this abundant life

I can no longer call them homeless, not because they aren’t,
I’m not relegating them to the planet, nation, community,
or under an overpass, card board box, tent in blackberry bushes, & not because
I’ve seen families living in Africa with as much—or much less..

I can no longer call them homeless
I chose to call them Rotarian
that we may work for relief of especial needs
of others out of good will
see plight, acknowledge pain, knowing
we all need four walls for this abundant life

One of them told me, “I stopped being able to live indoors about 20 years ago.
Don’t know what it is, I do alright..,” he said, as I dropped him off
to go under his favorite Oregon freeway bridge,
“except sometimes in winter I worry about losing my toes.”

I know a preacher who regularly sits among them
rarely preaching Jesus, because he often finds Him there,
but instead buys them cigarettes, gives clothes & pocket-money for cheap wine,
brings them food, or a tent when he knows they would use it
all to relieve pain, prays with them when they ask,
directs them to missions & shelters if they don’t know,
takes them to the emergency room if they need to go.

Rotarian’s in our midst, a few of them better than we,
when living a fast paced life in conceit..
some of them are insane, some of them thieves,
all have had something stolen,
many without learned skill of hygiene this
left behind with four walls of normal life,
they wheel on, on bikes, grocery carts in whining dull roar of traffic,
all of our pain and bliss is somehow connected,
moments of delirious uplifting sunshine
& anguished biting cold, moving south, a hitch-hike,
a protected end of a grain car
makes trek a possibility, peer passed on whispered knowledge
of the “best missions” with good food &
where they will not shame you

This past Christmas morning I saw two
in back of my motels’ outside wall, under eve, arms
& legs entwined for warmth,
but yet sparkling with frost,
asleep, on crisp north California December asphalt

I know another preacher who gives them clean socks
washes their feet.. if they will let him.. washes
them lovingly in warm water, & spreads
antibiotics over sores & soles
while he shares the Gospel…

I can no longer call them homeless,
these Rotarian who sometimes righteously rage at being killed
& destroyed beneath this crushing wheel.

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