Tag: homeless man


May 10th, 2006 — 9:40pm

I helped a homeless man today.
Can’t say.

Maybe I just felt bad for him
This man
This white man
Who looked as if he had had every opportunity to succeed.
A pale face and blue eyes,
Sitting on a bench near campus
All I could think
Was, what had truly gone wrong in his life
That he, this man
This white man
Should be sitting
Asking for spare change
On a bench near campus?

Only questions came before me
As I past him by and by:
Why had God forsaken him so?
Did he believe in the same God that I know?
Was his begging only for show?
Did he look at me and see
Only a nigger, so low?

I passed him once and lied
“No spare change” says I
I passed again, but he remembered
And did not ask his question again.
I prepared to pass him thrice
When I heard him call out his words
“Please, I’ll take
A piece of pizza.
Not just change.
I’m starving here.”
I continued to walk
My own endeavour
Of finding that damn book
Maggie: Girl of the Streets
Now fleeting
I heard him say these words
And they struck a chord in me.
Had I not just passed a place
That sold pizza by the slice
For two bucks?
Had I not just pondered to myself
Whether I should splurge for pizza
Or stick to my goal of Chipotle for the day?
I had a choice
I had could make plans
I, who walked the street
In a Coach bag and sweatpants,
I, who’s “mommy” had come forth
To pay a ticket, one-thirty it cost,
So I would not have to give the money myself
I, who was about to go home play
On two personal computers
With everything in my life
Built my own way.
I, who had everything given to her
On a near silver platter
Everyday of her life…
Was I really going to walk on by,
Walk by as if I’d never heard his cry?

I had taken some steps to my car,
The car I took for granted each day,
When his words played through my head
Again and again.
How could I live with myself
For the rest of the day,
Seeing him thrice
And not giving a damn?
I would be no better than all those that I hate.
I would be the same as the greatest hypocrites to date.
The same, just the same.
Preach about poverty in America,
Write about utopian societies
Act like I really cared about my fellow man,
But walk on by like it did not matter,
Like his words has fallen on deaf ears.

When I’d first walked by him
I’d thought,
How could someone allow this to happen?
What had gone wrong in his life?
The second time I’d passed
It occurred to me.
I had no concept
Of poverty.
i could not believe
I could not conceive
Of a time or a place
That that could happen to me.
There were too many that loved
Too many that cared
Too many that knew me
To allow me to sit there.

And so his words echoed through my head.
And I thought of my soul.
How was I going to explain this to God.
Should that day come.
I heard and I felt for him
This man, this white man
But did nothing.
He was my brother through Eve
My family through Jesus
And yet I did nothing.

And so I stopped in mid sidewalk
Walk back to the shop
Where the little New York man
I’d conversed with many times before
Asked me what I wanted.
I bought a slice of plain cheese.
Two bucks, no drink.
I had things to do.
I was to be giving
But could not reliquish
That bitch within me
I returned to give
The man his requested slice
And found that he’d walked down the street.
I pondered then.
What should I do
Eat the pizza?
I bought it,
Why not.
Maybe go back and get a drink too.
The Christian in me
Or maybe it was only my humanity.
Picked up my feet
And I walked down the street.
Caught up with him and said,
“You’d asked for some pizza.
Here you go.”

He looked thankful,
So thankful
And told me such
I nodded and walked away
And while I walked
I saw them
Two white cops in uniforms white
Were coming to rustle
The “vagrants” from the area.
‘Course, the man had been loud
Not louder than too many others
I’d seen in that same spot,
But some uneased student
Or shopkeeper perhaps,
Had called the “po-po”
To remove this man
This white homeless man
From his bench.

I walked by the cops
And back to my car
No smile of self satisfaction
Came to my face.
No feelings of pride
Over what I had done,
No joy, no absolution

I helped a homeless man today.
Still, I can’t say.
I don’t feel like I’ll now go to heaven
For doing what was “right.”
I didn’t know the man.
I didn’t know his story,
But I just felt after all that I have
After all I’ve done.
I could spare five minutes
To help another.
Perhaps he won’t remember me;
Perchance, I won’t he,
But at least for one moment in my life
I did something,
Not because I felt God watching,
Not because I would feel like a better person for doing so,
Not because I felt my one act could save humanity.
I did something
Just because I wanted to.


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