An old man is sprawled
across my steps, in the night,
shouting for cigarettes,
crying out—as he does—
Lord, have mercy on a poor man’s soul.
Kill or be killed.
That’s how it was
in North Vietnam.
He’d said that and pulled out London dry gin
to wash away only God knows what thought that got in--
I do not understand him
but I understand him
better than I used to.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst to do right.
Have you ever collapsed the bridge under which you slept?
Leapt from your bed when the earthquake hit
or lay awake in it when the kids came to school
with black eyes and suicide eyes?
Blessed are the poor in spirit
but the kingdom hasn’t come yet
and the children are too beautiful for their own good
and I am not good enough.
I am on Your steps, crying
Lord have mercy
on Your poor kingdom