Thursday, February 26, 2009

Pins, Bright, Black and Poor.

Yesterday I was walking through the center of Amhest. A homeless man was standing across from the Souper Bowl (a soupery with a terrible name and equally terrible logo). He asked me if I wanted to donate money to a school for poor children. At the time I was properly headphoned and holding a Reese' peanut butter cup in my hand. Normally I try to pretend that they are not there, something that is significantly easier to do when no one is around. I gave him fifty cents and he said "every bit counts". Afterward, I felt guilty. Like I had invested in the suffering of the soul of someone else.

Sometimes I wonder if the popularization of credit cards and debit cards has an effect on the homeless population. Digital transactions result in changeless pockets. If people have no change then they can't give it to the homeless. What do they do then?

The homeless people, the people that are ignored, sad, sick, and lost, always remind me of a poem that I read once. I was able to find it online (thanks to Google).


Mantis by samuel charters

Mantis! praying mantis! since your wings’ leaves
And your terrified eyes, pins, bright, black and poor
Beg — "Look, take it up" (thoughts’ torsion)! "save it!"
I who can’t bear to look, cannot touch, — You —
You can — but no one sees you steadying lost
In the cars’ drafts on the lit subway stone.

—The ungainliness
of the creature needs stating.

And your terrified eyes, pins, bright, black and poor

"The mantis opened its body
It had been lost in the subway
It steadied against the drafts
It looked up—
Begging eyes—
It flew at my chest"

… "it is harmless," he says moving on—You?
Where will he put you? There are no safe leaves
To put you back in here, here’s news! too poor
Like all the separate poor to save the lost.

One feels in fact inevitably
About the coincidence of the mantis lost in the subway,
About the growing oppression of the poor—
Which is the situation most pertinent to us—

Here, stone holds only seats on which the poor
Ride, who rising from the news may trample you—
The shops’ crowds a jam with no flies in it.


Speak easy,

No comments: