His voice is soft … but his words drop my jaw.

Thanks, bitch.”

The unknown man says bitch the same way anyone else would say lady

I hear no animosity or bitterness.  I sense no barbs and dodge no jabs.  In fact, his tone sounds grateful for the food and the twenty I’ve given him.   

He looks into my eyes.

I know him.

He’s been homeless – begging along this highway – for at least four years.   And by now, every passing motorist is an affluent bitch or a bastard

In four years he’s lost fifty pounds.  He’s acquired a shuffle and a yellow complexion. 

And the light in his eyes has become something terrible. 

four years
traveling nowhere
on an empty stomach
nothing but gravel
in your Horn of Plenty

“I don’t know whether I was the boxer or the bag.”

Carpe Diem

In Greek mythology, the constellation is sometimes identified as Amalthea, the goat that suckled the infant Zeus after his mother, Rhea, saved him from being devoured by his father, Cronos. The goat’s broken horn was transformed into the cornucopia or horn of plenty.”   (Wikipedia)

The tanka is also my entry for 30 Days of Haiga:  Travel

traveling nowhere haiga

47 thoughts on “four years

  1. Pingback: Owen | Girlgoyle. Banished.

  2. Pingback: Four Years - bookscover2cover

  3. This is so powerful … and very moving in its unsettling way … a piece that made me reflect on the many beggars I’ve seen throughout my life in many countries. In some places being a beggar is less shattering perhaps than others. In the “land of plenty” where so much is pinned on success, as though success is some sort of sign from God that one is a decent person, I think it must be shattering indeed.


      • You wrote an effective story … its so sad to see how life has reduced some of us … I often think about what might have been … when a child comes into the world, there is always so much hope and joy …


        • It really is. And what is bad — the boro already cut down the forested area that this man used to take shelter in. He’s been moved around here and there – no pity, no compassion. And look what it’s done.


        • Just heartbreaking–moved here and there, like he’s a stick of wood, not a human being with a heart and soul…and gifts to give if someone would notice and receive them. Sigh… It way too damn prevalent in this progressive, wealthy society.


        • Spoke with the man very briefly about a year, year and a half ago. He’s a welder and his cancer is job-related, from what I understand.
          Could be any one of us, really. There but for fortune.


        • Oh my–I give you credit for having so much heart to speak with him, acknowledge him. With cancer, I don’t imagine he’ll be around much longer–he’s probably looking forward to his release.


        • Honestly, I am surprised he is still around. It was a relatively rare cancer, and his life on the road would take a toll on even a healthy body. And I say these things as a survivor myself.
          The change in his eyes surprised me more than anything. They’re what made me remember him to begin with. A kind man, he seemed. He was. Not sure what or where he is now.


        • Yes, you never know what course cancer–or anything in life will take. I just know he must have been deeply blessed by your attention, as it may have been all he got. I have to believe God was/is looking after him.


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