The Mentally Ill Homeless

On benches, under bridges is where they sleep,
wearing three coats, rolled in blankets just to survive,
digging in garbage cans, going to missions or begging
for the food and drink to keep themselves alive.

To avoid any contact we cross the street,
not wanting to look but still beginning to stare.
We think, "For the grace of God go I," seeing such
misery, loss of dignity, depravity and despair.

We justify our ignorance by thinking they choose
this life, they don't want to work, they want to be free--
not thinking they were once veterans, professionals
with pride once very similar to you and me.

Their lives took a turn for the worse as the demons
of their minds decided to come to the surface.
They lost their families, their positions, all worldly
possessions; their life seemed to become superfluous.

Self-medicating with alcohol and drugs to rid their
minds of the depression and voices they hear every day,
But instead of giving the help that they need so desperately
we just criticize; we can't even find a kind word to say.

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