Learning to give in the spirit of one who begs

means first you have to learn how to beg.

I think of my drunk friend telling

a homeless guy in DC:  get a J-O-B.

A few years later, drunk again, hits a tree.

He told me once that his father would

come home drunk, come into his room

with a gun, threaten to blow his brains out.


He never said if he’d pretend to be asleep, cry

plead, pray, or how he’d rise the next day,

go to school, return to that room, lie down & wait.

He never said if he knew why any man would

want to see his own son begging for his life.


The stories about miracles confuse everything.


(This poem originally appeared in jubilat and is part of a crown of sonnets beginning and ending with lines from Simone Weil’s notebooks.)

More poems online

The Alphabet Conspiracy


The Poetry Foundation




The Rumpus


Lavender Review


Driftless Review






Cortland Review