Society says money doesn’t make the man,
but when man doesn’t make the money either,
then what does that make him?
He will lose his honor, his hope, his self-respect
trying every thought he thought he ever had
to make money in an honest way, and still,
his resumes will go unanswered.
Most managers won’t even reply to tell him
of his uselessness to them, keeping him baited on the job hook
trying to breathe, swim, drown in the same ripple of muscle.
He will forego his mind and return to his once-able body,
breaking brick and hauling mass for 20-hour days
until his back submits and crumbles like the faulty frame
of the first and last house he was finally hired to build.
He will lose his home, his family, his feed, his health, his worth –
because what’s a man good for if he can’t provide anything?
He may lose himself in drugs, in theft, in violence –
but he’s only trying to give back to the economy
what it had once gifted him so unexpectedly.
They’ll call him shiftless, shameless, homeless,
lazy, broke, dumb, unlucky, crazy, fucked –
but his fullest story will go untold.
His pain and struggle will go unnoticed
as the hobo squatting on your favorite street corner
not begging for anything, but offering
to exchange his hard-earned wisdom for a few coins
dropped in his paper cup. But you will pass
him without eyes meeting. You will not listen
and not reply to his calls, no matter what he cries.
You will only pull your sweetie tighter,
urge your legs to move faster
and try to outpace his too-human stench
before it infects your life
and passes on his disease.