uncluttered soul

finding peace in the midst of chaos

La Ciudad

“One would give generous alms if one had the eyes to see the beauty of a cupped receiving hand.” … Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


La Ciudad is a poem that began many, many years ago. 1977 to be exact.

The skies were dark. A brisk wind hinted of the freezing rain and thundering gusts that were gathering in the distance. I quickened my pace along the Boulevard Puerto Aereo.

As it turned out, Mexico City was not kind to me, though the tacos were indeed delicious concoctions of sassy jalapeños, mystery meat and age old recipes.

There is always a place in my heart for a smiling Señora on a street corner selling tacos. I figured a savory stall in the subway would be no different.

I’ve been wrong before.

I just wanted to board my flight, and arrive in Ecuador without requiring a change of shorts.

In my rush to outwit life I carefully jumped across a gutter swollen with filth, and eyed the terminal entrance. I was close.

Sitting in the gutter was an old woman with a baby in her arms. She said nothing, she didn’t smile, she wasn’t selling delicious tacos, she held a cupped hand high.

There were many people along the boulevard that day. Who can know how many saw this woman and her child. Most were no doubt just like me, in a hurry to leave somewhere behind in the hope that somewhere new might be better.

Unlike the old woman. She was in no hurry, and had nowhere to go.

I made it to Ecuador intact, but spent the first several days leaping out of bed and charging toward the bathroom door.

As I recovered from my adventurous eating habits, I did little, and had much time to think about life. The woman that I had passed by commanded a large part of my time. I sought out pen and paper.

Thirty five years later she remains a vivid part of my life, though I gave her nothing, not even a smile.


I am grateful for the few moments of my life that were spent passing this woman. Though we may fail to recognize them at first, we are often given gifts in mysterious ways.

I am grateful to the poor woman and child. They are part of who I am today, and though I have thought of them often, they do not haunt my todays and tomorrows.

I prefer to recognize that they have given my life a loving nudge toward selfless wisdom.

The poem is a continual work in progress, as am I. It has seen many revisions, as have I, the latest being a Sestina, yet remains nothing more than my attempt at crafting a grateful passage through time. Where does the time go?

My heart is more giving because of this woman. I am a more thoughtful and gracious man because of this woman. I have stopped to help someone in need many times in my life, because of this woman.

I wish I could go back and tell her thank you.


La Ciudad


My dress darkens with the filth of the gutter.
Shivering, I sit, and I wait for my Brother.
I wait, as many pass by.
Footsteps fade and my heart fills with sorrow.
Retreating glances offer only sadness for tomorrow.
Why must I suffer so? I close my eyes and cry.

For a moment I search in the ominous sky,
as I cry tears that disappear in the wind, aimless.
They are not seeds. I care little for tomorrow.
Can you see God’s gift in my arms?
She’s hungry, cold, and feeling my pain.
Thankfully, she doesn’t share my sorrow.
Please, look at my child before you pass by.

She’s my faith in God’s love as time passes by.
That my child should live is my desperate cry.
Can you, could you share a part of my sorrow?
I’ll hold one hand high as you cross the gutter.
If not for my child, I would die, my dear Brother.
If not for my child, I don’t care about tomorrow.

Where will you be if I wake tomorrow?
Where do you go as your plane passes by?
Am I one of many, that you’ll forget, my Brother?
In your travels, are there any reasons to cry?
Where you live is there someone who sits in the gutter?
Is there room in your heart for a part of my sorrow?

Will my child’s future be struggles and sorrow?
I shudder. Chill winds bring a glimpse of tomorrow.
I find no hope for my child in the gutter.
I’ll pray that the storm will quickly pass by.
Will anyone hear my child’s cry?
I beg for your love, my Brother.

So little to give, for my child to live.
The weakest warrior could conquer my sorrow,
though my heart breaks with every cry.
I comfort my child, I won’t dream of tomorrow
while I sit… and many pass by.
I hold my hand high from the depths of the gutter.

Your eyes heard what mine cry, yet I’m the one you passed by.

My dear Brother, I pray that I’ll not haunt your tomorrows.


April 3, 2012 Posted by | poetry, thoughts | Leave a comment


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