Download document

VOSS, Fred


Every time

a homeless man walking a sidewalk crazy with the pain inside him is passed

by us

driving our good cars with our good jobs something dies

inside of us every time

we leave a homeless man crumpled against some wall

on asphalt where he must try to sleep in the cold and go home

to climb into our warm beds something dies

inside of us every time

on some street corner because he has failed to gather enough change

to eat again some man's

head falls as the last drop of hope drains out of him

at age 40 something dies

inside of us as

all our cold cash in those bank vaults



No reason

to get up each morning looking and hoping for love

that you will never find no reason

to spend your life wrenching words out of your heart

writing novel after novel after novel that will never get published,

no reason

to leave your heart wide open to a child or parent or lover

who will never love you or to

enter that race and run it over and over when

you will never win or to stare up at the stars night after night


why we are here when

you will never get an answer no reason

to keep trying to say something in a poem

or painting or song that

can never be said,


for that thing inside of us that must never stop trying.

Sometimes maybe the only difference is


they are locked up and retreat into corners of padded rooms

and never talk again and sometimes

they run companies for years sometimes

they babble to themselves as they walk the streets in rags and sometimes

they drive Porsches

in $1000 suits sometimes

they cry and cringe in bed for the rest of their lives and sometimes

they take over countries and give speeches on the radio

to millions of people sometimes

they are too scared to talk or look at

another human being ever again and sometimes

they hold the lives of thousands of employees

In their hands sometimes

they draw knifeblades through the veins in their wrists and sometimes

they order thousands of people to be fired

or killed sometimes

they think they are Napoleon and sometimes

they are Napoleon.


Laid off,

in a little trailer by a guard gate the machinists

are stripped

of tools out of their toolboxes

and photo i.d. badges

and company shirts,


of incomes,


of usefulness at 45 or 51 or 55


and sent out the gate like little boys,

little boys

with families

and mortgages

and lifetimes of pride

on the line

who must now beg

other companies for the right

to be adults.

On the Bottom

It was always the big desks

that the foremen or owners of machine shops sat behind 

in tiny offices as they told me they had no work available 

and that there was no work available anywhere 

and that they had never seen it this bad, 

it was always those desks separating me from them and a job and a paycheck 

that hurt, and the doors

swinging shut behind those owners and foremen as they walked 

out of their offices back into their shops

full of machines and machinists cutting metal, 

doors slamming shut 

like 100 or 200 times before and leaving me 

to walk the sidewalks that could soon 

be my home.  

Desks and doors more important

than my life.