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The sun is below the horizon and
light wispy clouds glow with
soft hues of red and orange.

I look down at my feet and
then pick myself up,
it's time to go.

In every direction people are
walking. Fast, like the world is
gonna leave them behind.
Important looking people, wearing
slender shoes and high heels. They look
straight ahead as they go, and
the traffic stops for them.

I grab my bag, heavy with
stuff, and step off.

They walk around me as if
I am a plague. I see them
coming, I try to find a kind
face but there are none so
I keep walking. My legs
ache, my muscles refuse
to move faster and my bag
is so heavy. My head feels
like a lead balloon that floats
with great effort.

12th and Mass. The ****** patrol
here at night, but now it's just
the walkers. A woman brushes past to make
the light, wiping her hand on her pants as
she does so.

I must have a disease. Everyone else
can see it and it disgusts
them. Maybe it's written on
my face, but I don't know.
My arm aches as I cross the
street, so I set my bag on the
sidewalk and rub my resentful
back.

Look in the trashcan, dig down
a little bit. A half-eaten burger
shines through the trash. Dig
a little further. The rats have
eaten well.

A man walks by, slowly towing a
small elderly dog behind
him. He has a kind face, shining blue
eyes that seek to connect without
speaking a word. He softly coaxes
the dog along with one hand while
holding two more in the other.
Everyone sees the tiny dogs. They turn
their heads, stop, crouch down, and
make baby noises at
creatures worth more than me.

I am surrounded by people but I
am not among them. I am the
vermin they can't get rid of but
wish didn't exist. Even the
pigeons are more welcome than I.
Yet I remain, unable to go
unable to stay.

The man walks by with the
old dog in tow; he looks at me and
I feel my power return. To be human
is not a permanent condition, but
a look from a stranger can
bring it back for a moment.

I ask him for money, spare change,
anything. He says he doesn't have
anything, but he's sorry, and
I pet the old dog.

Be gentle, says the man,
he's nearly blind, deaf,
and a bit senile. I pet
the old dog, his back hunched
and stiff, and he pushes his
body into my hand.

The small creature gazes at me
through cloudy eyes, wags his tail, and
lets out a grunt. For just a moment
I exist.

The wind on my face brings me back
and once again I'm surrounded by the walkers.
Cross the street, walk to Gompers Park,
or is it Compers?
The statue is imposing, and it blocks the
wind. The trees look inviting, but the
rats own those. So I lay out my blanket on the
top step and settle in.

The sun has totally disappeared,
the sky is dark but also not.
The traffic grinds on and the
people walk everywhere, but I am
totally alone.

Me and that dog and the
man with the kind face.
I wrote this sitting on a step in front of my apartment in Washington D.C. I saw a homeless man struggling with his bag, stuffed full of all of his belongings, to cross the street, and everyone looking past him.
Declan ODonohue Dec 2020
im standing in the rain
with $1000 of camera gear on my back
and all i can do
is gawk at the rainbow thats
shining over the capitol

maybe its a sign
or maybe my gear
will all go to ****
along with everything
else

but right now
in this moment
i can feel the rain
hitting my
hat
skin
shoulders
and
feet

its all around me
like a thick fog

the drops are heavy
like molten lead

each one
hitting my
skin

makes my body buzz

someday this rainbow will be meaningless
a glimmer of beauty for beauties sake

but today i need it to be a sign
that everything will be ok

so i say a small prayer
to myself
to the earth
to the half crazed sky above

and begin the two mile walk home
stepping in every puddle I encounter along the way
Declan ODonohue Feb 2020
I see a room with yellow walls and brown curtains, a small table and an old couch.

In the middle, a man, his chin down, the skin around his neck bunched up, purple, brown, red and yellow.

Somewhere there are people who love him, but not here, not in this room. Tomorrow everybody will ask why, but for now he is just there in that room.

Some days the man looks vaguely familiar, some days I know who he is, and some days I see myself swaying in that room waiting to be found.
Declan ODonohue Feb 2020
a woman stands in the median
on washington avenue
waiting for the traffic to cease
so she can cross the street
wearing a floral dress that
hangs off her round belly
her cardigan flapping in the wind
the bag in her hand full of groceries
she watches each car pass
and crosses the street when its cleared
and she walks off into the distance
moving slowly down the sidewalk
before taking a left several blocks down
and i wonder
in the morning
when she puts on her hose
and looks at the purple lines
on her legs
does she remember that little girl
who wanted to play the flute in 6th grade?
Declan ODonohue Feb 2020
I’ve never been decisive about anything.
standing in wal mart, looking at
two dollar fishing lures,
i research each model online
compare and contrast the styles
learn about the specific fish each lure works for
and compare that information to the location i want to use them at.
i am not a fisherman.
and yet, nine months after i met you,
i told my dad that i wanted to marry you.
a year after later i bought a wedding ring
without thinking about it.
i knew exactly what it should look like,
and bought the most expensive one i could afford.
when my parents forced me to choose:
you or them;
that was hard,
but only because i had fond memories of my childhood
that i knew i would never see again.
ive never been sure about anything,
ive always questioned everything,
but ive never questioned my love for you.
if breathing were a choice
i would put more thought into that,
but my love for you
just is.
Declan ODonohue Dec 2019
The sun is below the horizon
and the light wispy clouds
glow with soft hues of red and orange.
I look down at my feet and then pick myself up,
its time to go.

In every direction people are walking. Fast, like the worlds gonna leave then behind. Important looking people, wearing slender shoes and high heels. They look straight ahead as they go, and the traffic stops for them. I grab my bag, heavy with stuff, and step off.

They walk around me as if I were a plague. I see them coming, I try to find a kind face, but there are none so I keep walking. My legs ache, my muscles refuse to move faster and my bag is so heavy. My head feels like a lead balloon that floats with great effort.

12th and Mass.  The ****** patrol here at night, but know its just the walkers. One brushes past to make the light, wiping her hand on her pants as she does so.

I must have a disease. Everyone else can see it and it disgusts them. Maybe its written on my face, but I dont know. My arm aches as I cross the street, so I set my bag on the sidewalk and rub my resentful back.

A man walks by, slowly towing a small elderly dog behind him. He has a kind face, shining blue eyes that seek to connect without speaking a word. He softly coaxes the dog along with one hand while holding two more on the other. Everyone sees the tiny dogs. They turn their heads, stop in their tracks and make baby noises at creatures worth more than me.

I am surrounded by people but I am not among them. I am the vermin they cant get rid of but wish didnt exist. Even the pidgeons are more welcome than I; yet I remain unable to go, unable to stay. The man walks back by with the old dog in tow; he looks at me and I feel my power return. To be human is not a permanent condition, but a look from a stranger can bring it back.

I ask him for money, spare change, anything. He says he doesnt have anything, but he's sorry, and I pet the old dog.

The small creature gazes at me through cloudy eyes, wags his tail, and lets out a grunt. For just a moment I exist, and then I move on to face the cold night.
Declan ODonohue Jun 2019
sometimes when youre away
i feel like i am alone in a dark room
after the long summer is over
and all of the leaves have fallen
i feel their absence like a part of me is
missing
and when youre away
i feel like
there is
nothing
left
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