THIRD STREET PROMENADE
I went for a walk along the ocean,
Thought the scenery might do me good.
Cold reality changed my perception
Of a once beautiful neighborhood.
I saw chessboards with losers on both sides
Betting street drugs against foodstamps.
The walkway littered with empty bottles,
Walls with graffiti, broken streetlamps.
Knocked over trash cans, rummaging bums,
Teenagers proudly brandishing knives.
Alcoholics begging for spare change.
Pretty women prostituting their lives.
I saw a busboy beating on a vagrant
For trying to eat someone's leftover food.
Only to promptly throw it away
With a "Holier than Thou" attitude.
Saddened, I walked back towards my hotel.
But before I got there, against the wall,
I saw him sitting dark and silent.
I saw a man who lost it all.
His eyes stared off into nothingness.
His face, the visage of despair.
He never moved, nor made a sound,
I'm not even sure he knew I was there.
An army jacket, camouflage pants.
The dog tags told me this man had served.
Only to be forsaken and forgotten,
Coming home to a life so undeserved.
I offered money, I offered food,
The man never lifted an eye.
I couldn't give him what he needed,
I couldn't give him a reason "Why?"
Spray-painted on the wall above him,
The words "Love thy neighbor" boldly displayed -
The forgotten values of a society,
Lost in class levels by which friends are weighed.
Late that night, I went back to find him.
But in the distance hearing trumpets fade.
I realized Peace gave him his answer
In the cheerless Third Street Promenade.
I stopped a moment to count my blessings,
Looking out to the stars above me.
In noticing my less fortunate brothers,
I wondered what they must be thinking of me.
For the first time I saw how their eyes shined
With emotion only a God-given soul contrives.
And I realized it's people, not scenery,
That bring true beauty to our lives.
May Darkness find you all through the day.