Looking Normal in Kew Gardens
It’s normal not to think about the mentally ill homeless,
until one picks up a six-year-old in your neighborhood,
just playing in his driveway, and smashes his head against
the pavement. I heard this homeless guy screaming, down
the block from my building, as he was being arrested.
Didn’t look out my window at first: Metropolitan Avenue
is a busy main strip of yelling, cars, sirens; sometimes
I get tired of rushing to the window to find out what’s up.
This tall white shirtless guy in cuffs was walked calmly
by my window, not knowing at all what he did yesterday.
On the news today, heard after being caught, the first words
out of his mouth, were “I’m Bi-polar.” I wonder if he really is.
Every single diagnosed bipolar I ever met, and I met a lot
as a psychiatric rehab counselor, was nonviolent as could be.
I don’t care what he is: when I heard what he did, why not
smash hishead against concrete? Here a little boy, playing
with a brother is now hospitalized. Who knows the damage?
Forget compassion: revenge must include hurting this guy.
He must suffer for the harm he did to make things right.
Now, late night, looking out my window, hoping for a glimpse
of a near full October moon, called a Hunter’s Moon, Blood
Moon too, my mind being what I believe a minor league Bi-
polar one, can’t stop thinking after feeling—just like it can’t stop
feeling after thinking. First thought: I’m glad this homeless man
wasn’t obviously black or Latino, especially not a dark Muslim,
in this Jewish neighborhood, caught just days after Yom Kippur,
just days before Sukkot. Awareness, understanding, compassion:
these are very scarce these days. Tell me when the local is not
global; the personal not political—we set to look where exactly.
Andrés Castro, a PEN member/volunteer, is listed in the Directory of Poets and Writers. He also keeps a personal blog, The Practicing Poet: Dialogue to Creativity, Poetry, and Liberation.