Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Real, Raw, Human Emotion - The Sweetest Thing on Earth

    To me, there is nothing more beautiful that real, raw human emotion.  When we strip off all the layers of self righteousness and image-concious crap we adorn ourselves with - all the garbage that hides who we really are - we find we're really all the same.  We all cry; worry; fear; hurt; bleed...  That's humanity in it simplest form.  I'm ashamed to admit that I once forgot what it meant to share that human connection.

    But a few years ago, I fell on hard times for a while.  Things got bad enough I thought I might need some government assistance to survive.  As it turned out, I didn't even qualify for assistance.  What I did qualify for was a change of heart.  And unknowingly, some other people who had also fallen on hard times, gave me one.

    I deal with things by writing about them.  Seldom does it come out as poetry.  This time it did.  Here's a rare glimpse of me raw; real; human.

The Least of These
(A Lesson from the Welfare Line)
By: Chris Tatum

I stood in line with my lay-off letter
In my Calvin Kleins and a J-Crew sweater
And made up my mind that I was better than the best of these.

Then I saw a man:
He hadn’t combed his hair in a day or two
And his breath clung to him like a case of brew.
Masking tape and a paper sack, it
Covered the holes in his leather jacket.
As he walked away in his tattered clothes
I held my breath and pinched my nose
Thinking he’s exactly what I thought I’d find
Waiting here in the welfare line.

Then I saw a mom:
In a pink sweat suit, a Hispanic lady
Hummed a lullaby to her brown-skinned baby.
I stared at her  - hoped she wouldn’t notice.
Her  smile said ‘hi’ but her eyes said hopeless.
It  wasn’t  long til my imagination
Started sizing up her situation.
The father must have been a one night stand.
Her poor baby doesn’t stand a chance.

All around that room where no curtains hung,
People talked of better times to come;
About the President’s economic plan
I was sure none of them could understand.
No wonder, I figured, these folks are in need.
Most prob’ly never got their GED
These loser men and their loser wives
No, I can’t relate to their loser lives.

Then in a lonely corner I saw a lonely man
A phone to his ear, a letter in hand
Trying hard to look like he didn’t belong,
Like his life was perfect, like nothing was wrong.
As I looked a little closer I could clearly see
That lonely man was a lonely me
In a room full of angels sent from above;
God’s messengers of mercy to show me His love.

And as I stood in line with my lay-off letter
In my Calvin Kleins and a J-Crew Sweater
I realized that I’m NO better than the least of these…
For I am the least of these.

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