What the Beggar Knows

Each day the beggar man sets out his mat
at the top of the cathedral stairs,
visible to any who may care to look
but out of the way of foot traffic.
He never calls out to the passers by
as they rush past on their important errands,
no overt attempts to lighten their pockets.
Most, of course, avert their gaze,
repulsed by the thought of his dirt-slicked hair,
offended when he dares to scratch an itch,
afraid of what they might see if they look in his milky eyes.
Each day the beggar man sets out his mat,
places his cup and listens to life drift past.
He can judge the purpose of the parishioners
by the haste and weight of their stride and the
echo of their footsteps against the glassy marble,
to know emotions by the timbre of their breath.
He has known the joy of wedding parties,
felt the burden pall bearers shoulder,
shared in the pride of baptismal celebrations,
today though…there is something new.
Today he heard a tragic sigh intertwined with the wind,
pulling tears from otherwise useless eyes,
though he did not yet know why.
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13 Comments

Filed under Poetry, Poetry - Prompts

13 responses to “What the Beggar Knows

  1. There but for the grace of God, go I.
    We could all be him, and some us could, in an instant. I feel sad for your beggar man, wondering what put him in that situation. Your imagery is really vivid. I could actually ‘see’ him.

  2. Mark, it is so true. We do not know how the less fortunate feel. I hope we never will. One of the many reasons I love Mexico is that you do not see homeless people on the street. A friend of mine told me in the capital there are some, but it is rare. I have never seen one person living on the street here in 11 years, either in Oaxaca or Puebla. I am from NYC, so you can imagine it is quite a contrast for me.

    Pamela

  3. And I wiped away a tear . I’m a sucker for giving to beggars, buecause I always think “there but for the grace of God…”

  4. I have seen those beggars Mark ~ Thank for reminding us how blessed we are ~

  5. jasmine calyx

    I love this:
    “He can judge the purpose of the parishioners
    by the haste and weight of their stride”

  6. Such a touching and vivid write Mark–Thank you!

  7. i like that it is the beggar that notices the sigh int he end…i think we take them for granted far too often…someone else will help…or that they did something to get them there…and if only…we judge and …well they are not that far from us…

  8. I love the repetition of “He” beginning lines. It’s spaced out judiciously and effectively. It is admirably restrained and well constructed–it’s some very fine writing.

  9. Don’t we all listen to life drift past until something happens and we realize that despite our knowledge we have no answers?
    Very poignant, Mark.

  10. He can judge the purpose of the parishioners
    by the haste and weight of their stride and the
    echo of their footsteps against the glassy marble…i bet he has become a fine sense and eye for what’s going on around him..and may see more than one would think..poignantly penned mark

  11. This is sadly beautiful, Mark. You capture so much in this write.

  12. Excellent poem – I have met people like this. Your words have so much truth in them, and I find a lot of emotion in this poem, something I can relate to a lot!
    Suzy 😀

Some of what I write is true, some is fiction; most is merely possibility.

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