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Downtown Mobile Medical Clinic

Al Calling


Ashland, OH1995



“Steve? It’s Alan. I need to talk.”

So I listened while you informed me

Of the disturbance of your mind,

And the fear holding you hostage

To threats of exposure and loss,

Your defenses on highest alert.


Of course I knew you were down,

But who wouldn’t be, in your shoes?

Suggestions of covert motives,

Tensions in your adopted family

That threatened its very fiber,

And helplessness gripping your soul.


I knew from your many phone calls

That you were being drawn back

To your distant and pain-filled past,

Haunted like a long-tortured victim

By ghosts adorned in weighted

Relationship, with destructive intent.


The move seemed sound and smart.

Everybody you knew thought so:

Taking good care of your family,

Making some of the wrongs right,

Relieving some of the misery,

Finding a chance to begin again.


I remember the phone call in which

You told me of your idealized plan;

And I see so clearly in retrospect

The deep-seated desolation

Encoded in your description, yet

Leaking from your despairing gaze.


I don’t know how I could overlook

The silent torment in my friend’s eyes,

Or how I could continue on my way,

Leaving you to traverse your pain alone.

Why did I think your leaving town

Would change more than the scenery?


“Steve? This is Sharon. It’s about Al.”

I didn’t need to ask…I knew. I knew…

That I and everyone else you knew

Had done nothing to help you know

That redemption’s more powerful

Than any mountain of sorrow or error.


Life together with others calls for

Hearing between the measured lines

Of carefully constructed details.

It demands penetrating gaze through

The shuttered windows of another’s soul

Hiding the real reason for calling…out.


I took your call, but didn’t hear it.

May that fact compel me always to heed

The spirit of each person I encounter,

So that I may for someone become

Redemption’s way past life’s trouble,

Like that ‘neath which you laid your life.