Walking Cross-Town. Saving the best for last.


It’s not any day.
But every day, that I’m walking cross-town to the office.
I call him up.
Or better stated, he gets called up.
Why this thought among billions of others, I don’t know.
But it flutters in on its wings, lands and settles.
A 20-second moment in life that never returns.
But returns each time I walk on this patch of earth.

It was February.
A warm day, but a winter day.
He’s lying on the concrete sidewalk on 48th street.
Not against the store front.
Or over a grate spilling steam from the guts of the underground tunnels.
He’s more centered between the street and the hulking skyscraper.
Early morning commuters avert their gaze, and step far left or right.

He’s covered from head to toe in a soiled sleeping bag.
He’s sleeping on a thin sheet of cardboard.

And like the miracle of the moment that is called up, the locomotive pulls in Mark Cohn to provide the soundtrack:

(He) Started talking about heaven
Like it was real
Said “They got mansions in heaven
Yeah the angels are building one for me right now
And I know…
They’re saving the best for last for me.”

I see no part of part of Him,
but his Hair.
Jet black.

Between the cornrows, tight and neatly arranged,
I can see his skull.
His skin is blood-red from the cold.

And I wonder,
if he’s dreaming,
dreaming about his mansion in heaven
where the King picks up the tab.



  1. Ah, this makes me ache…waiting for the King – in heaven or on Beale. Why could someone lie in the middle of the streets of NY and no one offer him comfort? Perhaps that was all the shelter he sought. Beautifully, painfully written I understand why he cannot be forgotten.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Immediately started humming the Marc Cohen song when I read this. And I agree with Mimi, the image you conjure is both sad and sobering…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Christie says:

    Such a fine, caring, deeply moving piece of writing…”Early morning commuters avert their gaze, and step far left or right”. It strikes that everyone side-steps him either far left or right, unfortunate that not one person can be at the midpoint junction toward, compassion & understanding. He breaths the same air under the same dawn sky, he thinks, perhaps even has an appetite for reading, he is the child of God and is child of a man & woman union, perhaps he is a sibling. He has a focus, it is basic survival. I hope he has a clear mind and a body free of pain & of addiction. Little money, no home..what a challenge. All of us deserve dignity, nourishment to feed the body, intellectual connection.& a safe place to lay our head..and I pray he knows of hope..
    “I can see his skull. His skin is blood-red from the cold.” He would benefit from a gift of an inexpensive watch-cap to help retain his body heat…”And I wonder, if he’s dreaming,
    dreaming about his mansion in heaven where the King picks up the tab” < < that sentence is one of common connection, the wondering and the dreaming and speaks of the free gift of salvation awaiting…
    35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’,,,40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25: 35, 36 & 40

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m right in your neighborhood – there a meal program at St. Barholomews. This becomes the touchstone for so many homeless. On the street corners, stairways to the subway, doorways of construction sites. More than i remember in NYC. Some of them young, old – someone’s child. But too many. No quick answer. No quick solution. Takes more energy than we’re willing to offer since we’re expending so much taking care of ourselves. Somewhere between guilt and sacrifice is salvation I suppose. Hard to come by these days… – J.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I understand why he gets called up. Sadness, consciousness, song. Beautifully written, David.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I hope he is dreamng about heaven and a better life. They pass him by because they have no room for more pain or heartache. Love your writing. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you for continuing to hold The Sleeper. You might be the only one.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Yet again you evoke such feeling and emotion. It feels personal. I think many of us do what we can and feel guilty when we don’t.

    Liked by 1 person

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