Look Away

Gather, you beggars. Assemble 
like pigeons, seeking morsels of kindness 
on these filthy city streets. We notice but do not acknowledge.  
Or apologize. 
I cannot deal with all I see. 
Any spare change? No answer. No chance.  
I saunter by in my warm parka, well-rested, belly full 
of breakfast. I know no hunger, though not immune  
to the pang. Sunglasses shield my eyes.  
I have witnessed too much. 
There, but by the grace of God, go I. 
They remain. Unrecognizable 
even to those who have loved them. A person’s sister, somebody’s  
brother, somebody’s child. A somebody; 
another vacant bed or private hell 
another excuse or story to tell. 
We do not want to hear. 
Nor dare to breathe. Ask no questions. 
I am only what I ask myself to be. If 
charity begins at home, what then of the homeless? Nothing. 
I know where I will sleep tonight. 
Ashamed. I do little but look away. 
Filthy pigeons stare back.  
Then scatter. 
2021 j.g. lewis

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