A pleasant seat of a sidewalk cafe
Over mocha coffee and a crème brulee
Amidst genteel ladies and white tablecloths
And, unobstructed, a view across
An elm studded park with closely mown grass
Nestled between urban concrete and glass -
Serenity in a turbulent sea.
Why then would young mothers draw their children near,
Not for cuddling but with presence of fear?
He shuffled up the walk with seemingly no mind
Of those around who avoided a sign
That would draw his attention and likely request
For money. (In order to lessen the chance,
Avoiding eye contact works the best).
The Downtown Salvation Mission Retreat
Serves those of his ilk just down the street.
By day their throngs disperse like flies
In summer heat to shadows and shade
And reappear as evening tides
Pull them as cattle to trough,
Obliged to give their souls in trade
With prayer for another meal.
Between stocking cap and jacket collar
His face stained brown from dirt on dirt
And deep lined crevices dark from squalor
Gouged by wind and cold,
He fumbled at his pocket for a lone cigarette,
Fingers shaking with the paper matchbook,
Searching which end to strike,
Oblivious to the time he took -
A three minute ordeal for a ten second task.
And quivering lips sunken from too few teeth
Sucked as discreetly as obvious would allow
From a brown paper bag, the poor man’s flask.
Judge him and judge him harshly,
Whatever loves he might have known
Lie squandered in another life
Through no fault but his own,
And dread from fear of tomorrow
And sorrow over times long now gone
Extend no further than this hour.
He paused, unaware the blight he posed
obstructing the tranquil view of those
who sipped mocha coffee over white tablecloths
and spoke of coming weather