Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Somebody's Son

There he is again holding a sign.
“Down on my luck”, it says.
He stands at the intersection while drivers wait for the light
to change.
He is a young man with an old beard.
His clothes are dirty and his shoes are untied.
He is somebody’s son.

I have seen him at this place before.
Sometimes he has a dog beside him.
The dog looks better than he does.
Can't he get help from his family?
How many other intersections does he frequent?
Is he really down on his luck or is this a ploy?
He is somebody's son.

When it gets cold and wet outside, where does he go?
How does he care for his dog?
Where are his friends?
Has he worn out his welcome?
Drivers avoid eye contact with him.
You can imagine that doors are locked if they were not locked before.
Hurry up red light.
Change, so we don’t have to see him,
this young man who is somebody’s son.


  1. Barbara---
    This is a poem everyone can relate to. Most ALL of us try to avoid eye contact and conversation and involvement, yet we also wonder...
    I wonder if you might want to get into the drivers' heads a little more, as well as "explode a moment," adding more to the last stanza. When I try to avoid eye contact, I also make little furtive glances, because I'm...curious?
    Depending on the weather, I count myself fortunate that I'm not out in the cold, without shelter, or I'm not out in the sweltering heat. I think of the support I've had that helped me out of an occasional dark abyss. I wonder what kind of wasted potential the homeless person represents. What gifts are we missing out from them?
    I also wonder if you might consider putting the last line from each stanza all by itself---double space between the line before and the last line---and perhaps use a "dot dot dot" after the line "Change, so we don't have to see him..." That line is really powerful, and with no real space around it, you're almost throwing it away.
    Of course, if you change it, the rhythm of the piece changes as well. You are writer, so of course, you choose whether or not to change your piece. However, my philosophy is this: whenever you get a suggestion, as you re-examine your writing to determine if you are going to take the suggestion and make the changes or not, your understanding of the writing piece strengthens.
    One of the Donald's (Murray or Graves) said that writers live life twice. Barbara--you certainly are able to make the ordinary extraordinary...

  2. The line that is so powerful is your, "He's somebody's son." We forget that or at least try and forget it.

  3. Sioux,I so appreciate your suggestions. Your insight is very helpful. I will see what I can do. Keep those suggestions coming. Stay cool.

  4. Wow, Barbara. What a powerful piece. You have captured not only a picture with words, but a wealth of emotions.
    Donna V.

  5. It really makes you wonder what happened in his life, or perhaps his mothers, that brought him to that point. Good piece. Thanks for sharing.