Those grim boys, all smoke and greed.
Those tender men, broken by loneliness.
Give a bowl of soup and bent spoon.
Stand back in case of splatter or forgiveness.
Those shivery dames with the voices in their heads.
Those rat-a-tat guys stamped in fear.
Those hungry babies shredding cries.
Take the prayer out of Sundays and use
cheap paint to fill in the holes.
This population has re-located
because hope has gone down the tubes.
That was how we said it in Pittsburgh.
Down where the dank sludge collected,
where there was no coming back.
At the stoplight, I watch someone in the car
in front of me hand out two strings of red licorice
to the man holding his cardboard proclamation:
“Homeless. Please help. God bless.”
I can’t hear his reply but he doesn’t take the candy
and I’m glad when the light turns green.
Mercedes Lawry has published poetry in such journals as Poetry, Rhino, Nimrod, Poetry East, The Saint Ann’s Review, and others. She’s also published fiction and humor as well as stories and poems for children. Among the honors she’s received are awards from the Seattle Arts Commission, Hugo House, and Artist Trust. She’s been a Jack Straw Writer, a Pushcart Prize nominee twice, and held a residency at Hedgebrook. Her chapbook, “There are Crows in My Blood”, was published in 2007 and another chapbook, “Happy Darkness,” was released in 2011. She lives in Seattle.