“Knoxville Soup Kitchen” by Carol Ann Borges


Wobbling in the rain, drunk
or maybe just in pain, thrusting her
three-legged metal cane before her,
she struggled up the concrete bridge-ramp
arching beside the Rescue Mission.

Almost stopped the car to give her a ride,
wanted to ask (just so I would know)
what could have brought her down
that low? Demon alcohol, crack pipe, or
just plain sorrow beyond bearing? Wanted to say-
Hey, sister! What made your life so hard?
But then, thoughts of how she might
smell, of unforeseen obligations,
pushed my foot against the accelerator.

Afterwards, everywhere I looked
white haired bag-ladies, kids on smack
floating like pale water-lilies up sullen streets—
a sign across from Kroger’s,
warning of domestic violence. A number to call.
Suddenly I realized we’re all afflicted
in some way, struggling up the ramp of life,
passing ourselves without ever stopping.



Carol Ann Borges is the author of Disciplining the Devil’s County, published by Alice James Books. She was raised aboard a schooner on the Mississippi River in the 1950’s and learned the art of storytelling from the fishermen and river folk she met along the way. Also from the river itself—the stories it whispered and the lessons it taught. Carole’s poems have appeared in a number of literary journals including Poetry, Kalliope, Bardsong, and Soundings East. Her non-fiction work can be found in The Enlightener Newspaper, Knox Voice, and  Eva Magazine. She lives in Knoxville, TN. and spends most of her time writing or playing in the garden with her white cat.