Saturday, August 26, 2006

City Streets

City streets,
Blaze now under an unforgiving summer sun,
To freeze, come February, solid against shuffling feet;
Pulsing concrete arteries,
Flowing asphalt veins carry life along to
Nowhere certain,
For wavering, too-often futile purpose.

People everywhere,
Some rushing,
Barreling along toward a day’s mission,
Others stalling, lingering at corners,
Seeking small refuge, a pause to know, to obtain;
Food, a concern to all—some for too much,
Many others for much too little.

Children in tow or nearly unattended,
Wide-eyed with wonder,
Pushed hard against pain, hope, hunger, fullness,
Whatever arrives, the next thing;
Holding onto adults, not knowing where the path ends,
Not caring—for this is not what children
Are born to do.

Work needing doing,
Focused folk with clear assignments,
And, to those who seek anything to fill a day,
To bring a check for getting by, there is hope;
To form a career, to feed a kid,
To have a home,
To avoid city streets for at least a night, again.

Streets fill up and overflow with sounds,
Music—too loud a celebration;
Old cars with smoke and squealing tires;
Children laughing, crying, playing;
Breaking glass, roaring buses, gliding trains,
Popping shots--cruel, automatic, rapid fire--destination unclear,
Add fear to those who hear, listening for such.

Church bells ring, calling some faraway faithful to pray,
While just outside on an old, low, failing wall,
Those without church or home or fitting clothes or recent bath,
Sit and watch parishioners march toward holiness;
Ignored by all but a rare few,
Not simply too busy, but so unattached
To this sort of thing or matter that
No space remains for caring.


Anonymous said...

The word "holiness," emblazoned such,
is a plate beneath the crust of the
your subject,

expected and yet, rubbing abruptly against
the unseen undesired,
shakes the very stability of

my otherwise comfortable afternoon.

in the place where I often perceive
my own idea of wholeness (if not your word),
clad in the pallid walls that serve
not to hold up, but out,
guarded by an earthly castle's stoic doors,
barricaded against such realities,

I shall pray,
not for me, not even for them,
but for us,

our fates so tied together.


Larry James said...

Strong exegesis of life.

Anonymous said...

It is sad, though, that I knew I would sit in the pew and be affirmed in my feeling of distance from the poor... the exact feelings I had this morning as my prayed in the air-conditioned luxury of our church.