Man of Woe

After school every day I would help out at my family business. I would sit out front and watch people as they passed by carrying on with their busy lives and I tried to guess their stories. One day I took notice of this particular gentleman whose encounter, to this day, I vividly remember. It was a brief exchange and that night I wrote a poem about it. My young brain at the time thought that every poem must rhyme. Enjoy!

Man of Woe

With a dirty little bicycle at his side
Walking up the hill like someone just died
Holding a cutlass so old and rusty
And a bag so torn, but yet so trusty
His cracked boots bore tears
He had been wearing them for years
He was beaded in perspiration
As he carried on in quiet desperation

I saw him walking so lonely and sad
In weary clothes, it was all he had
I heard him humming a gentle hymn
Under a crooked hat with no brim
He looked up briefly to say hello
He said he’d seen me here before
And when I offered to assist
He said, ‘no thanks’, with a clenched fist

I paused for a moment, taken aback
Deciding if I should retract
He then looked up and smiled faintly
And said he did not need anything from me
He got on his bike and started to peddle
Turned to me and yelled, ‘please don’t meddle’
Though his words hurt and I cried that night
I knew what I did was still right

Man of woe, man of pride
Try as you may, pain you can’t hide
Do not retreat out of fear
Do not lose hope in your time of despair
You have suffered for far too long
Pondering where it all went wrong
Don’t give up, don’t lose heart
Try again, you deserve a new start

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