Thursday, January 10, 2008

Somebody's Child


My courage eludes me,
my steps quicken with my heart.
Careslessly,
I discard my pain,
a dead leaf
no longer required,
almost embarassing
to my bourgeois
serenity.

If only I dared
linger,
I could read
yesterday’s news
on your
blankets -
yet another celebrity’s
antics
warming your
only home.

But I can only look into
your dog’s eyes,
seek
his dark love and acceptance -
and even that
only for a second
while I drop my clumsy offering,
and wonder if it will
ever
carry me
over my personal Styx.

THIS SIDE UP on the walls of your castle,
flickers at the edge of my vision,
in the shade of these canyons
of concrete and glass,
while,
sobbing inside,
for you
and for me,
I run back to my
unbelievable
good fortune,
forever knowing that
you too
are,
were,
somebody’s child.

20 comments:

SzélsőFa said...

A truly heartbreaking approach on an everyday scene in a big city. The fact that homelessness has become an everyday sight itself is disgraceful.

strugglingwriter said...

Very good work.

I have often thought this but I lack the skill you have to actually put it into words. I think of the time I spend with my daughter, the late nights, the preparing everything, the laughter, the smiles and then I think about the people that do bad in the world (note I'm not lumping the homeless in with those people). The people who commit heinous crimes were/are still someone's child, brought into this world with so much hope. This makes me sad.

Anyhow, great piece here. Really makes you feel for those less fortunate.

Wayne said...

Gutwrenching.

Aine said...

Becoming a parent certainly adds a new dimension to our perspective of the world. We are all human.

The deinstitutionalization (geesh-- is that a long word!) movement (of the mentally ill) in the 60's led to much of the homelessness that I see in Philadelphia. (I realize that some of the homeless are not mentally ill, but I think those who are not are more active in finding shelters and seeking help.) As a student, I completed an internship in a "state hospital" where the most severely impaired folks live. Only about 25% of the facility was in use because of insufficient funding and the movement towards outpatient programs and home services. That was 14 years ago-- the facility has become even smaller since. Many folks who should be receiving care through outpatient programs choose (thanks to impaired reasoning) not to attend. And, they end up homeless because they can't function independently. It is a very sad situation. Just because their neurons don't function as mine do.

Your poem captured the complex thoughts and emotions beautifully.

Emperor Ropi said...

very sad

Ello said...

Wow - hard to look at and hard to read and yet a must read. I find it extremely difficult on my conscience to see the homeless sometimes. For I don't know what to do and yet I thank God it is not me in their place. You have captured me in this piece. It was truly a wonderful piece.

Church Lady said...

Your words make me cry because they are true.
We are all somebody's child.

Vesper said...

Szelsofa, thank you; as you said it's an everyday scene. What's even sadder is that it happens so much in "rich" countries.

Thank you, Paul. We give all we can to our children, at least most of us, and there comes a point when there's nothing more we can do - they're on their own. Some have tragic destinies. It is indeed very sad...

Aine, it is so sad what you're saying. I didn't think that these homeless people could be also mentally impaired - it makes it worse.
Thank you.

It is, Ropi.

Thank you, Ello, we think the same. If I were one of those people who have millions and billions of dollars, I would know what to do... Instead it's just a dollar here, a dollar there, quickly, then thinking of something else...

I'm sorry to have made you cry, my dear Church Lady, but I thank you for telling me that it happened.
Yes, we are all somebody's child...

Vesper said...

Wayne, yes, but necessary. Thank you.

Taffiny said...

I dislike this topic, as I dislike this current part of reality, but I found your words, your way of wording beautifully chosen.

I know not all homeless are mentally ill, but I think it is a great disservice to let mentally ill people, who have troubles with rational thinking, be left to make their own decisions on whether or not they need treatment (and be left to the streets). Same with people with extreme drug addictions.

I fear in the quest to preserve personal liberties, we have gone a bit too far, in that now people can't get the help they require, unless they ask for it. (or until they recieve treatment, while housed in jail if their lack of reasoning encourages them to commit crimes. This is how my brother-in-law came to recieve treatment, and I fear also how my half brother will.).

Jon M said...

Powerful writing, Vesper, quite moving!

Absolute Vanilla (& Atyllah) said...

Beautiful, powerful and so tragic, Vesper. Ironically, it was a scene not dissimilar to what you describe in your poem that inspired my previous manuscript - a story about street children but one filled with hope.

Hoodie said...

You touched on some familiar emotions in a such a moving way.

This is painfully beautiful.

It's a topic I can't give much thought to because I can't afford to fall into anguish. I do what I can when I can, but for now I'm pretty powerless.

witnessing am i said...

Vesper, I swear I commented on this piece. My apologies, because it appears I did not.

This is a beautiful. A gentle reminder of not only who the homeless are but who they were (in becoming who they are). They were someone's child, they had childhoods, and hopes and dreams. They had some good times and, probably, a lot more bad times. But beyond their state in life, beyond our conceptions of them, and beyond what their futures hold, they are people, human beings, first and foremost. For afterall, perhaps that is the only thing that separates us -- the "good fortune" you mention.

Mediterranean Views said...

You have eloqunetly captured what I have felt too many times. Amy

Vesper said...

Thank you, Taffiny. It's very hard, I know. I'm sorry for your brother-in-law and your brother. I hope they get as much better as possible.

Thank you kindly, Jon.

Vanilla, thank you. Interesting. It's a painful topic, but I'm glad that your story is filled with hope. :-)

Thank you, Hoodie. Given the choice, I don't think of that either because, as you said, we're pretty much powerless.

David, no need to apologise! Thank you for coming back. I think it happened to me over the last few days. Comments I thought I had written just weren't there anymore...
Thank you for your kind words. Yes, I believe we were/are very lucky...

Thnak you, Amy. I can "hide" in the suburbs, but it pains me every time I go downtown.

Bernita said...

Touching.

Vesper said...

Thank you, Bernita.

John Eaton said...

Just lovely, V.

Happy New Year. :)

Vesper said...

Thank you, John.
A Happy New Year to you too.