Saturday, April 14, 2012

Artifacts

Clothed in the artifacts

of pity, his voice hoarse

with pith balls and winds

into a knot of phlegm

as he gains our assent

to speak for the poor.


Cellular on hip, self-help

pamphlets in shirt-pocket

lend authority to the words

that have travelled the subways

for thousands of miles.


His look into and beyond us

induces the gall of guilt

or the gorge that rises

at the smell of urine

and mold from the bodies

of the unclean, a place

he sleeps at night, the dirty

rumpled clothes confess.



The offerings he receives,

a jelly sandwich on white

bread, cans of corn, and other

throwaways no one wants.


His Passion Play nags conscience

not so much because it's real,

as that it could be. Our poverty

of spirit feeds on the ambivalence.

So the bills and dimes fill the dirty white

cylinder with a slot at the top

and the lid taped on.


The lucre of our fear that we might

starve and bleed on concrete

as the wolves pass by with red eyes.

(c) copyright 2012 Charles David Miller. All rights reserved.

24 comments:

  1. Wow... deeply dark and disturbing for its truth. 'and, there but for the grace of God, go I.'
    Another sad, fabulous image filled write Charles.

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  2. wow..another excellent piece charles..you captured him so well...but what really hit me was that you capture the emotions of the observer so detailed, deep and like a picture i can see and touch...and what a great closure as well..

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  3. Dang! Brilliant, Charles. I know exactly who and what you're talking about, and yet... I don't. I've not walked in his shoes, but thrown them away, for him to somehow find. Great write! Awesome!
    http://charleslmashburn.wordpress.com/2012/04/14/ah-the-aroma/

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  4. Once, my car broke down after work, in the middle of the Bronx at night. No one helped me except a homeless man whom I had seen/not seen countless times in the entrance of the parking lot.

    Your poem reminded me of this somehow and touched a hidden place in my heart. I feel sort of sad now, my conscience alert and ... I want to read your poem again.

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  5. This is brutal in its raw reality. Damn fine write.

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  6. Just so you know, I love your writing and would leave you way more comments if I could manipulate your blog more easily. But I have the hardest time scrolling and commenting. It's quite frustrating, as I so enjoy your work.

    I love these lines, Chaz:
    "Clothed in the artifacts
 of pity"
    "Our poverty
 of spirit feeds on the ambivalence.
"
    "The lucre of our fear that we might
 starve and bleed on concrete
 as the wolves pass by with red eyes."

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  7. Fantastic read Charles. Really like the tone through and the ending is exceptionally strong, that last stanza and a half are simply put great. Thanks

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  8. nice..this is an excellent capture charles...i know him well, i used to hang out with the homeless and vagrant in baltimore all the time...take them lunch and eat with them, still do in many ways...i figure i am one step from them often you know...some really nice phrasing though through out this and great detail that give the texture... flow as well brother...

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  9. This hit me hard Charles. I sometimes wonder how we would missed His Passion play, but we do everyday...we turn a blind eye. I specially like the last stanza ~

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  10. You capture a lot of depth here, Charles, and explore a lot of what we ignore as we walk by every day. You have a gift for drawing out meaning from the things most people don't even think about or try not to think about.

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  11. this had me pause and I thought for a minute, of how many points you had for us to reflect upon. well after reading your work.
    http://leah-jamielynn.typepad.com/blog/2012/04/a-day-on-the-platform.html

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  12. Exactly true. I often thing about the ones "the wolves pull down" when I pass people holding signs on busy intersections, and when homeless people ask for money in odd places..gas stations, grocery stores, and a guilt always goes with. We're a cold society I think. Brilliant, bitter, insightful work! Wonderfully writen.

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  13. A very raw, emotive write...the last stanza is brilliant.

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  14. Deep, dark, mysterious and compelling.

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  15. The subway preacher--the voice of the disenfranchised. Being fed from the guilt of the if totally not well-off, at least fluid people, afraid to look him directly in the eye lest they become the same. I liked this a lot. Much to think about here. Well penned, Charles.

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  16. Artifacts of pity is such a great phrase. The other factor that plays here of course is the automatic feeling people get not to be taken advantage of. There's such an interplay here (in your poem) and reality between fear, irritation, boredom, generousity, anxiety. K.

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  17. to me "passion play" was very interesting. a lo of people are making this into a drama. a lot see something spiritual. but you made this like a religious drama!!

    alive on subway senryu

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  18. Dark and perhaps more disturbing is the reality of the write. Fantastic adventure thru the darkened tunnels, where heaven seems to far away!

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  19. Tough subject to write about chaz- The subway is always the place where unfortunate souls seem to drift (except in the UK the police kick them all back out and into the cold it seems)- thE line that hit me hard was 'our poverty of spirit feeds our ambivalence'- I agree wholeheardky with this- and there's something miraculously absolving about tossing a bit of change into that plastic cylinder- lord knows what would happen if we actually cared- great write chaz- tough and mean and gritty- my fave kind

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  20. dark & raw
    just the way i like my poetry, charles
    love: 'Our poverty/
 of spirit feeds on the ambivalence'

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  21. Oh, were I not already sitting I would have needed a seat after this. The entire write is gripping, but those last two stanzas - damn. "There by for the grace - go I..."

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  22. "His look into and beyond us
    
induces the gall of guilt
"

    You got the whole scene in those two lines. The eyes of those on the street--those passion play eyes, indeed--are different than any other suffering class, including the starving. Perhaps it is because many had pasts that mirror our own present; hence, the ability to look into and beyond us, and hence, why they induce that guilt (and terror that we could be them one day).

    Brilliant write.

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  23. Hi Charles - I had not seen this one - an all too familiar scene on subway, although there's been a crackdown on the UHO people I think. That's all aside from the point - I always feel (as the poem describes) that even if the person in front of me is not everything they say, that they are still pretty troubled/down to be doing this at all, and, of course, that there are plenty more who are real and are suffering. Your description is spot on of the guy, and of course, the surrounding discomfiture. k.

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