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Brian Grant

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New York, NY, US

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Two Passersby

by

Brian Grant

I saw a man the other day
His eyes were molted ash
Buried deep beneath sunken cheek
Where whiten bone set flash
His withered brow
Stooped to bow
Flowed to whiskered jaw
Spoke out to me its travesty
No more please God, no more.

A shutter shook loose my soul
My heart was filled with dread
From ancient book a memory took
Let the dead bury dead.

I thought to turn
To pass him by
But for a glance
Compelling eye
For it hurts you see
When a man must be
Near a soul that can but cry.

I reached my hand to that tattered cloth
And asked him do you think
Two passers by such as you and I
Might sit to share a drink?

He said he would
If he could
But the barkeep may not allow
Such as me
And what you see
And the sorrow marked his brow.
Come, come inside where by fireside
Flickering comforts blend
I know Mick
Behind the stick
And count him as a friend.

Soon the waitress came who I knew by name
Was Dublinís Kitty Foy
And a young man there as if in prayer
Sang mellow Danny Boy
The pints soon came and the white foam flowed
Upon the cloth of green
The old man folded heavy lids
And settled in a dream.

We sat awhile in silence there
Neither of us spoke
But listened to the cracking fire
And smelled its musty smoke
And all around There were some
Who laughed with gaiety
But they were young
Blind with life
Free from dark iniquity.

They could not know or should they
Through clouded happy eyes
How hard it is for man to see
A soul that only cries.

Then slowly from his bondage
He raised his old gray head
With voice born of anguish
In splintered words he said
Today you see before you
A man once young like you
Strengthened by a womanís love
A love I held as true
Once my heart was beating
With joy without a care
Once my soul would touch
Each leaf on chanted air
The rivers once flowed through me
Its wonder freely told
The world was mine to capture
The earth was in my fold.

Now you see before you
A man whoís lived in hell
Thirty years with demons
In a Dannamorea cell
And not the kind that haunt you
The sort that you may fight
But the kind that strips bare your soul
And steals your peace at night.
The sort that breaks the spirit
And tears your soul to thread
And visions in a empty cell
Of bloodied loversí bed
Of taunting spirits floating
My brother and my wife
The judgeís gavel screaming
Thirty years to life.

Today I am a free man
At least thatís what they say
Yet tonight inside another cell
With demons I must lay
Then a shudder tore right through him
And his eyes filled full with grief
The freedom that was offered
Held neither pity or relief.

I knew then that I knew him
The path we both had run
For today was my birthday
And I was thirty-one!
I left him there that evening
With the sorrow in his eye
For itís very hard to touch you see
A soul that can but cry.