Despair

I see their backs on benches
At dusk in empty parks
Lost among the shadows
Along deserted walks.

I see them at the busy mall
By kiosks, shops, and stands
Gazing in at windows
With nothing in their hands,

Schoolboy sitting at the fence
By the softball game
After choosing up for sides
And no one called his name.

Orphan kids with hopeful eyes
Waiting for adoptions,
Moved about in foster homes
And running out of options,

Bearded men at beaches
With knapsacks by their knee,
Quiet near the driftwood,
Staring at the sea,

The widow in her cloth coat
Mounting the icy stair
At a shabby, winter walk-up
To her cat and her despair,

The factory man at Sunday service
Weeping on his knees
Who cannot feed his family
Since his job went overseas.

It’s not hard to find them;
Search in any town,
The overlooked, forgotten,
The rejected beaten down.

Charity’s a virtue,
But what charity can mend
The hurting heart that’s lonely
And only lacks a friend.

Think too hard upon it
And one night you may awaken
To wonder at and curse the god
Who made the godforsaken.

This prayer is for the lonely;
Ignore them if you will.
Pretend it’s not a problem,
But loneliness can kill.

It’s the plague of modern living,
A strangely vicious game;
If you’re unlucky, lost, or down
You’ve just yourself to blame.

It’s a mercantile philosophy,
A free enterpriser creed
Promoting the morality
Of selfishness and greed,

Excessive wealth and poverty and
Guns and drugs and jails
With a gridlock governance
Completely off the rails.

Less mobile, extended families
Were once a better plan.
There can’t have been these wounded souls
In hamlet, tribe, and clan.

Where ego is the unit,
Each soul is on its own
In a spiritual wasteland where
Loneliness is sown.

And NO! I’m not a bleeding heart.
My ends are selfish too.
If we can’t save each other,
There’s no hope for me or you.

I pray my sons and grandsons
Some day, some way... will see
How to organize a world
A better way than we.

Despair means all is sad and done;
There isn’t any cure.
The only consolation?
Life is short and death is sure.