Vox Populi

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Michael Simms: Jesus

Sixteen and running
From my father’s fists
I once tried to jump on a moving train

It happened on the outskirts
Of evening
Outside Houston 

And a guy
Who said his name 
Was Jesus 
 
Came out of the cane fields 
And started walking beside me 
Which scared me
 
A little because he looked hungry
Not mean just
Hungry but I’d read my Steinbeck
 
And knew the code of the rails
No man can deny another man
The right to move
 
Which would’ve been fine
If I’d been a man instead
Of a scared boy
 
Who didn’t know
He didn’t know and here was
A real hobo
 
Named Jesus who asked me
Where I was going which was
Nowhere so I said
 
North sounding like I meant it
And asked where he
Was going
 
No perticlar place he said
And shrugged 
and asked
 
Where I was from which was
Somewhere so I pointed
My chin South
 
And said Bout seven mile that way
Because that’s how real hobos
Talk and he looked South
 
And said sadly If I lived that close
I’d go home and I knew
I’d never felt sadness
 
The way a real hobo feels sadness
And then we heard 
A train coming
 
Behind us and we moved over
And waited and started running
And when the freight cars
 
Came by Jesus
Grabbed the ladder on the back
Of a car and swung
 
Himself up and I missed 
And fell
In the gravel and 
 
Lay there
Watching the caboose grow smaller
And smaller in the twilight

Copyright 2021 Michael Simms. From Nightjar by Michael Simms (Ragged Sky, 2021).

Michael Simms is the editor of Vox Populi. He was born and raised in Houston and currently lives in Pittsburgh.

10 comments on “Michael Simms: Jesus

  1. Patricia A. Nugent
    December 27, 2021

    Appreciate this colorful story for many reasons. And I love the stories of hobos during the Depression, who were distinguished from “tramps” and “bums” by their eagerness to work. People used to put hobo-friendly markings on their houses so they would know where it was safe to knock on a door upon arrival in a town (by train, of course!) Do you know the song “Hobo’s Meditation” by Jimmie Rodgers, later featured on the Parton/Harris/Ronstadt album “Trio”?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. allisonfine
    December 26, 2021

    Oh Jesus Michael, this made me cry the day after Christmas. I understand.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Leonore Wilson
    December 26, 2021

    LOVE this poem!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Barbara Huntington
    December 26, 2021

    Love this one. Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

  5. rickcam21
    December 26, 2021

    Good poem, Michael. Merry post christmas Rick

    Liked by 2 people

    • Vox Populi
      December 26, 2021

      Thanks, Rick. According to my wife Eva who is German, Christmas lasts 10 days. Today is the second day of Christmas. Happy second day!

      Liked by 1 person

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