Self-Imposed Barriers

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My View
Slumped over the bench,
white towel on his head.
dirty clothes,
a stuffed backpack.
Is he homeless,
living on the streets,
on drugs?
I wonder if
he’s going to ask for money,
Should I buy him  a hotdog
while I’m buying lunch
for my friend and our kids?
Or will he refuse,
only wanting money
to feed a habit.

The View of the 5-Year-Old Child 
Hey, there’s a man
with pigeons surrounding him,
he looks silly with that towel on his head.
Is he feeding the birds?
I’ll go see.
The birds are gone.
Mom says we scared them away.

I’ll go play.
Hey, that man has a bag with food,
he’s feeding the pigeons.
I’ll go sit with him.
Hi, my name is M–.
Thanks for the food.
We sit.
Feeding the pigeons together,
with the food in his plastic bag.
That’s my mom.
Oh, thanks for sharing your food.
See ya.

My View Now
Why does it take a five-year-old child
to reach out to someone
with no walls, no barriers,
to be an instant friend?
Strangers for only a moment.
Maybe the will and love
and friendship of children,
could make the homeless long
for a home,
a family
and people to love.

Why does it take a five-year-old child
for me to step outside myself,
recognize my judging eyes
and see beyond my
self-imposed
 barriers of
   Prejudice,
     Fear,
        Bias,
            Insecurity
freeing me
to love.

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28 thoughts on “Self-Imposed Barriers

  1. This reminds me of a picture book I read last year about a boy who lost his teddy bear and a homeless person who found it – can't think of the title. You are a busy poet. I love your poem about why you write.

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  2. Just love what you've done her with perspective. I reread a second time flipping back and forth with each line from your view to the child's view — and think it makes a really strong 2-voice poem. I don't know if you've read many of those, but this definitely made me think of them! Very well crafted — I enjoyed the read tremendously.

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  3. I loved the two perspectives and the questions you ask yourself at the end. Why can't we be more accepting of someone who is different from us?

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  4. I appreciated the way you sandwiched your son's perspective between your original and changed perspectives of the man he befriended. You ask important questions at the end of your piece. Something for us to all think about deeply.

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  5. Wow– like Stacey, I really liked that you put your son's point of view between your before and after. It really told a story! And the questions at the end—will make me think a lot today…

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  6. Strong images with a few words.Nice sandwich of perspectives, and interesting graphic at the end of the poem. The movement suggesting a breaking away from the negative words above.

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  7. I love this Slice of observance and understanding. Often the child leads us to wisdom, breaking through all the trappings of this adulthood. Thanks for sharing and thanks for inspiring me to try poetry for my slices.

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  8. Really? I am a poet? I am a poet. I am a poet! I feel so affirmed. I really thought I was tossing around words with the endings of lines looking like poems. I feel like a poser—a poemser (LOL). Thanks for helping me find my inner poet!I will check out that book, soon. Maybe I can dive into fiction one of these days…

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  9. The neat thing is the little girl in my poem was not my little girl, but a girl I had just met, a daughter of a friend. That made watching her interaction all the more powerful.

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  10. Writing from perspectives is a great exercise, and here it yields terrific results.If we listened more to children, the world would be better. Instead we use "children" and "kid" like almost derogatory terms in a lot of contexts. We have much to learn…Great piece!

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