Christmas 1973

Christmas this year
Should cost at least
A thousand dollars.

It should be
In the Ideal Bar & Grill
On 163rd and St. Nicholas
Waiting for the first
Tattered little boy
To come in selling
Tomorrow’s morning papers
Roughing up his hair,
Giving all his papers away
And giving him
A hundred dollar bill.

It should be
Walking through the
Bowery,
Finding the drunk
Shivering in the dark doorway
And giving him,
Instead of a religious tract
Or lecture,
A hundred dollar bill.

It should be walking,
Down Beale Street,
Stopping the first
Poor black child,
Giving him a smile
And a hundred dollar bill.

It should be
In Albuquerque.
Not a donation to a fund,
But taking the time to find
The sad-eyed Chicano child,
Taking him to a toy store
And letting him run riot.
Picking up the tab, the
toys and him and
To take them to
Wherever or to whatever
His home may be,

And leaving him the change
Of a hundred dollar bill.

It should be in San Diego
Out on the wharf,
With the old fisherman
Who mends nets
Because the tuna
Don’t run for him anymore.
A “Vaya con Dios”
And a hundred dollar bill.

It should be
In a Santa Monica Bar,
Smiling at the tired barmaid
Who came to the coast
To be a star
And only found reality,
Giving her conversation,
Respect,
And a hundred dollar bill.

It should be in
A Nob Hill restaurant.
Giving the maitre d’
A smile. And the busboy,
Who no one has noticed
All year,
A hundred dollar bill.

It should be
With a little old lady
In San Francisco’s Mission
Street
Selling flowers, Late at night
In the Tenderloin
Taking all her
Wilted posies,
Giving her a kiss
And a hundred dollar bill.

It should be
In Seattle’s skid row
Down near the Totem Pole
In Pioneer Square,

Giving the startled
Indian panhandler
A measure of returned pride
And a handshake
And a hundred dollar bill.

It should be the last saved
For the thief
Anywhere,
Who needs it worse
Than anyone,
Not just the money
But the need to
Be superior to someone.
Let him steal from me
A hundred dollar bill.

But most of all…
To have any value at all,
Let Christmas Day find me
Broke,
With empty pockets
Hanging inside out,
Still
In
Love
With
Man.

By Robert H. Harbridge, 1973

I miss you dad. As I read your poem this year I realized, I may have lost my “still in love with man” a little this year. I have been surrounded of late by so much ‘mean’ behavior that I got some of it on me I suppose.

Recommitted. To that last thought. Etc.

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