A Tale of Two Beggars

A Tale of Two Beggars

It is the best of times; it is the worst of times.
Insiders set their tables with only the finest china,
and fat cat donors come to plunk down checks,
thirty-five thousand dollars for a seat at the table.

Outside, a man sits slumped on the concrete
sidewalk, collecting a few coins in a tin cup
placed between his bootless feet, a sign
propped upon his lap: will work for food.

I don’t know the street beggar’s story, how he
came to hard times, or if hard times came to him.
I see his sign as holding on to a crumb of dignity.
Give him that; at least he’s not a greedy bastard.

Inside the polite dinner conversation turns
to immigration reform, and the silk-purse
donor on the right has the politician’s ear:
Give us no more tired or poor, he scoffs,

no more huddled masses yearning for anything,
no more wretched refuse from any teeming shore.
And for god’s sake, he gestures profusely, send
the homeless elsewhere, we’ve enough now of our own.

In the harbor, the Lady’s lamp is slowly dimming,
and the once-golden door is locked and barred.

Note: The Statue of Liberty was locked during the government shutdown.

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