Tom Gengler: “With Stephen to an Inside Place”

With Stephen to an Inside Place

I finally figured out you were living in the alley.
You were up at daylight and gone
before I got up.

It hurt me to see that you had to use a walker
to get around—to go more than
three or four steps.

It was far into winter when I got to know you
and found out you were a veteran.
Your story told me

that the boy from the Pennsylvania woods
was trained to stand in harm’s way
for the puppet masters,

for the Hydra of uber-wealthy who are
thieves by any other name.
For them war

is only a means to an end. Men like Stephen
are used. They are used up and thrown

You were the 1958-made fragile Christmas
ornament run over by a half-track.
You were left

to put the thousand thin glass pieces back together.
You had a stroke that crippled you.
Your body clenched.

I have felt your frozen hands when you slept outside
on concrete in the blanket bag in the snow
on top of cardboard.

Today I took you to an inside place.
Sleep, Stephen, sleep in your bed.
Let the shards

come back together as you dream.
Let the beloved boy come back,
and we’ll have coffee again.

About the Author: Tom Gengler was born and raised in Oklahoma. His degrees are in classics/philosophy (undergraduate) and theology (graduate). Among his favorite poets are Seamus Heaney, Thom Gunn, Lyn Lifshin, Marge Piercy, Charles Bukowski, Annabelle Moseley, Simon Perchik and Timothy Steele. He has had poetry published in ProgenitorBlue Collar ReviewExit 13, and The Worcester Review. His poems are forthcoming in ONE ARTStreetlight, and Westview


Image Credit: Helene Schjerfbeck “The Door” (1884) Public domain image courtesy of Artvee

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