Dear Jim

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Sometimes I wonder where you might’ve gone–
down south? Some warmer place? While winter chilled
your usual roost a block away from school,
where you'd sit on an upturned crate and beg
for cash to buy a little food, some clothes.

I got so used to seeing you that maybe
I just took for granted that you'd be
in your normal spot by the old church
with the steeple and the giant cross
that's braced against the roof and beckons to
some hidden disciples that I've never seen.

Bleached posters in Korean line the wall
behind your head and behind the fence
made of iron that coils around the chapel.
I must have passed you by a hundred times
before I finally dropped a dollar in
that battered cup of crumpled Styrofoam–
or was it your faded Red Sox cap?
A pair of cracked, dry lips asked for my name.

I saw you every day, in your blue coat
sitting on your normal perch by three,
and when I dropped some money in your hand
you'd ask me how things were and wished me well.
Once, you told me how you played baseball–
even made it to the major leagues
until some early accident cut short
your fledgling career. I was convinced
by your warm smile and sincerity,
the way you spoke just like a friend to me.

But now it's winter and you've left that patch
of cracked and dirty sidewalk. Newspapers
and empty bottles lie where you once sat
in a dark blue hoodie with a baseball cap.





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