There’s a kid I don’t know,
lives under a bridge in town.
I call him Tommy. Tommy
UnderTheBridge. I don’t know
his real name: that’s not his pain,
that I don’t know his name.
He’s the real hero of the hour.
I have access to a hot meat, shower.
While he’s fighting the elements,
I’m piling on another blanket.
Bad for me is worse for him.
Always will be, always has been.
He’s not my imaginary friend.
I said at the onset, we’ve never met.
He’s an unknown lad that proves
there’s worse to be had than most
folks bad. I sometimes pass through
just to see if he’s around. I never see
him there, just proof, like Kirby,
he was there. And, like the vacuum,
as cars drive passed they push
trash to the suburban curb of his
temporary dive. Up the street
stands an Adopt-a-Highway sign.
He always eyes that sign
with malicious intent,
but never moves to harm it.
He recycles the cans he picks
out of the gutter and in 30
some-odd years he’s never
once seen the adopters.
That kid (I didn’t know) grew
into a man I still don’t know.
I made it through hell ’cause I knew
he had it worse and he was holding on.
Now, I want to ask him: Tommy,
did it ever get any better?
(But, as all our Tommies know –
without a doubt – it hasn’t yet).