September 1, 2015


Say his name.

Say you've seen him walking down Central,
blending in with college kids, men who party early and often
and now, look at news stories, social media feeds and his arrest in Roosevelt Park
on a Friday afternoon.

Say fifteen years ago you and he were regulars in a dive bar on a regular week night
and you danced to a band that a lot of people found fun,
 just to get away from a lonely life and path that didn't at all look familiar.

Say you'd talk on the patios, the bars that hadn't kicked him out
and you never knew his name.
Say his name.

Say you'd see him,
run into him at Walgreen's.
He'd ask you to buy him beer, hand you cash.
He'd lost his license and knew you as a familiar, friendly face.

Say you turned away passed off the request, mumbling as you walked by.
He seemed a little bit lost, and you felt it just wasn't right,
like drinking wasn't also a way that you passed time..

Say you talked to your wife on what if anything you could do.
She worked in mental health, didn't have a quick fix but asked,
"Did he smell?"
"Did his clothes look particularly ratty?"
Not anymore than usual.
"Did you acknowledge that you knew him?"
Sort of.

Say you'd seen him on Central by the University
and you knew he was "falling down."
You could see it but didn't know what else to do.
You'd bob your head in acknowledgement as he walked by.

Say his name,
and read  the article of his arrest,
indecent exposure to children in a park.
He'd been wondering around the park and finally the police closed in after someone took a photo.

Say he's more than a felon, a criminal, mentally ill,
say we don't know how to help sometimes
and sometimes we're just afraid.

Say how else was this story going to end.
Say his name.
Say his name.
Say his name.
August 31, 2015

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