Saturday, September 10, 2011

My Neighbor

He has to scrape his pockets
to find enough tobacco to roll
enough change for a bite to eat
he works my corner, has to build
clients with his engaging smile
sometimes urgent he asks, lady
any spare change, to buy a jolt
to get him through another day

he'd been missing for awhile
my husband said on vacation 
styling in the islands probably
he was in the hospital, diabetes
proudly displayed his syringes
he is a simple soul yet streetwise
he's learned to survive but never
prosper except with little gifts

he had to go to St. Vincent's
way downtown for his visits
doctor, labs, insulin syringes
asked me for subway change
I gave him a card with $11 on it
don't spend it on anything else
how would I do that he asked
he takes me for a fool I guess

Next day I see him wearing 
ten hats, sombrero, cowboy
assorted others, huge smile
a twelve pack on his shoulder
this bold man, I shook my head
then tapped my foot, he cut
around me roaring laughter
I let him pass with dignity

My neighbor

for Sunday Whirl
urgent, simple, pockets, jolt, build, how, dignity, cut, bold, scrape, roaring, pass


  1. Nicely controlled and nicely expressed - a clear moment and place. I felt I could see your neighbour - our neighbour so close really.
    Clever response to the prompts.

  2. An excellent use of the wordle to paint this portrait of your neighbor. I could see him at each stage of the poem.

  3. Your relationship with your neighbor is felt in this piece...a bit of teasing and joy run through your exchanges. Excellent write. It's beautiful . . . if this man is your neighbor, he is a lucky man, indeed.

  4. Strong images here tell a strong story!

  5. Thank you everyone. He used to be my neighbor, my street corner was his, when I lived in NYC.

  6. I feel a touch of sadness in this, too...

  7. This man knows how to make a living. It reminds me of many times we've been fooled by the people begging on the streets. I know it's sad but some say they make more money there than they can at minimum wage. I don't know how that could be. I don't like giving to people on the street. I give to other causes besides the next drink (high possibility).

  8. What a poignant character study this is, Willow. The ending says so much about your heart ... you let him pass with dignity. I know you could not take that away from him. Excellent poem.

  9. A really strong and well observed character study. Thanks for sharing this story.

    A good use of the wordle words. :-)

  10. Nicely done. Good fit for the wordle words.

    The professional panhandlers working a busy corner will clear several hundred dollars in about four hours--tax free. Those who aren't addicted to something (rare) live well.

    The really down and out street person doesn't do nearly as well. They don't have the skills needed to be personable and talk with the marks. Mostly, they just want to be left alone.

    As a cop, I've had to move them out of the street when they became a traffic hazard. For the most part, they are decent people and interesting to talk with.

    The only ones I ever worried about were the psychotics. It's a shame there are so few hospitals that will take them in a treat them anymore. There just isn't enough money.

    1. Yes, the psychotics did scare me. I had man of the poem on my corner, next corner uptown, psycho man, though I'm not sure he wasn't an act. Wow, a cop, hard job.

  11. Wow! I love where wordles take people. Such unexpected stories and images. I love the way this flows together with the little unexpected word combinations.

  12. A perfect urban poem. Reminds me of the questions my son asked my wife as she took him to a daycare center in San Francisco before his school started this year. We live in the suburbs, and he saw people like your neighbor for the first time.


  13. This is very good, a wonderful slice of life :o)