Not all of my poems are about sunsets, the beauty of cobblestone clouds, the wafting scent of roses. Life has a gritty side, too, and some of my poems reflect that.
This encounter came a long time ago at a bus stop, a favorite trolling spot for panhandlers.
There was a time when I would almost automatically hand over a bit of change. I could remember tough times, too.
But I had grown tired of being hit up day after day. My initial response was not very charitable, I know, but I relented. I imagine there's a lesson in there someplace, perhaps having something to do with the poor sparrows of this world.
The poem appeared in Pebble Lake Review's Fall/Winter issue of 2005, and now is part of a manuscript (Strawberry Wine) in search of a publisher.
And here it is:
Suddenly he's in my face,
dirty, wind-blown, muttering,
Spare a quarter? Refusing to let
his question assault me,
I turn away. Then back. My own
No, can you? comes spilling out
like a shot, freezing us there
in the snow-blasted morning
until finally his uncertain
chuckle descends into breath-
stealing, chest-stabbing coughs
and I fish deep in the warmth
of a pocket for a quarter,
hand it over, stand watching
as he moves away, this poor,
tattered sparrow with his crumb.
Today's word: tattered