In a Wal-Mart Parking Lot

by Philip C. Kolin

In the Wal Mart parking lot
a yellow spark mocks
the blessings of the stars. Going into 
this dark emptiness, she processes down
corridors of cars repeating her
five-second monologue:
“Pardon me, sir, I am homeless.
Can you spare a dollar.” She sets her
needs low in expectation of something higher.
Pres. Washington won’t buy her a meal.

The hostile silence of most shoppers
snarl passed her, thorns in their wallets.
This is not the landscape of charity. 
Worse still are plaintiffs against her poverty
whose words stone her into further humiliation
caught in the act of seeking solace. 
But rejection turns out to be

the other side of kindness when
a roundup customer reaches 
into his conscience and gives her
a Hamiltonian feast at McDonald’s.
Too few shoppers will ever receive
an almoner’s blessing.

Philip C. Kolin is the Distinguished Professor of English Emeritus and Editor Emeritus of the Southern Quarterly. He has published over 40 books (on Shakespeare, modern dramatists) and including 15 collections of poetry, most recently Reaching Forever (in the Poiema Series of Wipf and Stock), Delta Tears: Poems (Main Street Mag), and Wholly God: Poems about Holiness (Wind and Water Press). His poetry has appeared in many Christian journals and has four times been selected as the featured poet for journals. He founded and edited the journal Vineyards: A Journal of Christian Poetry.

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