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Charity Begins at Home

I’m not one to take up cudgels

no matter what cause to protect

or how plaintive it is spelled until last

year I spied a baby on the pavement a

rag of blanket and a plate for coins,

hundreds streaming by more interested

in bazaar fronts and food stands


In Istanbul the guide explained

twenty million live and another five

commute daily to work surrounded

by forty thousand mosques uncountable

shops and trolleys selling identical

pistachios and peanuts, five sizes of

bottled water, yogurt smeared over

endless skewers of roasted meat


Yesterday at home I lifted my month

old grandchild, kissed his fragrant

organic soap washed cheek, admired

his fashion designed baby carrier;

we bought his well-off parents a gift

of clothing they can afford to give

away and get something more exclusive


I think I’ve decided not to take that

trip to India after all there’s so many

places at home we haven’t explored yet


Mostly the charities I prefer supporting

are close to home where you can see

where the money goes, visit the orphanage,

see how the children are dressed nicely not

like those who run barefoot after you down

the street pulling at your clothes


I can’t remember if I put a coin into that

baby’s plate but I did notice its mother

sitting on the opposite side of the street

and come to think of it that baby wasn’t

crying, it had a wise old look on its face

as if it knew it was conning the gullible tourists

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© Johnmichael Simon



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