Academic journal article TriQuarterly


Academic journal article TriQuarterly


Article excerpt

he had a map in his mind where each one sat on a crate or squatted stood stretched out his hand holding a paper cup on Walnut Chestnut 17th 18th 16th everywhere downtown demanding money for food

he alternated between resentment anger and practicing compassion for those who had so little compared to him imagined himself rich giving them thousands in fact all he did was drop dimes and quarters sometimes nothing in their cups

he saw a millionaire friend of his once bend with great gentleness over one swaddled in a filthy blanket say quiet words then take out a large bill and hand it to him

he had constructed a technique for not experiencing how low they were for repressing his fear of being them swathed in grime and rags companioned by their wounded plastic garbage bags swollen with all they owned

he could walk by without a twinge of guilt for not kneeling to sympathize to kiss

he had eliminated his original persistent fantasy of taking one home especially the old man trembling on Locust Street so bent he couldn't look up to thank you when he thanked you letting him sleep in a room of his huge house like family maybe having him clean fix things bringing him meals

he hadn't done it and never would the basic dog-eat-dog that's-his-problem primitive survival mode was what impelled him purged this illusion of true purpose

he absorbed their poverty the way body absorbs and filters out air polluted by car exhaust factories whatever shit falls out from industry

he knew some helpless part of his soul needed them there to reinforce his illusion of success needed his resignation his acceptance of their fate it seemed to solve the incessant inner struggle of accepting his own death really letting it be at last until you feel your heart's a purely loving organ

he killed in his mind the duplicate of himself listening to the moron sprawled drooling half-speechless listened so well the man was "cured" but of what? …

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