Kid, look at me. Don’t be afraid and don’t be too sure.
Who am I? Where am I going? Where am I from?
I am you, many years ago: that young, that pure.
Now you see me; do you see what I have become?
I am old, sick, and frail, with a body smell of rum.
I speak only with gestures and an occasional grunt,
And make my abode in the neighborhood slum,
Unaware of hot or cold, my feelings rendered blunt.
Strong wind and rain, and biting chill, I confront.
My twisted wisps blow against the strong squall.
Despite bitter a clime, there is food I must hunt,
So call me dirt and grime; I have heard them all.
Clung to my bare chest is a sign etched in scrawl:
“I am lost and helpless and hungry. HELP ME.”
All I see is ignorance and all I hear is a catcall.
I am a beggar always, unworthy of my own plea.
Some stare at my sunken cheeks and faded tee,
I am the debris in this otherwise spotless land.
Others glare at my furrowed face and bruised knee,
With no sign of empathy; they do not understand.
To them, I should disappear at their tacit command.
Clad in coarse tatters, a dull shadow glides all alone,
Among radiant patches of life, a nondescript man.
That shadow is me, wandering far away from home.
My meager consumption of leftover bread hard as stone,
And contaminated water from the corner fountain side,
Make me thin as a stick, with my skeleton clearly shone,
Feeding on droplets of misery, having been cast aside.
I ask no more than dreams to live on, a home to reside,
Kind provisions from strangers, for they are blessed,
A loving family to belong, and some friends to confide,
A trace of hope in this dark world to soothe my distress.
Bereft of comfort, yet I will not languish in stress
But rise, rise, and honorably smite the callous night.
Stretching minute chords of my vocal tract, I confess:
Kid, break the storm and steer from the devil’s sight.
Look at me: I am the prince of the poor, a repulsive sight,
With thick outgrowths of gray shoots sprawled across my face.
Harshly whipped at all corners and bearing this endless fight.
My proudest possession is a cup with an espresso trace.
Kid, inflict me with your complains but show no disgrace.
Simply give me some attention, a little love preferably too,
And something you can’t easily share in public space:
How about a genuine promise just between me and you?
Respect your parents for they have helped you through.
They are marked by deep anguish so you suffer no strife.
An education is important so please return to school,
And grow in this heaven where you can shine and thrive.
Be thankful for you have everything you need in life:
A roof and stuffed plate, family and wealth to squander.
So may your lovely smile meet your full cheeks, revive,
And may your softened feet not follow in foolish wander.
Sometimes, when dawn flashes vibrant streaks, I ponder
Life that is lived comfortably, in eternal peace and bliss.
Looking into your tender eyes, I grow fonder and fonder.
A shiver of joy rushes through me when I reflect all this!
Life is too short; thus, it is vain to sorrowfully reminisce.
Maybe someday, I will grow respected at my own ease.
Caressing the weary horizon is a murky indigo vapor mist.
Maybe someday, I will find in my bosom the gem of peace.
When I see men with designer scarves over their silky fleece
And women clad in ornate jewelry, I am filled with contempt,
Wanting more than I deserve, in a moment of selfish caprice,
As a man scorns some helpless creature he intends to torment.
I hope that you will not experience the same regretful descent.
I may become a figment of your imagination at the break of day;
At the core of my begging activity is this simple yet dire intent:
May the immeasurable skies free you from your fleeting dismay.
Consider me the insignificant filth negligently tossed away;
I am merely a man devastated by adversities long endured.
I have neither hope nor luck but have chanced upon you today.
Kid, please look at me. Don’t be afraid and don’t be too sure.