Who is my neighbor?

by jimowensjr

When I’m alone,

struggling to shake off the cold and fog of sleep,

driving over the cracked and barren asphalt,

and an old black man peddles his vintage Schwinn across my path,

and I encounter thick-waisted women covered in mismatched fleece,

adorned in fluorescent orange and green and blinking white lights,

wisps of breath pulsing with their every step,

and I pass the ordinary two story buildings,

where the gray-brown grass and brick merge,

and the smell of despair hangs in the air,

when I’m tempted to rebel against the staring red light,

and I look left and right, and think it’s okay,

no one will know,

when I’m desperate for a four-dollar cup of expresso and Sumatra,

and I wonder about the shivering hungry men sleeping on cardboard and plastic who long for the warmth of dawn,

when thoughts of helping had passed too quickly before,

and I remember those times when I looked away from hollow eyes and

now I wonder,

who is my neighbor?

when compassion supplants guilt,

and resolve takes hold,

I am free.