My weekly newsletter containing this weeks radio commentaries on “Character Counts” by Michael Josephson had a commentary on racism and hate, which contained a verse by James Patrick Kinney called “The Cold Within”. I’d never seen the verse before, but after hearing it, I decided I liked it. (It’s not free verse, so that might have helped.)
Six humans trapped by happenstance,
In black and bitter cold.
Each one possessed a stick of wood,
Or so the story`s told.
Their dying fire in need of logs,
The first woman held hers back,
For on the faces around the fire,
She noticed one was black.
The next man looking `cross the way
Saw one not of his church,
And couldn`t bring himself to give
The fire his stick of birch.
The third one sat in tattered clothes;
He gave his coat a hitch.
Why should his log be put to use
To warm the idle rich?
The rich man just sat back and thought
Of the wealth he had in store,
And how to keep what he had earned
From the lazy, shiftless poor.
The black man`s face bespoke revenge
As the fire passed from his sight,
For all he saw in his stick of wood
Was a chance to spite the white.
And the last man of this forlorn group.
Did naught, except for gain.
Giving only to those who gave,
Was how he played the game.
The logs held tight in death`s still hands
Was proof of human sin.
They didn`t die from the cold without.
They died from the cold within.