On the Road to Perdition (And You Won’t See Him) By Vijaya Sundaram

On the Road to Perdition (And You Won’t See Him)

He stands at the corner
And they drive right on,
Or stop, pull up windows,
Lock their doors, cautious
You see, because … well …
Because …they’re … cautious,
And it’s good sense, right?

Not knowing what
Lurks in the empty space
Before them, in the
Shape of one they don’t see,
Because they are blind,
All blind, driving into the
Blinding dark of denial,
They drive, tanks full,
Mouths full, chewing on talk.

And the man they cannot see
Stands, reflected in the sky
Which approaches them,
So fast, so close — who brought down
That blue emptiness before them?
Or is it a cloud?  Yes, a reflected cloud.
See?  There’s no one there!

Staring straight ahead,
Eyes fixed on empty air,
Perhaps viewing empty dreams,
Speaking into cell phones
Texting their loved ones,
Sipping designer lattes,
They drive on, these rich ones
Empty-eyed, empty-souled
Empty-hearted, full-bellied.

Unaware, uninvolved,
They drive, while he blends
Right into the blue sky,
Into stiff brown trees.
Trees, aging ballerinas,
With arthritic hands,
freezing cold, stand cold, cruel,
And he blends, a broken man.
Like a thin growth of forest
He stands, eyes wide.
And he blends.
And they drive.

The scudding clouds,
The bitter steel and concrete
Of a bridge to unease, these
Smile for him, as he stands,
Unsmiling and alone in islands
Of light, and circles of sun.
And the sign he holds says:
Could you spare some change?
Homeless veteran,  need food.

What he does not say:
Can you see me?
Can you hear me?
I am homeless. I am lost.

I am homeless. Tossed upon
This life, did not ask to arrive. 
Yet, here I stand, stranded.
Will you give a moment
Of your time?  A hug, perhaps,
Better still, a dime?
At least a smile, for I am here.
Can you see me, car-people?
Can you hear me?

What he doesn’t say
You will never know.
For you cannot see
You cannot hear
You cannot be
Where he is, or who he is.
For you have blended
Into that darkening sea
Of unpersonhood,
And you have dissolved,
All humanity gone, lost
In dull resentment, lost
in indifference to yourself

He stands, silhouetted
Just for a moment.
While your car becomes sky
Then, shoulders slouched,
He walks on, his sign
The mark of his own
Personal Calvary
(And you won’t see him).

By Vijaya Sundaram


A native of India, Vijaya Sundaram has lived in the Boston, Massachusetts, area for the past 25 years. She is a singer-song-writer, guitarist, poet and writer who spent seventeen years as an 8th Grade English teacher at a local public school.  Only recently feeling the urge to publish, she’s been sending out her work to various literary magazines. Vijaya has been published in literary magazines Calliope and The Phoenix Rising Review. You can read more of Vijaya’s work on her blog, StrangeLander2015.

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