Poetics: Listen to the Mockingbird – Grandstand Joe


Grandstand Joe sits atop the stairs

Observes all that lies below him.

The early morning sun pokes its way towards him

He winces as he stares east

Grateful he has survived another night.

He watches the walkers and joggers move past him

Some glance up, most ignore him

He doesn’t care, he’s alive, he has routines.

Gathering his possessions

He’s off to the servo

They let him use the toilets there.

He checks the bins on the way

There’s good pickings outside the chicken shop.

He sits at the bus stop

Not wanting to go anywhere

But to watch the world go by.

There’s a crust in his bag from yesterday,

He chews on it as the workers all depart.

His speech is stilted as he rarely speaks

The lady at the op shop knows him, knows his size

Knows he’ll be in come the first winter breeze.

She knows only his first name

Not his story or where he’s from

He’s just a man, down on his luck.

‘Who am I to judge,’ she thinks.

‘There but for the grace of God go I.’


Written for: http://dversepoets.com/2016/02/23/poetics-listen-to-the-mockingbird/

This entry was posted in Poetry, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

39 Responses to Poetics: Listen to the Mockingbird – Grandstand Joe

  1. whimsygizmo says:

    Ohhhhh. I want to buy Joe a cup of coffee, and find out more about him.
    I love this.

  2. Sanaa Rizvi says:

    This is beautiful 🙂 I m glad that his story inspired you to pen it down.

    Lots of love,

  3. So wonderful that a real person inspired this poem. Very nice!

  4. “There but for the grace of God . . .” It applies to a lot of us.

  5. Mandy says:

    I live in an area with one of the largest homeless populations in the country and have a special affinity for their plight. Seeing them up close, which I have, and you have on your morning outings, their humanness is visceral; they are no different from us in most cases, except bad luck. Lovely tribute to Joe, Michael.

  6. kelly says:

    Oh, this tugged at my heart… Spending time with my very old friend who has no one else to help care for her has made me see how many are out there that could fit into the category of “there but for the grace of God”…. You wrote this with heart and it shows.

  7. Wonderful story of Grandstand Joe–and sadly, there are so many near us. In Reno, I live near the Truckee river. Not far away, there’s an overpass, under which you will see, high about the river-walk, set-ups such as Joe’s. It breaks my heart, especially when the weather is below freezing.

  8. I used to work with homeless men. As you say all had a story. And as you have done, all deserved to be treated with dignity and respect. Several became surrogate grandfathers. They had their faults and flaws — humans too — but deserved to be dealt with fairly and kindness.
    Your post puts a story to a name. That’s what is needed. If the increasing number of homeless are nameless, they are faceless, they are invisible. Then everyone can walk by and not care. We should care!

  9. This is such a story that could fit too many. Yet, we see them and hopefully greet them. I like how you describe him from the pint of simple routines, like an endless story repeating….

  10. Kathy Reed says:

    “His speech is stilted as he rarely speaks….” living alone with almost no one to talk to…
    watching the world go by. In a way, he lives richly.

  11. Misky says:

    I love that he sits at the bus stop to watch the world go by. That’s marvellous.

  12. ShirleyB says:

    I always think a good poem is one you won’t forget, and i won’t forget Grandstand Joe (someone’s grand-dad Joe?). technically flows well with good meter and well-placed occasional internal rhyme. Enjoyed it.

  13. Just this morning that phrase, “There but for the grace of God go I.” Then here I find it at the end of this excellent portrait of a thankful man down on his luck. Peace, Linda

  14. Raivenne says:

    it was a Grandstand Jane for me. When our local diner that was her morning haunt was forced to close, the family that owned it made arrangements with another diner a few blocks away. I went out of my way to go by that diner some mornings to check on her. She often quoted “but for the grace of God go I” herself.

    All have a story and you told this one well.

  15. Moved by your depiction. I know a “Joe” as well!

  16. lillian says:

    Sadly we all know this man — he is on our streets. Very very well done.

  17. Bekkie says:

    So many people like this in the Bay Area I often wonder about their stories. Well told!

  18. A panhandler tonight in Winn
    Dixie.. tattered clothes. a place
    out of the cold he
    middle class
    preppies get
    scared.. call the
    police.. three cops
    to tale panhandler
    never wanna
    see you
    in here
    Jesus laughs
    on his way out…
    and gives the Panhandler
    another ride to heaven FREE..:)

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