Homeless Man Slam

Homeless Man Slam

A Poem by UnendingOceans

A slam poem


One day I was sad because I had no shoes 

until I saw a man with a reason to cry. 

His sobs shook the wall he sat against 

and made the ground tremble with him. 

I didn’t know what to say to him,

but I didn’t want to go, 

so I sat and watched a haggard shell cry. 


He wore the decades in layers caked in place

by everything and everyone he passed by. 

His hair told a tangled web of nights spent alone, 

in rotten, musty clothes 

with rattling bones 

beneath eternal clouds and rain 

or else baking in the afternoon 

while walking between makeshift homes, 

places to lay his head 

and wish himself dead. 

His hands held his face while they held him soft, 

and as he shook, they stayed resolute, strong, and there … 

they looked like his only friends for years. 

Every callous had turned to dirt, 

every single kind of hurt 

looked like it could be cut by his nails, 

ingrown, split, filthy, and worn, 

they looked so sharp �" claws for fighting his way out 

and digging himself in. 

I sat and looked and wondered 

and tried to see the man before me. 

To hear the sounds he made, 

oh the sounds, 

they rolled over heavy-hanging air

after they escaped his mouth 

having slid out his chest and throat 

from their birthplace in his cavernous, empty, stomach.

I knew those sounds. 

My mom, 

she made them one spring 

when I was a kid 

and all of a sudden 

dad wasn't around anymore. 

My dad, 

who followed us across states and climates 

when at last he understood his role in regards to us, 

and phones us to let us know, 

over the phone the sounds hung low, 

and I was angry, 

so I learned to make those sounds, 

ones that weren’t to take for granted, 

like pennies tossed in rivers 

or wishes on a star.

When I was younger, from very far 

I hear those sounds once more from 

my step-dad, 

who groaned from just as deep, 

maybe even down from his feet 

or deeper �" to his soul, 

where he knew his every mistake, 

and so saw fit to eliminate 

at least one part of the equation himself… 

At last, 

the man he sees me, 

and his eyes flare 

wild, incarnate instinct to scream and run in them. 

I jerk back �" those eyes; 

he stood and shook 

and fumbled with his hands 

before quietly shuffling away. 

every aftershock-thought of him in my mind

an earthquake

and a kettledrum of my beating heart �" 

and so I watch him walk 

I watch his feet catch the sidewalk 

through slits in shoes too small for him, 

and I look at my own feet. 

Beneath the city clamor, his steps echo from pavement and concrete 

and I can trace his steps to where he stands beyond my sight

but as I run to him, I step on a tack, 

barking with the sound, 

hearing nothing but the acute flow 

from  my feet to my mouth �" 

eternal force of soul. 

© 2012 UnendingOceans

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My goodness, I do not know what to write because I am still lost in the power of this poem. There is so much here, and it has reached out and touched me.

Posted 11 Years Ago


11 Years Ago

I'm glad this resonated with you.
Wow. There I love the the empathy and the emotions in this poem.

Posted 11 Years Ago

I bet he had a Teddy Bear once too... steam vents have a way of being occupied when you need one. When you cut and paste a doc to this site, sometimes the file gets modified. Punctuation get changed - even added. You don't normally see it until AFTER you press publish and thereafter LOOK at your posted work. I mention this because it happens to me all the time AND you have quotation marks where YOU didn't put them.

Take care,

Posted 11 Years Ago


11 Years Ago

Yikes, I should be more careful. Thanks for making me aware.

11 Years Ago

It happens, no fault but helps to be aware.

11 Years Ago

Great write, kept it simple. It hit me harder that way. You don't back off much, do you? Keep it up, it reads good. Kudos.

Posted 11 Years Ago


11 Years Ago

Thank you. And no, I try not too. To me it's better to be striking and effective , something people .. read more

11 Years Ago

If it was good enough for Frost, Giovanni, good enough for me. Real talent can underwrite IMO.

11 Years Ago

I prefer to think of it as writing with clarity. Essentially the same thing.

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4 Reviews
Added on August 14, 2012
Last Updated on August 14, 2012



Sometimes writing is painting for me. Either way, I like sharing it. more..

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