Meditation on my last day in Louisville

Last time chilling on the stoop at the spot, right next to the freeway, in a depressed part of town where a man will sell you a clock on the street for two cigarettes and one-on-one conversations are had by the woman from down the alley under the overpass in the middle of the night.
Teens of all colors—indigo and Nubian and khaki and Dijon and roseate—serving dog food to everyone not serving dog food, except for the ducking heads scattered about the neighborhood in various states of stroke-like repose. Nor to those sick junkies without enough blue Presidents, ambling throughout the streets like the undead, lost and desolate and famished for a taste of old Ron Brown.
Tallboys wrapped in brown paper condoms. Checks cashed for a small fee. A half block with projects on one face and on the opposite, gazing their blinded windows on the poor, sit three funeral homes, as if to whisper to the children of the State, I’ve been with you since your first breath, and I when you take your very last, I collect you.
All of life an escape from Collectors. Collectors of love. Collectors of back taxes. Collectors of time. Collectors of human labor, of human capital, cannibalizing on the lifeblood of the less fortunate. So the meek shall inherit the Earth? I would settle for a cool two million.
I see myself in the face of every homeless man I see. I always have. All of my life, since I can very first remember, I worried about being without. My parents were teachers—mom was a pre-school teacher and my pops worked in various educational capacities for the Archdiocese. So we never got fruit roll-ups or swiss cakes or bags of chips or Little Debbie’s mocking face in our brown bags, but peeled carrots and PB&J and knock-off California raisins. Christmas time was a study of humility but also blinding jealousy and resentment over the lavish smorgasbord of gifts my fellows’ parents rained on their spoiled, entitled butter-sandwich eating faces. Every Sunday after Mass we hopped in the Plymouth Voyager and headed to the soup kitchen to serve food to the homeless. I learned not to touch the lip of the Kool-aid cups because people were drinking from them. I learned that if I looked at them in a certain way, I could see them as they were when they were just children. I learned they were children just like me. Scared. Each with his or her own mother. Each, teeth or not, with a smile. I learned that inside that shell maybe there was a human soul. It changed me forever, serving the homeless, even though I dreaded Sundays for that reason six days a week. And yet today, no bullshit—I will give you the sweater off my back, my last cigarette, my last clean pair of socks. So, why then, do I sometimes still feel soiled in the eyes of God?

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