Thursday, May 13, 2010

Ode to a Barfly

Walk down a city street and look, I mean really look, at some of the folks you see there. Unless your heart has completely withered away, you can't help but feel compassion for those less fortunate than you.

Down by the mall the other day, I saw a man holding up a cardboard sign. On it was scrawled in black magic marker: "Not looking for a handout. Will work for food". Beside him and holding his other hand was a little girl with a dirty face, high-water jeans and a worn T-shirt, and a scruffy pair of sneakers. My heart went out to this man who looked so beaten down, yet still had his pride.

The same day, I saw a homeless family huddled in the doorway of an abandoned building just off the Boulevard. Their cardboard boxes, a makeshift home for the prior night's sleep, were damp and buckling under the light rain of morning.

It's so hard to imagine how this can happen in a country like ours, where even the illegal immigrants have more advantages than our own American families ...

Today something quite different caught my eye. I watched as a middle-age woman stumbled out through the door of a seedy downtown bar. She squinted into the bright morning sunlight and, losing her battle to stand upright, plopped down into a heap on the sidewalk. I tried to feel some inkling of empathy or at least some understanding, but all I could muster was pity. I couldn't help but turn my thoughts to the people I had seen earlier in the week who at least were trying ... and then my imagination got the better of me ...

Barfly: Woman in a Bar
by CJ Heck

A broken neon sign flashed "Mel’s"
atop a small darkened bar
on the edge of town.
The air, heavy with stale smoke and beer,
blended faintly with the odor
of dried spit on unclean bodies.

She sat at a small table alone
pondering the world’s problems,
two drinks past seeing
beyond the unkempt nails
on the chipped Formica in front of her.

The lines in her face
were knit as if by a palsied hand
dropping stitches here and there
where a pox scar decided to roost.

For her this was home,
at least until tonight’s john
with an empty glass
and full libido swaggered up
and invited her
to the nearest no-tell motel.

Life sucks
but it was her life,
and feeling in control,
a spider in her web,
she threw back another drink
and waited.

Have a nice day everyone.

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