A Prayer for those Who Suffer

A prayer for those
who suffer

Lost on our streets

Lost to themselves,

A prayer for the stricken
and aggrieved

For the young in fear
of the future

For the old in dread
of the past

For victims silenced
by shame

For the angry whose
hearts are broken

For those who suffer most,

This is a prayer for you.

(c) Rob Goldstein 09/21/2016-2018

 



 This was first posted September 2016 as ‘A Prayer for Those who Grieve.’
I’ve revised the poem.

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Mother, You Need Shoes

I would not have noticed her had the subway car not cleared
of people at Lexington Avenue.

She removed a tattered stocking cap and stuffed it
into a grimy army jacket.

She held a smudged white bag between her legs.

She reached into it and pulled out half a doughnut.

That was when I noticed her shoes.

The uppers had split from the soles; she wrapped
her feet in newspaper and rags.

I thought, Mother,  you need shoes.

I wondered if forty dollars would do.

I looked up and watched her untangle a lock of
matted grey hair.

She reached into her bag and found a bobby pin.

She styled the lock of hair into a bun

I had forty dollars.

It was for vitamins; specifically, anti-oxidants.

My body was rusting faster than a wet Ford.

The crows feet around my eyes whispered: erase us; your
happiness demands our absence.

I examined the old woman’s cracked and broken shoes;
they were useless for January in New York.

She closed her eyes, as if ready to savor a long warm ride.

Maybe she lives in the subway, I thought, like those people
in the documentary,  Dark Days.

If she never leaves the subway she doesn’t need new shoes!

My crow’s-feet said, ’Yes!’

But that can’t be right, I thought; an old woman, alone, with
nothing but a stale doughnut for dinner.

I saw myself stand, and watched as I took two twenties out
of my wallet.

Then I knelt and said, “Mother, you need shoes.”

She opened her eyes and smiled at me and
nodded in agreement.

“Will forty dollars do?”

“Yes,” she said, “God bless you.”

I gave her the money and returned to my seat, and
listened as my crow’s-feet maliciously threatened
to deepen and spread.

 

Rob Goldstein (c) 2014-2018 All Rights Reserved
First published 5/29/16
Revised 4/7/18

 

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