There was a time I pictured the homeless
As drug addicts, child molesters, and lazy people.
That’s what I was shown when people talked about them.
I thought a dollar given was a dollar wasted,
Imagined the dirty man walking into the liquor store to buy a pint,
Not him buying a hot meal to fill a growling stomach.
No, I believed what I saw, was told, and didn’t ask questions.
They never showed me the younger sister taking her big brother
Out in the country, so he could pitch a tent because she didn’t
Have the money to feed both of them,
So she gave food because he wanted to do it on his own,
Because he needed to do it on his own, so he could turn his life
Back into something worth fighting for.
They didn’t show me the sister crying in her bed that night,
because she couldn’t fix what’s wrong,
Because she couldn’t make it right that some people have to hit
Rock bottom so that they can have solid ground
To crawl back to their feet again.
The only thing they ever hit the bottom
Of is their $120 dollar bottle of wine they drank with dinner.
No, they never showed me a picture of someone
Like me, a little sister, letting her big brother do it the hard
Way because she has to, he has to overcome a felony record,
A past addiction he fought off, a lot of anger at life,
And the sensation of being alone in the world full of people.
He has to do it to become the man he wants to be,
That he can be. They don’t show anyone that.
They judge the less fortunate because they have never walked a mile
In somebody else’s shoes that were found in a dumpster
Behind the local grocery store and happen to be a half size too small
With a hole in the toe that lets the December wind scrape
Against their skin. They judge them from their life of luxury,
But someday, it will be their turn to be judged, maybe my turn.
Wouldn’t it feel righteous for them to see the smug look
On our face as the flames lick our Gucci loafers or stilettos?
By Jenna Neece
Jenna Neece is an Oklahoma native. She has a bachelor’s degree in English and is working on her MFA in Poetry Writing at Oklahoma State University. She works as a GTA for Oklahoma State University English Department, is PR Coordinator for the OSU Writing Center, and in August she was a featured poet on featuredpoet.com with more work forthcoming.