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Death In The Alleyway


Kathy Dingus




To Ralph...May he be warm with a cup of coffee in his hand...


Briskly I walked to my building
Turning slightly ‘gainst wind and snow
Opened my door gratefully sliding inside
Made fresh coffee and turned to go

Outside to see a tiny little man
This was my morning rite
To visit him in the alley way
To see how he’d passed the night.

It was in mid December,
Snow had begun to fall
He told me that he’d be just fine,
In the alley between the walls.

With coffee in my Styrofoam cup
I bent over his small frame
Touched him on the shoulder
“Wake up, its morning time again!”

When I touched him then I noticed
I bent over him and cried
For overnight and all alone
My friend Ralph had died.

He was lying there so peaceful
I could imagine him just asleep
He had a coat and hat on
Mismatched shoes were on his feet.

The coffee in my hand grew cold
And was still in my hand
When the policeman came to ask me
“Ma’am, did you find this man?”

“Yes, sir, I did find him
And he was my friend.
I just know his first name
Ralph, a he’s a Vietnam Veteran.”

They said they’d contact his family
I didn’t know he had one
They told me he was decorated
No battle did he shun.

Now I have often wondered
About my friend who died
Why was he living on the streets
And from his family, hide?

I’ll never know the answers
I’ll never know his pain
I just wish one more time I could
Take him coffee once again.

Author's Comments:
"To the homeless, and may God Bless them, and may someone take them a cup of coffee for Ralph."