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To the Homeless Man I Lied To, a Poem by Patrick Morgan

Homeless man
Photo by Nick Fewings

I’m sorry.  I didn’t recognize you,

in the soiled coat and blue jeans,

shuffling along the subway station,

praying for money from heaven.

I was on the phone, in a different

world, hoping you wouldn’t ask me,

but you did.  I repeated the line

older than your shoes: “I don’t have

any money.”  I lied.  My pockets

could have fed you for a week.

I told myself I was afraid

of you, that you were really a

druggie lying about hunger,

that you were waiting for me to show

my wallet before snatching it, or

any number of sordid scenarios.

As you shuffled away, I felt dirty,

but tried to forget.  But I can’t.

You were Lazarus and I was the rich man.

I didn’t recognize Christ beneath your skin.

God of the Subway Station, please

forgive me.  I will find you if I can.


Patrick Morgan is a Louisiana-based writer originally from Watertown, New York. His poems have appeared or are appearing in, among other venues, the Catholic Poetry Room and Footnote: A Literary Journal of History. His writings about poetry can be found in We Are Already One: Thomas Merton's Message of Hope: Reflections to Honor His Centenary (Fons Vitae), The Pocket Instructor: Literature (Princeton University Press), and The Pocket Instructor: Writing (Princeton University Press).


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