James G. Piatt: What Are We Doing About It?
Image: Unsplash, downloaded (https://unsplash.com/photos/jfB9diS_DF8) 09.04.2022.
The Ugly Streets
I roamed the ugly asphalt streets of the unforgiving city
Near where the homeless existed in their cursedness. I
Calculated the number of tears fallen by the side,
Scarlet marks of man’s inhumanity to man,
In every sob of each rusting soul, I heard the sound
Of helplessness, and fear,
In every homeless child’s wail, I heard the sound
Of emptiness and hopelessness, and I wept.
A Sad Life
The homeless lady wrote of the city’s sadness on
torn cobwebs while she sewed her unraveling
sweater with tattered yellow sorrow: Her thoughts
left shadowy tracks on the sidewalk, as her
timeworn bare feet trod over uneven sidewalks like
a sled over broken rocks. The telltale years of her
disillusioned existence written inside the
lines of the sidewalk, echoed into the unforgiving air.
This was not the life she imagined in her youth, she
had hopes of it being better than her troubled
childhood: A rusted cart filled with glass bottles,
metal cans and broken childhood memories, was by
her side as she sat on a broken bench where rusting
nails attached her to the cruel world.
The red rose in her dark veined and weathered hand
emitted a faint rusty odor into the air as the thorns
dug into her flesh. The blood the color of the rose,
dripped from her finger, but the pain remained
hidden within her sorrows.
She was lonely in a crowd of people busily buying
unnecessary things; her cart contained empty
shopping bags, begging to be filled, but that dream
had long passed. People who passed her by, did not
stop to see her, she was just a vague impediment to
their complacency; and existed in an enigmatic
invisibility, a sad metaphor of non-existence like the
nostalgic notes in Chopin’s nocturnes, which floated
across a room and disappeared into the pallid
emptiness of time and space.
She was the remnant of a lost child in the
immeasurable emptiness of the unholy, a shadowy
indistinct figure in a black mirror that refused to
reflect her image: Always vulnerable to life’s
whims, which caused loneliness and wretchedness.
She with hollow eyes and fading mind disturbed the
contentment of others as she conversed in a loud
weeping voice, with her God about the unfairness of
She desperately searched for reality, but failed to
find it; it had rotted away into unreality a long time
ago. When the heat of the day disappeared, she sat
among shadows in the alley next to a graveyard
where she lived in cardboard penury, listening to the
eerie warbling of night birds and the moaning of
ghosts searching for her.
She felt the discontent pounding of the detached
city’s pulse and remembered the hollow in the old
oak tree where she hid as a child to escape the
sneers of children who had new dresses and blue
laced ribbons in their hair as they skipped to school,
ignoring the thin girl in a patched skirt and ragged
The memories of such sad things never vanished,
but continued into adulthood, inside a shadowy
gasp. She had never had a new dress, ribbons in her
hair, or even a skirt that was not used. She existed
all her life in need, a sad fragmentary note in a
chord missing from an unfinished song all
amounting to nothing.
What were we doing about it?
About the Author: James earned his doctorate from BYU, and his BS and MA from California State Polytechnic University, SLO. He is a Best of Web nominee and three time Pushcart nominee and has had four poetry books, “The Silent Pond,” (2012), “Ancient Rhythms,” (2014), “LIGHT,” (2016), and “Solace Between the Lines,” (2019), over 1560 poems, five novels and 35 short stories published worldwide in over 250 publications. His poems have been published in magazines such as American Aesthetic, Miller’s Pond, Steam Ticket, Dagda, Phati’tude, Pinwood Review, The Linnet’s Wings, Transnational Lit, Page and Spine, Peeking Cat, El Portal, Voices de La Luna, The Minetta Review, Seventh Quarry, London Grip, Badlands Magazine, Ottawa Arts Review, Front Porch Review, Literary House Review, Nebo, TreeHouse Arts, Westward Journal, Penumbra, as well as many others.