Thursday, July 28, 2016

Poem: Tommy UnderTheBridge

There’s a kid I don’t know,
lives under a bridge in town.
I call him Tommy. Tommy
UnderTheBridge. I don’t know
his real name: that’s not his pain,
that I don’t know his name.

He’s the real hero of the hour.
I have access to a hot meat, shower.

While he’s fighting the elements,
I’m piling on another blanket.
Bad for me is worse for him.
Always will be, always has been.
He’s not my imaginary friend.
I said at the onset, we’ve never met.

He’s an unknown lad that proves
there's worse to be had than most

folks bad. I sometimes pass through
just see if he’s around. I never see
him there, just proof, like Kilroy,
he was there. And, like the breeze,
as cars drive past they push
trash to the suburban curb of his

temporary dive. Up the street
stands an Adopt-a-Highway sign.

He always eyes that sign
with malicious intent,
but never moves to harm it.
He recycles the cans he picks
out of the gutter and in 30
some-odd years he’s never

once seen the adopters.
That kid I didn’t know grew

into a man I still don’t know.
I made it through hell ‘cause I knew
he had it worse and he was holding on.
Now, I want to ask him: Tommy,
did it ever get any better?
But, as all our Tommies know—

without a doubt—it hasn’t yet.

***

(NOTE: This Tommy UnderTheBridge was originally published in June of 2014 on Yahoo Voices as part of the Yahoo Contributor Network).