Life is precious, and I bear it away

by John MacBeath Watkins

The man lay on 45th Street, a score of pedestrians
bearing witness from the sidewalks
his bald head and ruddy face weathered
from too many nights sleeping rough
the army blanket around his shoulders adorned with twigs.
The medic speaks softly to him, gently, can you move your leg?
Try to move your foot.  Follow my finger with your eyes.
The shattered driver sits
not knowing how to leave after the cops are done.
A siren screams from an ambulance
the light bar's red eyes glare all around
Beware, beware
Life is precious and I bear it away
But life wasn't precious
when the pedestrian light held up an orange hand
Don't Walk
But he Did Walk
wrapped in the invisibility of the unwanted.
And now a woman gently speaks,
follow my finger with thine eyes
and the siren sings
Life is precious, and I bear it away.


  1. This happened Saturday at 45th & University. Nothing in the police blotter this morning, so I guess the man's injuries aren't life-threatening.

  2. your writing about this incident is touching. thank you for it.

  3. Thanks. I'm ambivalent about this form of storytelling. It seemed right for the subject, but it feels more like a cross between AP style and poetry than like poetry itself. I suppose, if people call free verse poetry, that's what it is -- I'm committed to a lexicographer's view of what language is -- but it feels more like a poetic form of prose.


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