Silk City PIT 2: The Exhortation (WIP)

Silk City PIT 2: The Exhortation (WIP)

A Poem by riskrapper

counting the homeless one lost soul at a time


For James Weldon Johnson

the clock fast approaching
an appointed midnight click
it was time to punch in 
for my avocational shift

we sauntered up creaky steps
of the old weathered rectory
its planks lose, its bricks chipped,
the gabled roof still leaking

a CDC on the outer verge
leaning over a bankrupt precipice 
catastrophic failure predicted
from chronic cash flow distresses

we’ve  been on the ropes
since doors swung open
to fulfill a sacred mission, 
25 year’s in the hood
keepin the devil in remission

a young ED with firebrand cred
emerged from a cubicle partition
his erudition and abundant zeal
would save many from perdition

he commenced his brief
in the entrance hall
laid out maps of the Silk City
articulating a canvasse plan 
bereft of fear and blithe pity

he stood erect announcing
the surety of his calling
handsome face and balding spire
lent a stern presence of authority

The PIT is a Point In Time
Homeless Census annual review, 
to root out and count the heads of
the lost and out of view

from Bed Stuy to Boston
Baltimore and DC
San Antone, Windy City
Frisco vols all countin to see

what happening with 
America’s homeless folks
who, what and how they got there;
what can we do to help them
besides a hot, a cot and a prayer

last week in January  
in cities all over the nation
missioners fan out  to uncover
the most lowly of station

we’ll discover and recover
lost lambs and prodigal sons
we’ll find street walk daughters
falling through cracks
and criminals on the run

some junkies and crack
pied pipers be yodelling
sickness, death and fear
mental illness and 
castaway children may
bring some sorrowful tears

like gnats strained 
through the gaping 
holes in our failing
social safety nets
this night is about
good shepherds
going forth with no regrets

this mission
is most important
to our agency as well

each head you count
every calf you cull
the coffers of the
agency will grow

our program grants are tied 
to an index of misery
our streets give ample evidence 
of its abundant presence in this city

no poverty pimps
work harder to improve 
the blighted human condition 
the quality of our work
speaks for itself
its no liberal sedition

we got a dog in the fight 
that's undoubtedly true
tending to add an urgency
to the critical work we do

our shelter, food pantry
and job training programs
keep jumpers off the ledge
we attempt to arrest fallers
its the agency’s solemn pledge

for what profit a man
if he inherits the earth
and finds only strife 
and devastation?;
community development 
our diligent charge 
workin hard to build 
a better nation

so as your
cross the city’s
food deserts 

to search the oases
of surreal revelations
in supermercados
sure to manifest
a few midnight bizarros

E 18th St bonito bodegas
where long shot scratch offs
and stale coconut macaroons 
staples of community sustainability
and a lift from poverty soon 

parsing the three squares
bagged in brown balsa
a teriyaki slim jim,
cool ranch dorito
frothy quart of Colt 
to chase a winkin sip 
of dog hair gin

that's where this 
census begins...

yes beloved 
the road is wide
the gate is narrow
for the many prodigals
off the path living
a life of shadows

they're out there
making a way
through the  gloom
hoping to be given
one more day

sojourning on
trying to get back
to the bosom of love
searching for the room
lit with light from above 

take courage beloved
know that Jesus walks
the streets with you tonight

he’ll be your
present helper
as you mine 
the dank waste
of the desolate 
factory shells
the post industrial
monuments to the 
expended labor of 
six dead generations
now squatter 
for urban nomads
moving through
the sarcophagi of 
a nations
wasted labor

afterall, we are
all fallen people
hurtling downward
into torn safety nets 
slipping into the 
tattered threads of 
a handy hangman's 

who among us
has not fallen
through yesterdays 
best expired dream? 
waking to find yourself
in a midnight
nightmare scream

we'll catch them
round em up
as their falling
to build em up
lost sheep knows the
voice of the masters calling

Jesus will
walk before you
as you enter the
closed parks
were swings 
of life fly
high and low
merry go rounds
zip by like a terrible
carousel that won’t stop
to let you go

and may the
Good Deliverer
guard you as
you descend
into the screaming
rooms of 
crack dens

here the fallen
angel finds comfort
in the resounding
chorus of misery 
woefully regretted

Lucifer eloquently
hums beguiling
holy smoke words
to his doleful
acolytes sadly

you are the
Good Shepherds
leading the lost
back through
the gate

tell the beloved prodigal 
children that the good
news of salvation
patiently awaits

we lucked out
its warm tonight
for the past few years
its snowed

heres a clipboard
of questions to ask
a box of supplies for lost sheep
and a yellow plastic poncho
so the cops know 
you're one of God's own

Mary Lou Williams

Black Christ of the Andes




© 2013 riskrapper

My Review

Would you like to review this Poem?
Login | Register

Share This
Request Read Request
Add to Library My Library
Subscribe Subscribe


Added on October 27, 2013
Last Updated on October 27, 2013
Tags: Paterson NJ, Homeless Census, PIT