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That Thousand Yard Stare


That Thousand Yard Stare

Tired eyes, aching feet,

he moved like a man

who spent his years on the street,

long, dirty and straggly hair

was beginning to recede,

lost of hope was clear

and survival was a need,

starvation was there,

and hunger became a greed,

his face would rarely break

from an unsettling glare,

a look all the more unnerving

because he would rarely blink,

so you’d think

someone could care,

he sells out dated newspapers

to help make a living,

you walk away like he’s contagious,

as he preaches God’s words

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from a bible with missing pages,

but in your eyes

he resembles nothing more sinister,

and some call him the homeless street minister,

in cardboard boxes he would sleep,

his dark eyes, his voice deep,

wasting your time,

begging for a dime,

his body moved forward, but slow,

blisters and bruises that didn’t show,

riddled with cancer,

but he would never know,

and when he gets near,

you wouldn’t care,

you could hear that low rumble to his voice,

and then you give him that thousand yard stare,

as if the path he chose with his choice.

© 2011 Frank Atanacio


Frank Atanacio (author) from Shelton on March 22, 2018:

Thank you Cat for reading my Thousand Yard Stare....

Catherine Tally from Los Angeles on July 29, 2016:

Hi Frank! This is a very moving poem- an everyday tragedy that you've expressed so well. We have all been guilty of either staring or averting our eyes when instead we should be less judgmental and realize that our own circumstances could quickly change. We are conditioned, however, to sidestep those things which make us uncomfortable. My prayers go out each night to those in such despair that they can find the light of hope in the darkness. Cat:)

Frank Atanacio (author) from Shelton on July 29, 2016:

thank you so much Shyron.. for checking out this older post

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on July 29, 2016:


One can feel the loss of hope,

Where they just want to lay down and die

This made me sad

It made me cry

And I thought of the words

"There but for the grace of God, goes I"



You Frank are a wonderful poet who can make us feel the loss of hope where one just wants to lay down and die.

Blessings my dear friend

Frank Atanacio (author) from Shelton on July 29, 2016:

thank you so much pegcole

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on July 17, 2014:

Frank, you continually amaze me with your versatility and depth of expression. This one truly speaks volumes about us and our society.

Frank Atanacio (author) from Shelton on July 17, 2014:

thank you MsDora for checking out my thousand yard stare

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on July 17, 2014:

A vivid picture of negligence in our society. Very well done, Frank. All powerful lines, the last two effectively incriminating.

Frank Atanacio (author) from Shelton on July 17, 2014:

thanks so much Phdast7 :)

Theresa Ast from Atlanta, Georgia on June 27, 2013:

Good afternoon Frank. Another well-written poem calling us to think about more than ourselves and to honestly consider what is and isn't a choice in the peoples' lives we know about. Thank you.

Frank Atanacio (author) from Shelton on June 08, 2013:

same here justateacher :)

LaDena Campbell from Somewhere Over The Rainbow - Near Oz... on June 08, 2013:

Every time I see a homeless person, I want to stop and ask him or her about their story...sometimes I stop and talk to them, sometimes I walk on by because of where I am or the situation makes me nervous...but I always wonder...

Frank Atanacio (author) from Shelton on June 08, 2013:

thanks for visiting this again Aydrey and thank you Susan bless you both

Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on June 07, 2013:

I have so much reading to catch up with and thought I'd start here. Such a sad poem.

Up awesome and sharing.

Audrey Howitt from California on June 07, 2013:

You paint such a vivid picture here Frank--and it just pulls at the heart strings

Frank Atanacio (author) from Shelton on June 07, 2013:

thank you duffsmom :)

P. Thorpe Christiansen from Pacific Northwest, USA on June 07, 2013:

Absolutely brilliant. I am an ardent fan. Well done Frank!

Frank Atanacio (author) from Shelton on June 07, 2013:

thank you Senoritaa :)

Rinita Sen on May 24, 2013:

They are there, everywhere, we know they may have a different story, some guilty of choosing the path, but most of them not. Yet we seemingly better off people hold them under the same stare. Gets you thinking, done it wonderfully Frank!

Frank Atanacio (author) from Shelton on May 23, 2013:

thank you Mr Moore :)

Vincent Moore on November 17, 2012:

Frank this is another poignant piece. I am familiar with the homelesee and see them all around me when I walk in my areas of my city. I am saddened by the thousands of stares they receive as if they are human debris. So many people walk by with their noses in the air, walking as fast as they can to avoid being asked for a helping hand out.

They would rather rush by quickly to avoid the stench they see through their thousand yard stare, how pitiful indeed. We must all remember many of us are a pay cheque away from living in the streets. I pray that the homeless will diminish in numbers and work be given to them so they can get back on their feet in life and regain their dignity and pride.

Frank Atanacio (author) from Shelton on November 17, 2012:

thanks caroline :)

Caroline Marie on October 20, 2012:

Frank this was very clever, sad and beautiful Thank you for sharing. :)

Frank Atanacio (author) from Shelton on October 20, 2012:

thanks so much cyndi10 you're too kind and sweet bless you :)

Cynthia B Turner from Georgia on September 20, 2012:

You rock! The talent just oozes out of you. Loved this commentary about the human condition. There are so many stories and often so little compassion. Voted up.

Frank Atanacio (author) from Shelton on September 20, 2012:

thanks mismazda for checking out my stare :)

mismazda from a southern georgia peach on August 24, 2012:

O my what a shame..but indeed true..we never know someone's story, but yet we judge them with our stares...good work..

Frank Atanacio (author) from Shelton on August 23, 2012:

yeah, we do right? Bless you Audrey

Audrey Howitt from California on August 23, 2012:

Nicely done Frank! We do tend to avoid the nameless and faceless people of God

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