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One of my co-workers, Cedric Gore, happened to be looking at the About page from this blog and asked me the other day, “What’s this poem of yours, oldblackman?” I told him, “It’s a poem I wrote in college about seeing a homeless black man on the side of the road and thinking about how all my white friends wouldn’t be willing to help him in the prejudiced South.” I went to pull it up to show him and quickly discovered that the poem pre-dated me being on the internet and that there is no record of it on this site or any of my sites, besides the mention of it on my About page. I had to go find my actual copy of the published version of it (pictured above) and sent it to Cedric so he could see the poem. I’m also providing the screenshot above here, and transcribing it below for future internet reference.

This poem, “oldblackman,” has been published twice: originally in the 1996 edition of Sigma Tau Delta’s International Literary publication, The Rectangle just after I graduated college, and then republished in Illinois State University’s 1997 edition of Druid’s Cave, when I was in graduate school.

Please note that all misspellings in the poem are intentional:


I saw an old black man on the side of the road
walking, skinny wrinkled with white-gray beard
wearing army clothes all green and worn
looking about aimlessly as he tottered typsy on
I thought I should
pickhimup and givehimaride and
but no
not that I think he’d hurt me
[mymamma always told me
 dont evereverever pickup strangers]
or make my car smell like booze
but no
noonewould help me help him
[when the young boy Max
 was kicked outa his house
 by his boozin da and witchin ma
 and his sister(little; he is 12
 but she was evenlittler)
 had killed herself
 (I felt all sick inside when I heard)
 allallall my friends
 helped him fed him
 gave him shelter
 gave him cigarettes
 gave him beer
 contributed to the delinquency
 of one already inclined towards
 when he was young white they helped
this oldblackman is
old and black
and drunkndirty
[if we give him money
 heelonly buybooze
and I wonder
how he stands
wearing that longgreencoat
eightykitillion degrees and humid
ithinka coldnights and noplacetostay
but myfriendsid neverhavim
cause hees
andtheyre just rednecks anyhoo
[not racist really; just
 dangerous in ignorance]
so I just keep driving
in my nice cooshy car.
Ive dammed myself with acquaintences.