In a wheelchair
at a rural intersection
with the only traffic light for miles
sits a battered Teddy Bear
propping up a cardboard sign:
Homeless War Vet.

Under the shade of trees
a man with prosthetic legs
appears to snooze
through the awfulness
after twenty-eight straight days
without a bed or shower.

The sycamore trees,
old as the Civil War,
mark a property boundary
in the county land records
that go back
to nineteen-eighteen
when his great grandfather
purchased the farm
from the bank
after its owners,
with no successors,
died of the influenza.

With no traffic
at the red light
children bound
out of a solitary car
with less than
one dollar in change
for the Teddy Bear.
But that does not
fill his vest pocket
or the income gap
during the pandemic.

So history repeats itself.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Back Order

Teddy bear window display
halts three gossips
while the red traffic light matches nails, lipstick & hats.

In the corner cafe
a man sits sideways at window bar
his sunburnt neck fringed with gray curls.

Across the street a church
projects the Virgin of Guadalupe
upon its five story warehouse facade.

The Virgin stands unaware of crosswalks
and people, eyes down,
unsure which serpents need crushing.

The Sunday bells recording
electronically rings folks into the plain brick vestibule
and onto folding chairs, while the man

wears a newspaper face mask
and fetches from around the headline margins
his tea cup from the table for sipping.

The three gossips
pick it up as the light changes
and they flow with the crowd

toward manufactured sanctuary, atonement
and redemption for five dollars
dropped in the collection plate.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney