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That Thousand Yard Stare

Updated on January 29, 2017

That Thousand Yard Stare

Tired eyes, aching feet,

he moved like a man

who spent his years on the street,

long, dirty and straggly hair

was beginning to recede,

lost of hope was clear

and survival was a need,

starvation was there,

and hunger became a greed,

his face would rarely break

from an unsettling glare,

a look all the more unnerving

because he would rarely blink,

so you’d think

someone could care,

he sells out dated newspapers

to help make a living,

you walk away like he’s contagious,

as he preaches God’s words

from a bible with missing pages,

but in your eyes

he resembles nothing more sinister,

and some call him the homeless street minister,

in cardboard boxes he would sleep,

his dark eyes, his voice deep,

wasting your time,

begging for a dime,

his body moved forward, but slow,

blisters and bruises that didn’t show,

riddled with cancer,

but he would never know,

and when he gets near,

you wouldn’t care,

you could hear that low rumble to his voice,

and then you give him that thousand yard stare,

as if the path he chose with his choice.

© 2011 Frank Atanacio

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    • Frank Atanacio profile image
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      Frank Atanacio 14 months ago from Shelton

      thank you Cat for reading my thousand yard stare

    • cat on a soapbox profile image

      Catherine Tally 14 months ago from Los Angeles

      Hi Frank! This is a very moving poem- an everyday tragedy that you've expressed so well. We have all been guilty of either staring or averting our eyes when instead we should be less judgmental and realize that our own circumstances could quickly change. We are conditioned, however, to sidestep those things which make us uncomfortable. My prayers go out each night to those in such despair that they can find the light of hope in the darkness. Cat:)

    • Frank Atanacio profile image
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      Frank Atanacio 14 months ago from Shelton

      thank you so much Shyron.. for checking out this older post

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 14 months ago from Texas

      Frank,

      One can feel the loss of hope,

      Where they just want to lay down and die

      This made me sad

      It made me cry

      And I thought of the words

      "There but for the grace of God, goes I"

      *

      *

      You Frank are a wonderful poet who can make us feel the loss of hope where one just wants to lay down and die.

      Blessings my dear friend

    • Frank Atanacio profile image
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      Frank Atanacio 14 months ago from Shelton

      thank you so much pegcole

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Frank, you continually amaze me with your versatility and depth of expression. This one truly speaks volumes about us and our society.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image
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      Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton

      thank you MsDora for checking out my thousand yard stare

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      A vivid picture of negligence in our society. Very well done, Frank. All powerful lines, the last two effectively incriminating.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image
      Author

      Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton

      thanks so much Phdast7 :)

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Good afternoon Frank. Another well-written poem calling us to think about more than ourselves and to honestly consider what is and isn't a choice in the peoples' lives we know about. Thank you.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image
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      Frank Atanacio 4 years ago from Shelton

      same here justateacher :)

    • justateacher profile image

      LaDena Campbell 4 years ago from Somewhere Over The Rainbow - Near Oz...

      Every time I see a homeless person, I want to stop and ask him or her about their story...sometimes I stop and talk to them, sometimes I walk on by because of where I am or the situation makes me nervous...but I always wonder...

    • Frank Atanacio profile image
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      Frank Atanacio 4 years ago from Shelton

      thanks for visiting this again Aydrey and thank you Susan bless you both

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I have so much reading to catch up with and thought I'd start here. Such a sad poem.

      Up awesome and sharing.

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 4 years ago from California

      You paint such a vivid picture here Frank--and it just pulls at the heart strings

    • Frank Atanacio profile image
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      Frank Atanacio 4 years ago from Shelton

      thank you duffsmom :)

    • duffsmom profile image

      P. Thorpe Christiansen 4 years ago from Pacific Northwest, USA

      Absolutely brilliant. I am an ardent fan. Well done Frank!

    • Frank Atanacio profile image
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      Frank Atanacio 4 years ago from Shelton

      thank you Senoritaa :)

    • Senoritaa profile image

      Senoritaa 4 years ago

      They are there, everywhere, we know they may have a different story, some guilty of choosing the path, but most of them not. Yet we seemingly better off people hold them under the same stare. Gets you thinking, done it wonderfully Frank!

    • Frank Atanacio profile image
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      Frank Atanacio 4 years ago from Shelton

      thank you Mr Moore :)

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      Vincent Moore 4 years ago

      Frank this is another poignant piece. I am familiar with the homelesee and see them all around me when I walk in my areas of my city. I am saddened by the thousands of stares they receive as if they are human debris. So many people walk by with their noses in the air, walking as fast as they can to avoid being asked for a helping hand out.

      They would rather rush by quickly to avoid the stench they see through their thousand yard stare, how pitiful indeed. We must all remember many of us are a pay cheque away from living in the streets. I pray that the homeless will diminish in numbers and work be given to them so they can get back on their feet in life and regain their dignity and pride.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image
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      Frank Atanacio 4 years ago from Shelton

      thanks caroline :)

    • carolinemd21 profile image

      Caroline Marie 5 years ago from Close to Heaven

      Frank this was very clever, sad and beautiful Thank you for sharing. :)

    • Frank Atanacio profile image
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      Frank Atanacio 5 years ago from Shelton

      thanks so much cyndi10 you're too kind and sweet bless you :)

    • Cyndi10 profile image

      Cynthia B Turner 5 years ago from Georgia

      You rock! The talent just oozes out of you. Loved this commentary about the human condition. There are so many stories and often so little compassion. Voted up.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image
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      Frank Atanacio 5 years ago from Shelton

      thanks mismazda for checking out my stare :)

    • mismazda profile image

      mismazda 5 years ago from a southern georgia peach

      O my what a shame..but indeed true..we never know someone's story, but yet we judge them with our stares...good work..

    • Frank Atanacio profile image
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      Frank Atanacio 5 years ago from Shelton

      yeah, we do right? Bless you Audrey

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 5 years ago from California

      Nicely done Frank! We do tend to avoid the nameless and faceless people of God