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Oct 2013
For James Weldon Johnson**


the clock fast approaching
an appointed midnight click
it was time to punch in
for my avocational shift

we sauntered up creaky steps
of the old weathered rectory
its planks loose, its bricks chipped,
the gabled roof still leaking

a CDC on the outer verge
leaning over a bankrupt precipice
catastrophic failure predicted
from chronic cash flow distresses

we’ve  been on the ropes
since doors swung open
to fulfill a sacred mission,
25 years in the hood
keepin the devil in remission

a young ED with firebrand cred
emerged from a cubicle partition
his erudition and abundant zeal
would save many from perdition

he commenced his brief
in the entrance hall
laid out maps of the Silk City
articulating a canvasse plan
bereft of fear and blithe pity

he stood ***** announcing
the surety of his calling
handsome face and balding spire
lent a stern presence of authority

The PIT a Point In Time
Homeless Census annual review,
to root out and count the heads
of the lost and out of view

from Bed Stuy to Boston
Baltimore and DC
San Antone, Windy City Frisco
vols be countin to see

what happening with
America’s homeless folks
who, what, how they got there;
what can we do to help them
besides a hot, a cot and a prayer

last week in January  
in cities all over the nation
missioners fan out  to uncover
the most lowly of station

we’ll discover and recover
lost lambs and prodigal sons
we’ll find street walk daughters
falling through cracks
and criminals on the run

some junkies and crack pied pipers
be yodelling sickness, death and fear
mental illness, castaway children
may licit sorrowful tears

like gnats strained
through the gaping
holes in failing
social safety nets
this night is about
good shepherds
gone forth with no regrets

this mission
is most important
to our agency as well

each head you count
every calf you cull
the coffers of the
agency will grow

program grants are tied
to an index of misery
our streets give ample evidence
of an abundant presence in this city

no poverty pimps
work harder to improve
the blighted human condition
the quality of our work
speaks for itself
its no liberal sedition

we got a dog in the fight
that's undoubtedly true
tending to add an urgency
to the critical work we do

our shelter, food pantry
and job training programs
keep jumpers off the ledge
we attempt to arrest fallers
its the agency’s solemn pledge

for what profit a man
if he inherits the earth
and finds only strife
and devastation?;
community development
our diligent charge
workin hard to build
a better nation

so as your
caravansaries
cross the city’s
food deserts

to search the oases
of supermercados
surreal revelations
may manifest a few
midnight bizarros

E 18th St bonito bodegas
where long shot scratch offs
and stale coconut macaroons
staples of community sustainability
the hoped for lift from poverty soon

busy parsing the three squares
bagged in paper thin brown balsa
cool ranch dorito, a teriyaki slim jim
frothy Colt quart to chase
the winkin sip of dog hair gin

that's where this
story begins...

yes beloved
the road is wide
the gate is narrow
for the many prodigals
off the path living
a life of shadows

they're out there
trudging
making a way
through the  gloom
hoping to be given
one more day

sojourning on
trying to get back
to the ***** of love
searching for the room
lit with light from above

take courage beloved
know that Jesus walks
the streets with you tonight

he’ll be your
present helper
as you mine
the dank waste
of the desolate
factory shells
the post industrial
monuments to the
expended labor of
six dead generations
now squatter
encampments
for urban nomads
moving through
the sarcophagi of
a nations
wasted labor

remember
afterall, we are
all fallen people
hurtling downward
into torn safety nets
slipping into the
tattered threads of
a handy hangman's
noose

who among us
has not fallen
through yesterdays
best expired dream?
waking to find yourself
in a midnight
nightmare scream

we'll catch them
round em up
as their falling
to build em up
lost sheep knows the
voice of the masters calling

Jesus will
walk before you
as you enter the
closed parks
were swings
of life fly
high and low
merry go rounds
zip by like a terrible
carousel that won't stop
to let you go

and may the
Good Deliverer
guard you as
you descend
into the screaming
rooms of
condemned
crack dens

here the fallen
angel finds comfort
in the resounding
chorus of misery
woefully regretted

Lucifer eloquently
hums beguiling
holy smoke tunes
to his doleful
acolytes sadly
lamenting
bluesy
blue
blues

you are the
Good Shepherds
leading the lost
back through
the gate

tell the beloved prodigal
children that the good
news of salvation
patiently awaits

we lucked out
its warm tonight
for the past few years
its snowed

heres a clipboard
filled with questions to ask
a box of supplies for lost sheep
and a yellow plastic poncho
so the cops know
you're one of God's own


Mary Lou Williams
Black Christ of the Andes
Praise the Lord

Paterson
1/30/13
jbm
Part 2 of extended poem Silk City PIT.  PIT is an acronym for Point In Time.  PIT is an annual census American cities conduct to count the homeless population.  The Silk City is a nickname for Paterson NJ.  An ED is an acronym for Executive Director.  A CDC is an acronym for Community Development Corporation, a non-profit agency that provides development services to urban communities.  James Weldon Johnson is an African American poet.  This piece is written in a style and manner of God's Trombones.
James Bradley McCallum
Written by
James Bradley McCallum  New Jersey
(New Jersey)   
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   Hedonic Nihilist, ROBYN YOUL, ---, ---, Ottar and 2 others
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