Have Mercy on the Homeless Man
by Laurie Kolp

A backpacked waxen-skinned man
walks down the aisle in the middle of mass

a disheveled mess with hair unkempt
like a kid coming in on a hot summer day.

All heads turn to the man with the backpack,
all eyes watch him bump into an usher

who passes the basket from pew to pew
collecting money. All see him take a seat and reach

for his bag, all eyes are wide. He takes out
a Kleenex, cleans his face and places it atop his head.

The choir sings a psalm of love while others
stare at the man who now talks out loud

and points to the priest on the altar. I witness
parishioners leave, police arrive. I see

the man refused communion two times
the man begging for a wafer turned down

as people filter out before the final prayer.



About the Poet: Laurie Kolp’s poems have appeared in the Southern Poetry Anthology VIII: Texas, Stirring, Whale Road Review, Pith, Rust + Moth, and more. Her poetry books include the full-length Upon the Blue Couch and chapbook Hello, It’s Your Mother. An avid runner and lover of nature, Laurie lives in Southeast Texas with her husband, three children, and two dogs. @KolpLaurie