Sunday in CinCity

Many, many years ago when I was a young nurse we had a patient who was admitted frequently after being picked up by the police for sleeping in the park. His name, which we will agree on as James, could begin an avalanche of moaning and itching among the ICU staff as he almost always came in with lice and was definitely always very determined to get his own way. I loved James. I don't know why. But, I did and we got along. He made me laugh. It floored me that he would come in as the poster child for A Hot Damn Mess and we would work hard to clean him and patch him up only for him to leave AMA and refuse to leave until we gave him clothes. We had "stolen"his. The man still had moxie.

I met his brother once, towards the end--a dentist from one of the suburbs where they had both grown up. James "had some kind of break" and left the circle of his family to become one of the faceless and homeless men who wander through our city. It was because of James that I met Buddy Gray who ran the Drop-In Center downtown and what an inspiration he was. Buddy was a man who walked his talk and lived his beliefs out loud.

Buddy was killed by a homeless man he had known for years. James had died a few years before and, as fate sometimes works, I was with him at his bedside. I have never forgotten either man and will always consider myself blessed to have been in their circles.

Simply Lit

by Malena Morling

Often toward evening,

after another day, after

another year of days,

in the half dark on the way home

I stop at the food store

and waiting in line I begin

to wonder about people—I wonder

if they also wonder about how

strange it is that we

are here on the earth.

And how in order to live

we all must sleep.

And how we have beds for this

(unless we are without)

and entire rooms where we go

at the end of the day to collapse.

And I think how even the most

lively people are desolate

when they are alone

because they too must sleep

and sooner or later die.

We are always looking to acquire

more food for more great meals.

We have to have great meals.

Isn't it enough to be a person buying

a carton of milk? A simple

package of butter and a loaf

of whole wheat bread?

Isn't it enough to stand here

while the sweet middle-aged cashier

rings up the purchases?

I look outside,

but I can't see much out there

because now it is dark except

for a single vermilion neon sign

floating above the gas station

like a miniature temple simply lit

against the night.


  1. I know a "James" too....and often wonder how long I will know him....he won't last long either I fear.....take care...

  2. I've cared for a few men like James in my day. They do tend to tug at the heartstrings.

  3. Why does life have to be so damn hard for so many people ?

  4. A design by the cosmos surely was in place to have you there at his deathbed. I bowed my head in memory of each of these men you wrote about here.

    This hit home tonight (early Monday a.m.), as the Portland police and Occupy Portland protesters successfully, together, cleared the two parks of their encampments this evening. One officer was injured (is fine now) early on, and the Occupiers pushed the person responsible forward to the police so they could arrest him. The emotions ebbed and flowed for over 24 hours as the police stuck to the chief's mantra of "Patience." There were pockets of heightened activity, but overall no violence. I am so proud of Portland, and am sure that Oakland is watching as it plans its third attempt to close Occupy Oakland.

    When the mayor announced the 12:01 a.m. Sunday deadline two days ahead of the time, volunteers from service agencies began combing the camps for the homeless and mentally ill among the Occupiers in order to secure them elsewhere if they agreed. I was impressed that so much effort was given to that right away, so then the Occupiers could decide among themselves how to react to the order to clear.

    So tonight the parks are fenced off and city workers will begin to clean and roll in new lawn. The word is that much of the cost has already been pledged by Portlanders who agree with the movement. The Occupiers have meetings scheduled to decide where to go from here.
    And, hopefully, many of the homeless who lived in the camps with them have found the care they desperately need. I hope that so much media coverage of this event will enlighten people to the plight of the homeless/disturbed and that they act on this reminder.

  5. I came to Cincinnati when I was in college (Mars Hill College in western NC) as part of a January trip. We were coming to the inner city to help out at the Free Store & to work on projects. We met Buddy Gray on that trip. He just seemed outrageous to me then - I was amazed & awed. I kept a poetry journal of that trip. I've posted one poem on my blog. If you're interested you can click on the Over-the-Rhine tax in the left column. It's interesting to me that I came back up here to live 10 years after that college trip...


Post a Comment

Hey, thanks for your thoughts and your time:>)

Popular posts from this blog

Saturday in CinCity. The CollegeGrrrl Guest Writer Edition.

Sunday in CinCity. The "Three Things I Know About Life...It Goes On" Edition

A Year with EB White