A homeless man in his 50s was found frozen to death the morning after Christmas at a downtown bus stop in the city I call home….though it might have been any city on earth where cold weather reigns this time of year.  Local homeless advocates said he was known to them: a drug addict who recently relapsed after staying clean for several months.

The homeless here have no ‘home’ in which to stay (homeless shelters are open only overnight, not all day), but each one has a name, a face, and (no doubt at some point in his or her life) a dream. The frozen man’s name was Ken Martin. His face was invisible. His dream? Perhaps it was something along the lines of this poem I wrote years ago:


Suppose a homeless man came upon
what survived of a tattered old jacket,
abandoned, like himself,
to the elements….
and in that tattered garment,
crumpled up inside a pocket,
a winning lottery ticket
might transform his existence.

But first, that paper future must be
found, and then, having been found,
not tossed like litter to the gutter,
unopened and unexamined.
Let us further suppose
the deadline to claim its prize
was coming at midnight
of that very day.

That night, in winter’s turn,
the man had a dream
that he could live his life
all over again,
knowing in his lost youth
what he knew now
so that all the choices
and hidden chances
of wasted turning points
again lay open before him.

But the thought made him cringe
— regret was a fire
that gave pain without heat.
He awoke in cold sweat
to the taste of snow
on the cracks of his lips,
pulling tight the collar
of today’s good fortune.
What luck to have found
a buffer against fate.





21 comments on “WINTERDREAM

  1. Carmen says:

    A person has to really wonder about their chances not taken, eh? We’ve just been adversely affected by a death of a homeless relative. He had been living on the streets for five years, with no apparent direction to his life or want to do anything constructive, it seemed. Only 25 years old and had many opportunities but didn’t act on them.
    So terribly sad.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lavinia Ross says:

    I am sorry for the loss of this man’s life, and all his missed opportunities, hopes and dreams. May he rest in peace.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. arekhill1 says:

    Nicely penned, Sr. Muse.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. mistermuse says:

    Thanks, Ricardo. I thought the poem was pretty good when I wrote it years ago, but now I think perhaps I overdid the pathos and should stick to humor. Decisions, decisions….


  5. Beautiful poem and so moving. All those what if’s and the fear and pain and regrets and choices and lack of choices. There is no reason for anyone to be so alone and left out in the cold in this country.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Garfield Hug says:

    Really sad! Nice share and I do empathize with the homeless.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. mistermuse says:

    Carmen, I’ll thank you to leave my brass monkeys out of this. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Don Frankel says:

    Right now we are under the maelstrom of a Bomb Cyclone. In this extreme weather they send out the police to pick up the homeless. The rest of the time… nothing. What’s the difference?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. mistermuse says:

    Beats the heck out of me, Don. Cities somehow usually manage to come up with the money for their pet projects. Too bad the homeless aren’t pets — they’d probably have a better chance of being taken care of.


  10. Don Frankel says:

    Muse I think you’re onto something. if I remember this correctly I think it was Noel Coward who speaking about the Holocaust said it if were six million dogs no one would have stood for it.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Stories like this really sadden me. People take so much for granted and often look down on those who are homeless. We never know what life has in store for us and many of us may be a few bad circumstances away from being homeless as well. Great poem!

    Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse says:

      Thank you, Cheryl. Your comment reminds me of the old phrase “There but for the grace of God go I.” However, many persons in positions of power and/or wealth apparently lack the empathy to picture themselves in the other guy’s shoes (assuming the other guy has shoes).


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