Tina Klimas – Rich Man Poor Man Beggar Man – 3

 Rich Man Poor Man Beggar Man
by Tina Klimas

in a doorway
of Chicago’s Union Station—
a beating heart,
in a place of movement, of flow
through doors to journey, 
to work, to discovery, to home.
He is haggard, disheveled, tall.
An indiscriminate age.
Skin like charcoal, clothes the color of ash.
I want to think he is beautiful.
But I fear him—and try
to deny this.
A threshold
—a place of possibility,
imbued with the electric certainty
of impending decision.
Someone, somewhere, slams a door.
Someone else opens to bounty unimaginable.
Some propel themselves through 
with the power of a locomotive.
Some linger.
He is stuck. A rock 
lodged in the flow, a door stop. 
A beating heart begging 
to be unstuck—to have hunger, 
and hunger to move, slaked.
Begging for possibility.
A threshold
—a place of reckoning.
He asks for money. He asks 
for time, for food. But my money 
is for locker-ed luggage, my time 
needs to board a train. So, instead, 
I offer pleasantries—
that he does not want nor need.
And I go 
through the door. 
I could buy food and go back. 
Could I go back?
I do not.
And thus
my bleeding heart is exposed
for the coward that it is. 

Remorse flares and 
is swiftly dispatched 
by the brain 
ticking out excuses 
and justifications, as if 
possessed of robotic programming;
by the horde 
of busy people 
who do not have time for 
this level of introspection;
by a new order 
in which an open heart 
and an open mind 
are targets for destruction;
by the shame 
that, perhaps, the man himself 
may be offended 
at being the subject of indulgence, 

altruistic or artistic or otherwise.
Yet the ebb of remorse feels perilous,

catastrophic somehow, so I cling 
to it. Embrace it. Fan it into 
As a reminder of the danger
of surrendering what makes us
So that, returning to that place
of threshold— 
the action of giving 
breakfast to the one does not 
undo fault 
for not feeding the other. 
What must it be like to live

in a doorway.
Because the man has a name.


Tina Klimas enjoys her writing life and makes her home, with her husband and her dog, in Redford, MI. Her first manuscript of poetry has been searching for a publishing home. Poems from the manuscript have previously appeared in THEMA Literary Journal, Bear River Review, and The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review. She has been crafting new poems for a chapbook project in which she is exploring how it feels to have to modify and subdue while the roar of passion has to attempt to live quietly within. She is also currently at work on completing a collection of linked short stories. One of the stories was a semi-finalist in Nimrod’s 2014 Katherine Anne Porter Prize for Fiction and others have been published in The First Line, RavensPerch, and Dime Show Review. She is thrilled that her writing is out in the world and hopes, in the future, to reach more readers.