A rhyming storoem about two boys' friendship long ago.
|John was a down-home southern boy, born and raised.
In the sixth grade, he was popular at school.
By his family John was loved, often praised.
John was quite well-pleased with his life, as a rule.
At mid-year a rather strange boy joined John’s class.
Joe had just moved from up north to their small town.
His slicked-back hair, strange Yankee accent were crass
to the others. Their rudeness caused John to frown.
He befriended Joe, included him in play
at recess and after school, ate lunch and walked
home, worked on homework together every day.
For many an hour the two boys laughed and talked.
Joe had a tough life, ashamed of his father
for being a drunk. His family would fight
since Father about paying bills didn’t bother.
John knew, compared to Joe’s, his life was all right.
On summer break John gifted Joe with a baseball,
the only birthday gift Joe received that day.
That month Joe’s family had a public brawl.
They moved to the poorest part of town right away.
The two boys’ new friendship was torn asunder.
Four years passed by with no news of the other.
Now in his mid-teens, John would sometimes wonder
if he and Joe might again get together.
Then there came one night in a church parking lot
as John headed for a teen dance, he was met
by a small group of cross-town toughs who were not
there to dance. Their close approach caused John to fret.
The leader wore a leather jacket, jet black
with a turned-up collar; a lit cigarette
hung from his lip. With a look toward the pack,
the leader seized John’s shirt and then snarled a threat.
From the shadows at the back of the pack came
a voice, “Let go of him. He’s a friend of mine.”
As the pack melted away, the streetlight did frame
the face of Joe, whose delight a smile did define.
The young friends shook hands and talked for a brief while.
Then they parted; their paths would cross nevermore.
Sixty years later, thoughts of Joe brought a smile.
John hoped Joe’s life had known happiness galore.
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