Waking up in a bus station

on the floor

next to vomit

Probably mine.


A ringing in my head

gives way to the steady march

of commuters bustling past,

who don’t even know I’m there.


I light half a cigarette

saved from the night before

and watch as the world goes by

Someone throws a dollar at my feet.


A cop kicks my backside

and staring ahead

following some hot ass from Jersey

he orders me to move

Then walks to the next guy

and does the same


and over

down the line.


I grab the buck and stuff it into my shoe

where seven other bucks welcome it

I think about how my day will go

A pack of smokes

A subway token

A sixer of tall boys

to knock out the pain

and gag the inevitable fear

that will come screaming

moments before my final act.


I walk invisibly through the streets

under a heavy sky

to a soup kitchen

where I sit alone eating bread and eggs

until a man approaches

asking me to join him

in the chapel

for consultation.

I leave

and make my way

down by the river

where I sit and marvel at the world around me

wondering how it all came to this

Wishing I had a toothbrush.


The clouds start to thin

and I decide that it’s time

so I head to a liquor store

to spend the last of my money,

save for a subway token.


But they refuse to serve me

So I argue, to no avail

and storm outside

where I am blinded by sunlight

And somehow


takes hold.


This is the fourth poem of my personal 30-day poetry challenge to break away from the machine to think about things that don’t matter. I wrote this poem in remembrance of the day my life changed forever. – Jim

Photo by Peter Shankman


Jim Mitchem

Writer. Father to daughters. Husband. Ad man. Raised by wolves. @jmitchem on twitter. First novel, Minor King, out now.

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