Mr. Shine sat in the back bedroom
of the second floor walk up.
Not sayin’ a word to anyone
fourteen days without interrupt.

He would only smile and mumble
when he came out to get him a plate,
as he awaited two weeks impatiently
hoping his check would not be late.

At the end of the month he shuffled,
cane in hand, down the block to the liquor store.
Staggering back sippin’ from a brown bag,
cussin’ people out, only God knows what for.

I had no idea the demons he saw
his eyes glassy, drooling mouth verbose.
The ghosts that haunted his memories,
as each swig made him more bellicose.

Whatever his thoughts, he didn’t like me,
and made it easy for me to reciprocate.
But I felt sorry when I heard they found him
on a Harlem sidewalk, dead, one night, late.

How unnatural those natural causes,
cirrhotic liver, alcohol toxicity.
Decades of escapism and self destruction
ended in rigor mortis’ rigidity.

Mr. Shine never hurt a soul,
none of which I was ever aware.
Except, that is, he hurt himself,
as do too many more out there.

M. Zane McClellan

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