Monday, November 28, 2011

Blood on the Tracks

It’s a wonder
That we can
Even feed ourselves-
Lyrics by Bob Dylan
Blood on the Tracks

I should be a really
Good poker player
By now
(Having had to play
The hand that fate
Has dealt me
Lo these many years)
But sadly
I am not
(A good poker player that is)
Mostly because
I have never really
Learned how to bluff successfully
Or how to hold my thoughts and
In abeyance
Long enough to develop
What is known
In poker playing circles
As putting on one’s
Poker face

People usually can see
Right through me
I have long been faulted
For the sin
Of wearing my heart
On my sleeve
It is not because
I am free from sin
(Far from it)
But rather more likely
I have never really seen
The advantage
Of living a life
That is all built
On a foundation of
Though I have been told
That the benefits of living
Such a life of
In this modern
Day and age
Is not only
Beneficial and
To preserving
One’s sense of privacy
(Not to mention sanity)
It is absolutely essential
If one is desirous of
Trying to preserve both

On my way home from
Work the other night
I was verbally accosted
By the
Homeless man
Who has more or less
Taken up permanent residence
On the row of park benches
Directly across from
The entrance
To the office building
Where I work

As I was walking
Past him
While I was
Trying to make haste
Enough to catch my
Soon to arrive
Bus ride home
I could hear the man
Curse and spit at me

He was speaking
Sotto voce
Although loud enough
For me to hear

White ass bitch!
He said
White ass bitch!

Perhaps he thought
He was back in
Lock down
In Holden or
And I was just
Another inmate
Who happened to
Come too close
To his claimed
Part of the exercise yard

He did not like
My attitude
Or the cut of
My jib
Or how I walked
Or talked

Or perhaps he just hated
Everyone and
Every thing
That was not a part
Of his delusional
And extremely
Circumspect and myopic
View of the world

How could he hate me?
He didn’t even know me!

And yet he seemed
To hate everything
About me

About me
And about the entire
And sheltered
That he perhaps thought
I had some how
Come to represent

I could feel
His hostility and
His hatred and
His contempt

White ass bitch!
White ass bitch!

His words hit me
Like a punch
In the face

I felt hurt
I felt angry
I felt humiliated
All at the same time

I wanted to lash back
I wanted to call the cops
I wanted to set him on fire!

But most of all
I just wanted
To slink away
To swallow my pride
To pretend that
I had not even heard
What he had to say

I stiffened
But I kept on going

After all I had
A bus ride to catch
So that I could
Escape homeless
People like him
Him and his
Whole homeless
Nightmarish world

So that I could
Leave him behind
And get on with
The rest of my
Mostly scripted
And yes
Way of life

I boarded the bus
And looked back
At the figure
In the shadows
Whose words
Still haunted me
White ass bitch!

I told myself that
I was being silly
That I should not have cared
As much as I obviously did
After all
The man is probably
Just crazy
And his words
The words of a
Crazy man

But I did care

I felt stung
As if I had been
Bitten by a bee

But most of all
I was surprised

At myself
And surprised at the
Kaleidoscope of
Emotional reactions
That I was still feeling

What if he had pulled
A gun
Or a knife?
What if I had been
Shot or stabbed?
What if?
What if?

What if our roles
Had been reversed?
What if I had been born him
Or if he had been born as me?
What if the shoe
Had been put on
The other proverbial foot?

Yes, yes
I know only too well
The meaning
Of the parable that
That there but for
The grace of God

Given all of that
Why was I still so
Surprised and upset
By how very much
His hateful words
Had hit home?

Philadelphia, Pa. 2011

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