Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Bum

He glared with disdain at the old tin can
Held up with hope by a dirty old man
Whose eyes were too shiny, his nose was too red
Telling a tale with words unsaid
And the young man turned with a disgusted frown
Staring the old man up and down
Then he said, “I have better things to do
Than hand out my money to a bum like you

There’s work out there, why don’t you get some
Instead of sitting here like a dirty old bum?
I’ve worked hard for the money I have
I’ve earned my rights by the way I live
And I’m not about to throw it away
To a guy who sits on the street all day
You’ve made your choices, I’ve made mine
And I’m not gonna pay for your whiskey or wine

He spun on his heel, about to leave
No drunk was going to ruin his Christmas Eve
His sweetheart was waiting and man, was she sweet
So why was he talking to this bum on the street?
In another few hours he’d be whisked away
‘Neath the twinkling stars, by a horse and sleigh
Snuggled ‘neath blankets a hot drink in hand
With sleigh-bells a-jingling, oh, aint love grand?

He turned and began to walk away
But paused as he heard the old man say,
“I was a young pup once like you
And I guess I know why you feel like you do
But until you’ve walked a mile in my shoes
I beg to differ about ‘your right to choose’
Sometimes you gotta take what you rather would not
And you’d do anything to trade the hand ya’ got”

The old man’s voice grew a little hoarse
As he ran his fingers through hair long and coarse
“Yes, I remember it all real well
I had dreams, held the world by the tail
I loved a sweet lady and she loved me
An’ we were as happy as anyone could be
Oh, the happiest day of my entire life
Was the day that sweet lady became my wife

And the second best day I ever had
Were the three great times I became a dad
With each new little babies birth
We added a corner to our ‘heaven on earth’
Our days were numbered, but we didn’t know
We were as happy as anyone here below
Then one day an old drunk ended my life
When he killed my three babies and my wife

So before you talk choices like winnin’ and losin’
That we become what we are by our own choosin’
I’d like to ask you. Have you lived alone
After your ‘heaven on earth’ was gone?
Have you sat in the darkness your now ever-after
Listening to the silence echo your baby’s laughter
And still hear the voices of your precious darlings
Or close your eyes to still see them smiling?

Have you heard your wife’s voice calling you
To waken alone and cry all night through?
And in a desperate effort to make your thoughts end
Have wine or whiskey become your best friend?
Have you gone to work where they close the door
And say, you don’t work here any more
You may call me a bum but before you do
Would you like to walk a mile in my shoes?

The young man was speechless, what more could he say?
To this man who suffered more loss in one day
Than most people suffer their whole life through
All words seemed empty from this point of view
This was no bum, but a lonely old soul
Who, under life’s sorrow simply lost control
His teardrops fell as he stared at his feet
Then he sat down beside the old man on the street

“Forgive me” he wept to the dirty old man
“Oh, please forgive me if you can
For I am the bum, the most ignorant of fools
What do I know about any of life’s rules?
I’d fill up your can twenty times if I could
But I really don’t think it would do any good
Even better than money, for you I believe
Would be somewhere to come home to this Christmas Eve”

So there in the cold ‘neath the streetlights glow
Sat the young man with the old in the falling snow
And the angels looked down from heaven above
Smiling at the pair in tender love
A young man who would never choose
To walk a mile in the old man’s shoes
Then slowly they both arose to their feet
And arm in arm, they walked up the street

(last verse optional)
So before we call anyone a drunk or a bum
Perhaps we should ask them from where they have come
Instead of judging, lend them an ear
And we might be appalled at the stories we hear
God give mercy to the poor on the street
Their stories are the tears that the angels weep
Shine your love on them and show them the reason
We all may have hope this Christmas Season

All rights Reserved
Janet Martin

If anyone has material possessions
and sees his brother in need
but has no pity on him,
how can the love of God
be in him? 1 John 3:17

(sorry, I know you may have seen a
few of these poems before, but I decided
to post them again for Christmas.)

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