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Untitled Poem

The tattered, filthy, stinky man
Slumps against the dumpster.
His eyes are glazing, glassy, and
His hair is mussed and knotted.
Heroin and ashen blunts:
His dearest, only friends.
No wife, no kids, no parents, and
No friends to give him shelter,
He wastes in hazy loneliness and
And offers up his tithes
With needles and syringes that
Can offer no solution
But help to dull the throbbing ache
Now that everyone’s gone.

Striding by, the businessmen and
Women in a hustle,
On their way to primp accounts
They simply can’t be bothered.
“He didn’t work quite hard enough,”
They think to still retain
Their bootstrap-yanking outlook
They worked so hard to gain.
“’Cause if I helped him, how would he
Learn how to help himself?”
They pass with snorts and
Held-in breaths, the less they
See the better.
Unaware that they, they, too
Are drinking from the gutter;
Those crisply-tailored power suits
Are masking flesh that’s rotted.

Now walks by a mother with her
Small and spoiled child,
A twelve-year-old she must protect and
Shield from the wild.
They have too much of what they need
Yet share it? They will not.
They’d rather zip up leather coats
The cost of small apartments.
Besides, her kid must never see
This brokenness of men
’Cause what if this experience
Will scar her little girl?
Will strip away security and
Blessedness she feels?
What if, then, her dearest love
Can’t actualize herself
And therapists will blame the mom
For stunting all her growth?
She cannot bear the thought of
This and yanks her daughter close.
She scurries frightenedly away
To take her daughter home.

Pastors, priests, and church members are
Passing with a shuffle,
Tugging down their holy hats to
Walk right past the wretch,
Or crossing to the other side
For paltry ignorance.
The man wants help but cannot call,
They think they need not help him.
They find excuses, justify
A way to keep on walking:
“A drug-addicted sinner, he,”
They whisper to themselves,
“God helps those who help themselves,
Not those who live in dumpsters.
Besides, he’s probably gay and this
Is now God’s punishment.
So let him rot while we all fly
to take our sacrament.”

The man who lays against the trash
To sleep away the drugs,
Whose stench brings tears to passing eyes,
Whose clothes are full of mud,
Is dearly loved in Jesus’ sight,
The One to whom we claim
Our deepest loyalties and love,
Yet will we do the same
Deeds of kindness that He did and
Asks us all to do?

Maybe it is the poor man’s fault,
Maybe he’s addicted
To drugs and booze and prostitutes.
Should that change how he’s treated?
A man who bears God’s image,
Who God loves as a child,
A man who could be anyone
If we had different luck.

Are we simply inward-focused?
Honestly, I ask.
I’m concerned with lights and sound
While many scrape for food.
Do I care enough to tell them
Answers that I’ve found?
Or is my church to me a club,
A place where I can be
With other people in this city
Who all are just like me.

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Danny Nathan grew up at Grace participating in the music and worship ministry. He’s currently a worship leader at Grace, ushering people into God’s presence through song in a variety of venues, including our Sunday worship services and Grace Students gatherings. Danny is a graduate of The Ohio State University with a degree in English. In June 2016, Danny married his high school sweetheart, Alli.


2 Responses

  1. Evelyn Mason says:

    Beautifully written, but achingly real!

  2. kelly reichert says:

    wow. amen.

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