Canines and Glasswear

Hands of Homeless Man with Change in Cup

I passed by you every morning on my way to work
I never gave a thought, nor a look beyond
what I’d normally give a stranger.
But you were more than a stranger; you were stranger than stranger,
you were just strange. You and your ripped jeans, shaddy jacket
broken boots and skinny ass dog.
You’d sit there smiling.
What the fuck do you have to smile about?
You’ve got nothing, no home, no family, no friends,
no ability to better yourself, and your dog’s gonna die and you’ll be alone
and I couldn’t figure out why.
So I sat one day and I bought you some fries at my lunch and offered half my Coke
and I asked you, I said “man, please, I need to know
how it is that you get by day to day without me ever seeing
a frown on your face, dispair in your eyes, as you sit on the street corner
watching people in their work outfits, suits, dresses, skirts, shoes that cost more
than you earn in a month. How do you watch them walk by with a smile on your face
as you sit and beg, you outstretch your arm, cup in hand,
being chided, chastised. How do you sit there every morning
and have hope, sit in the cold, in a Canadian winter,
with a half a fucking jacket, your poor dog freezing beside you,
no food, no water? How do you keep yourself positive?
How is it that my coworkers and friends, my family and myself,
we all get down, we all show our other side, we all have an other side?
We all live our days working and making money,
you sit here in ratty clothes begging for help
with nothing to show for it but a chipped cup, yellowed teeth,
glassed over eyes, a nappy beard, and a lifeless life.
What is it that you have to offer, what is it that you can teach me,
that you can offer as advice, that I can use to keep positive on those cold nights,
those times when I miss my friends and family, when I feel alone and empty,
when my life feels pointless? What is it that you know that I don’t?
What has the road taught you? What do I need to learn?”
And you looked me square in the eyes and said, “heroine and prostitutes” and got up and walked away.
You died the week after, stabbed under a bridge by the water. You made the papers.
You got famous that day. The city knew who you were, Facebook groups cropped up in your honor.
A homeless man leaves only a cup and a dog.

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