On edge of arid desert set
a trailer aged in rust
with tires flattened long ago
and covered thick with dust.
A friend I'd known for many years
had lived alone inside -
and if his lamp was burning, then
I knew he hadn't died.
The lamp seemed always to be lit
but never did complain.
Then sure enough, I saw him there
through dirty window pane.
The Great Depression hurt him so.
I saw it in that place.
I saw it in his lonely words.
I saw it in his face.
The mental stress that he went through
was far too much to bear -
and would have been for anyone
if they were sitting there.
But they were not. Just he alone
survived his great ordeal.
And his reward? An empty can,
a cold and meager meal.
The old man couldn't hear too good.
The years had quickly passed -
so catching his attention, I
tapped loudly on the glass.
It seemed to take forever, but
he made it to the door.
Black cobwebs hung from corners and -
newspapers hid the floor.
He greeted me with friendly eyes,
skin wrinkled deep from sun.
He made me feel welcome, though
his work was never done.
I visited for quite awhile
as he kept at his rhymes.
He changed his thoughts, his lines, his words
at least a thousand times.
I said, "It must be good enough."
Replied he, "Not at all.
It doesn't capture God's great love.
This needs an overhaul.
For God is love and God is grace
in absolute perfection -
so how can I write something less
to add to this collection?
"This poetry I write for God
must always be perfected -
or basket, full of waste, is filled
with poems I've rejected."
I fell asleep while sitting there.
I woke at 3 AM
and heard him mumble something like,
"...to change the hearts of them."
Observed, I did, his wise old ways.
I'd learned all that I could -
but never measured up to him -
my writing, not as good.
I saw his great intensity.
I stayed with him for days.
I watched his sacrificial work
I saw his humble ways.
He strove to write in perfect words,
expressing his rare love
for all of those who'd done him harm
from politics above.
Forgiving them of evil deeds
had given him such peace -
that each and ev'ry word he wrote
became a masterpiece.
Though sometimes folks still speak of him,
he never set his goals -
to elevate his unknown name -
but rather save the souls -
through writings that should touch the hearts
of other eager men -
who draw attention to themselves
through selfish, prideful sin.
I once decided to return -
to visit one last time.
The old and lonely poet, though,
had written his last rhyme.
The years have passed. Such great respect
I had for that old man.
Could I improve my poetry
for God? He proved I can!
This poem won first place for the December 2015 poetry contest