He was one of those men whose
Age was impossible to
Ascertain – he likely was not
As old as he looked because he
Appeared ancient. Bedraggled,
Poor, shuffling along in shoes
Three sizes too big stuffed with
Socks that hadn’t been washed in
Months. Or has it been years?
Worn out coat pulled tightly against
The bitter New York wind, hands in two
Sets of gloves, also worn. And yet,
He looked happy. He smiled at passersby
Not with a smile seeking anything other than
Giving away some strange joy that
Rested within him in spite of being an impoverished
Homeless discounted black man in
America the White.
Past the humming neon
Past the blindingly lit high end
Stores where stylish young
Women took platinum credit cards out of
Four-thousand-dollar purses to pay for
Yet another pair of eight-thousand-dollar
Shoes too uncomfortable to walk in.
Past the Lamborghini and Ferrari
Dealership where glistening vehicles
Await the princes of this world and
Past the jewelry cases full of diamonds and
The exclusive trendy restaurants where
Couples routinely spent a thousand dollars
For dinner before setting out for the
Theater box seats
Not a hint of envy in his visage as he
Shuffled along, nodding and smiling his
Greeting to the shocked who mostly
Looked away either in shame or in
Embarrassment or in arrogance.
Small children unskilled in proper
Class etiquette smiled back not knowing
The danger of admitting humanity.
Through Times Square, past
Rockefeller Center with towering
Blinking Christmas tree and laughing
Ice-skaters. Past the theater district, he
Shuffled along without a token for
The subway where more fortunate
Homeless people slept in urine-soaked
Pants, McDonald’s wrappers at their sides.
On he walked, still nodding, smiling at
Passersby, through the financial district where
Young men in ten-thousand-dollar suits sped
Energized into fast-forward by caffeine and
Cocaine. Far too busy to even notice him as
He turned down alleys into places only
Ragged and broken people know exist.
There, he paused, moving slowly from
Cardboard shelter to blanket bundle to
Dumpster to grate where steam emerged
From a nether world where dogs licked
Scraps of bone.
There, he knelt, and touched, and
Smiled. There, he wiped faces and held
Hands. There, he prayed and sang
Soft lullabies his mother taught him
Before she died so young so long ago.
There, he waited and watched as
Sirens screamed while far above an
Infant wailed unceasingly, her belly
Craving food, any food,
Any at all.
There, he held a sick old woman as she
Shook with the chills of fever and wretched
With vomit. He did not seem to even
Notice the smell of feces, garbage, rot,
Urine, vomit, and cheap whiskey that
Combined to meet the hot steam as it
Joined the frigid winter air.
Friends of his arrived in twos and
Threes as subway cars roared off
Clanking towards another stop. Their arms
Were full of blankets and boxes, the
Boxes filled with meals of protein and
Grain. They greeted him with embraces,
Returning his smile as they wrapped
Cold bodies in waterproof blankets and
Handed out meals to hungry hands while
Spooning food into those too weak to
Here was Christmas
Here was Kingdom
Here was King
Here was Cathedral
Here were Christians
Here was love
But the world did not notice.