the shelter

He spoke of various brothers

and God, like he's someone he knows

Mostly nonsense, but glimmers of lucidity.


His teeth are all gone except two on the bottom

Like my own baby boy, except that

this man's teeth are black at the root

His eyes are missing their light

Like a candle nearly burned out

He's there, but lost.


I told him I had to go to work, he asked-

You have a job? Can I go with you?

I'm a good worker, he said.

Have a good day, Curtis,

Sit here on this bench with your coffee

I press a spare quarter into his palm-

Black and dirty fingernails unfurl

and reveal a fistful of coins.


What will this man's day entail?

I just hope

people are nice.

Recognizing that no one would choose this life.


Maybe he's an addict

His mental health is a wreck

But he could be me,

or you,

he was once an innocent child, too.



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