We know where the homeless shelters are,
where flattened men sit, warmed by liquor
and the collective conscience
of addition and handicap.
We’ve seen them
leaning against confetti-ed walls,
like flies on the carcass
of wasted years – a fading future.
We go to houses painted the shade
of a nightmare;
coats of fear and abuse building up,
concealing the shame and ignorance
of a life devoid of harmony
and strength in the daylight of love.
We sit in the foster homes
and place the injured offspring
into stations near the end
of an awfully short road,
with any luck - free of maltreatment,
but still choking with the exhaust
of separation and loss.
We glare past the packaging,
into the plastic hands of incubators
holding the two-pound result
of ambivalent conception and crack cravings.
We leave the county hospital startled
by the miniature creatures
and the tubes keeping their faint rhythms alive.
We ring the AIDS center - beg them for an opening,
drop her off at the battered women’s shelter,
and latter query the housing authority,
then sigh when we’re reminded of the waiting list.
Sometimes our hearts aren’t in it
and often we’d die for another profession.
But if God returns while we’re still here
and we find ourselves in need of His attending to,
at least we’ll know where to find Him -
beside us - the social workers,
down and dirty with the least of us...
by Joshua Pulis, LCSW