The very trailing edges of the whispers you've become
linger like homeless men in the doorway of my ears.
They huddle together, as if to make their voice louder,
their number more difficult to walk past unheard.
And when I dare at all to look their direction, they turn
my way with pleading eyes and outstretched hands,
never for a moment understanding that I gave all I had
until the pockets themselves were torn out and surrendered.
You were first and always an empty, leaky vessel.
Like the magician's top hat, your brim swallowed all,
received milk and honey drained by the pitcherful
into your volume, vanishing somewhere in a sleight of hand.
Yet I am no lighter for the giving of all I gave,
weighted by new pockets that sag now with emptiness,
a burden as difficult to bear as your endless need.
And still, as I stumble from carrying the poverty of you,
your whispers shamble in aimless vagrancy inside my soul,
begging more warmth from the meager embers you left of me.
Only when night darkens my sheltering memory can they see
and recognize me, wearing tatters no better than their own.
Only then do these derelicts of my affection stumble away,
staking claim to all the cold corners where I might sleep.
About the Poem
There are people who come in and out of our lives. Some of them leave behind delicate memories that enrich the rest of our time. Some leave us poorer than they found us. This poem is about the ghosts left behind by someone who takes more than gives. Here is a video interpretation of this poem, read by David:
Vagrants: a poemEverybody who has written a poem has written a broken heart poem. This is the most haunting of mine. View on YouTube
This poem is previously unpublished. It was written January 21, 1999. Revised slightly February 22, 2002.