When I went to San Francisco for the weekend about a month ago, we spent the last day in the city, checking out shops, eateries, and bars. The boys wanted to check out Niketown--which I, of course, had no qualms about since I love shoes. Walking through Union Square, there was this homeless man that haunted me. People rushed by without a care in the world, not noticing him or, more likely, avoiding him. There was this small park in the center of all the shops and chaos, where sea gulls roamed and people freely fed them crumbs. It bothered me how easily people can give these intrusive birds crumbs but can't drop a few cents in a can or buy a homeless man some water, a $5 sub from subway. It is pathetic, really.
When we had gone into Niketown, we split up. It did not take long for me to look through the woman's department and figure out what I wanted to buy, but I could not purchase these dope ass red kicks I found without feeling guilty about the homeless man. I ended up "sneaking" out of the store and running the couple of blocks back to the homeless man, bought him a sandwich and a couple waters from a nearby deli and left him the change from the twenty--enough to buy the cigarettes or a small pint if the stereotype rang true. I never told anyone the story because, well, 1) I ran through an unfamiliar city by myself and did not feel like hearing any lecture, 2) I was always told not to leave money, and 3) good deeds done feel better when nobody knows.
The guy still haunts me sometimes, and I decided to try to write something about it today as I sat out by Reeds Lake and enjoyed the beautiful 78-degree fall weather. This is the first draft and I'm not quite sure how I feel about it yet. The images and emotions I wanted to evoke or portray are not there yet--at all; total bummer. Therefore, any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
His shoes were two sizes
too small, the toes pressed tight
to the tip. Nikes: white, gray, brown, red;
a rainbow of filth and dirt
that perfectly matched his skin
and clothes. Giants sweatshirt,
beige dusted corduroy jacket
with holes a fist size wide.
The jeans, once denim blue,
now faded to match the bubble gum
spat concrete he so effortlessly--
without hesitance--sat on, legs outstretched.
His hand, up and out, palm open, pleading
unlike his turned down head. Once
in a while, his hand with overgrown nails
caked with dirt reached for the coffee can
lying beside his leg--shake, shake, shake;
the rattle never came.
He looked up--for only a second--
to check out the street: the first time
emotion was etched on his rag
bearded face. Disappointment
had carved itself into the lines,
the hollowed out eyes. People raced
by, stepping over him--
they noticed him--
in a rush to get to somewhere better:
home to a hearty meal,
a high-end boutique to pack
their closet with more clothes
(some they will only wear once),
the coffee shop to fulfill their caffeine fix,
the jewelers to prove their love
we lack it for strangers.
"Don't give him money," the mother
tells her daughter--wasted cash
on cigarettes and alcohol.
The homeless are bums--no
ambition, dreams, drive.
Some, no hope, faith, love.
"Compassion," the voice whispers,
"makes this cruel world worth it."
Two water bottles lie unnoticed
with the deli sandwich
by the can--until the change
from the twenty clinks against tin.
Hope. His eyes dart up, confused, but pierced
with faith. Rebellion allows it:
compassion will reign.