© 2001 by Tommi Avicolli Mecca

(Dedicated to the AIDS memorial bench which disappeared one day from its spot in front of the old AIDS Quilt office.)bench


this is a bench made of wood

wood made of trees 

trees made of earth and sun

bench that cries

bench that sings

bench that breathes with the spirit of those 

who have sat on it

leaned against it

smoked, eaten or cruised on it

bench that fears the cold

that has an empty stomach sometimes

that longs for love

bench that can’t forget the snap chatter of loud queens

the tired aching of old women

the impatience of children

vomit and spit have stained its slats

weather written the seasons on its finish

still all have been welcomed

give me your poor, your tired

your huddled masses yearning to be warm 

under a worn old blanket

bench with torch always lit

arm raised

a tireless lady’s vigil

suddenly stolen from its spot

uprooted from its earth

tossed alone into a businessman’s yard

held hostage

businessman says he’s tired 

of the homeless sleeping on it

bench made of flesh and blood

bones of those who wander the night

of those who seek a pillow 

of those who once found refuge in churches

but churches have locked their doors

god has hours now like doctors and lawyers

marble altars and gold chalices 

protected more than lives

blown through the streets like old newspapers

discarded on pavements

stepped over 

yelled at


without even a bench

to rest their heads on

such a simple concept a bench

a few boards

some nails

yet like so many other things

it’s only for those we deem worthy

originally published in Street Sheet and Philadelphia Poets, Volume 13, 2007