Thursday, April 24, 2008

Spare Change

I walk down the streets and hear the same words repeated day after day, “Spare change?” I dig deep, coming up with quarters, nickels and dimes. I take them with me from the dish in the porch at home, the place everyone drops their coins on the way in the door, what was left over from coffees and bus fares, from the bakers and butchers, the pay phones and vending machines that for some reason found them unacceptable – the weight was wrong. Some of them faded. Some new. The taste of a thousand hands and machine oil, the million miles traveled by the penny to become...

“Spare change?” I dig deeper. Beneath the sods and sewers and subway lines, beneath the sleeping bags in the alleys, the shopping carts rattling with bottles leading shoeless Joes down unnamed streets. Beneath the woman in front of the liquor store who claims she wants bread. Beneath the kid on every corner with a cardboard sign saying, Made a mistake... just want to go home. Under the junkie who turns down a free sandwich, seemingly ungrateful for your great act of charity, his stomach too withered for solid food now can only accept Ensure shakes and...

“Spare change?” I run my fingers along the seam of my pocket, coming up with flakes of tobacco set free from the pack, some lint. I have nothing more to give for the cold hard fact is that change comes only from within, and not from the beggar, not from the down-trod and homeless, not from the ones who've slipped through the cracks, but from you. You who are rich in happiness and in health and in gold. You who feel a vain form of pride when you lower yourself to the level of those you think are beneath you because they sit on the sidewalk, your brothers and sisters, your forgotten family. For in this life we are all one and truth be told it is they who are loved by the God and you who must dig deep for... spare change.


human being said...

these are my unspoken words, Hopper... believe me...
this quantum entanglement is working crazy hard!
read this, my dear friend...

chook said...

Hi Hopper, I have posted my story from's a deal on my blog. Do I now choose someone from my blogosphere or yours to continue

Tania said...

Hi hopper, this reminded me of a song by a late SA artist called Johannes Kerkorrel. It is a song about a rather unsavory part of Johannesburg called Hillbrow. It speaks about the impoverished lives of those who live there. The chorus goes: "gee jou sente, jou drome, jou klere vol gate,
gee jou hart vir Hillbrow" which translates to "give your cents, your dreams, your clothes full of holes, give your heart to Hillbrow."

Bobbb - Citizen of Earth said...

As for me
I made peace long ago
With brothers and sisters everywhere
For we are all one

As I am one with the Eagle
The River
The ant and the shrew
I feel it within me

Take no more than you need
Use less
Want less
Waste less
Procreate less
Appreciate More

And each other

sukipoet said...

I guess I think it's most important to help out when and how we can regardless of the thoughts one has about it. "Don't believe your thoughts" is a Shambala saying which seems shocking at first yet it grows on you. I'm thinking about your thoughts re: feeling a vain pride in giving to those in need.

I like what Bobbb says above, the sense of not taking more than one needs, procreate less definitely, well all of them. Be well, Namaste, Suki

Mim said...

Life's unfairness can be such a conundrum...

Francis Scudellari said...

This reminds me of a sentiment expressed by the writer Eduardo Galeano (can't remember which book, and I'm paraphrasing): Charity is vertical, and fraternity is horizontal.