Chicago Sidewalks

hit the pavement blues – walking a mile in your shoe – left behind steps #haiku
we hurry down the Chicago city streets
passing each magic mile window shop
near a corner
coming toward us
an impoverished woman
with her crying child
we hurry our steps
we keep moving
trying to keep from seeing them
we just repeatedly say, 
no thank you
no thank you
no thank you
as if she just offers something for sale
won’t you please help us ladies?
we need some food
      god bless you lady . . .
walking faster we cross the street
she is one of the “invisible” people
and her daughter is one too
haunted faces
tired eyes pleading
hands held out
won’t you help lady?
please, lady
     my daughter is hungry . . .
no don’t ask
just keep walking
please don’t ask
just keep walking don’t stop
don’t make any eye contact
       images kept swirly by . . .
but we are only sidewalk shoppers
we know you not
we can’t be bothered
we are only consumers 
not givers 
not savers
we buy things
not connecting not really
even wanting to
        afraid of what could be . . .

11 thoughts on “Chicago Sidewalks”

  1. Oh, this is so powerful & sadly so true…I've written something similar myself…it's like the world has forgotten its compassion…and distrusts its fellow man. Good write, Joanie


  2. There is so much pain like this. When I worked in NYC, I would see many who you never knew whether they were truly needy or not. I always felt bad about not giving anything, which is weird because earlier I had always given, no matter what. NYC can harden you, like your poem says. CSLewis used to say that we should give, no matter what, not judging even if it's a wino. Who knows, the person might take the money and turn their lives around. Everything is possible. Thank you for bringing up this subject in your poem, which records it so honestly and transparently.


  3. This is great..so many people are scared of the homeless…when I was younger I started going down by the shelter and feeding the homeless…it's always rewarding to help someone.


  4. This is such an important write…Joanie…We are too busy getting and spending to care enough and raise a voice loud enough against the shame and pain of hunger and poverty. Chicago is also New York, Calcutta, London and everywhere. Enough of my diatribe. You said it better! Thank you!


  5. Good to see you posting again.
    Overall I like the poem. It does have some difficulties. For example, you begin in the past tense (we hurried down Chicago) and then change to the present tense (we hurry our steps). Nothing to worry about. I do this all the time, unintentionally mix tenses. Better, in my opinion, to make it all present tense. All. (as if she is offering something for sale). (she IS . . . and her daughter IS one too) You get the point.

    Also, if you say she's homeless, you don't need to say she's impoverished, in my opinion. It also occurs to me that if you want to avoid cliche, you might try to come up with something other than homeless. Not sure what, just an idea.

    Anyway, good work, and keep on writing. 🙂


  6. yep..think most people are afraid…not really of them but of the own helplessness and insecurity what to do and how to act towards them…very well penned


  7. dang…the cascade of your words sets the frantic pae in this of avoiding that homeless person as well…hard….i love talking with the homeless, they all got stories..and bought a meal or two as well…it is scry though…some times…


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