Letting me read poetry is always a hazard. While looking for the Bertolt Brecht poem I posted in a thread, I came across a line in one of his poems about a stunted tree. It made me think. This is the result.
Can You Spare Some Change?
Hurrying through the city one day on errands
I came across a beggar seated on the sidewalk
with his back against the wall. His worn face
and thin frame pointed to a life ill-spent.
A well-dressed man stood over him.
In an angry, raised voice, he said,
“Get a job, you worthless bum.”
I looked from the speaker to the broken man
at his feet. Then, against all common sense,
I spoke up. “Excuse me, sir,” I said.
“Have you ever helped a poor mother
find good food for her hungry children?
Have you helped fund schools in poor neighborhoods?”
He turned his angry gaze and words on me.
“What does that have to do with me?
What are you, some kind of liberal do-gooder?”
“Well, sir,” I said in a pleasant voice,
“If you planted seeds in barren soil and the crops
came up stunted would you curse the crops
or blame yourself for not enriching the soil?”
After a long, angry stare, he turned his back
and walked away. Over his shoulder,
I heard him mutter, “Damn nosy do-gooder.”
I watched him for a moment then dropped
some change in the beggar’s upturned hat.
As I hurried on to finish my errands,
a plantive chant followed me down the sidewalk.
“Buddy, can you spare some change?”