Their dying fire in need of logs,
The first woman held hers back,
For on the faces ‘round the fire,
She noticed that one was Black.
The next man looking ‘cross the way
Saw one not of his church,
And couldn’t bring himself to give
The fire his stick of birch.
The third one sat in tattered clothes,
He gave his coat a hitch,
Why should his log be put to use
To warm the idle rich?
The rich man just sat back and thought
Of wealth he had in store,
And how to keep what he had earned
From the lazy, shiftless poor.
The black man’s face bespoke revenge
As the fire passed from sight,
For all he saw in his stick of wood
Was a chance to spite the white.
And the last man of this forlorn group,
Did naught except for gain,
Giving to those who gave
Was how he played the game.
The logs held tight in death’s still hands
Was proof of human sin.
They didn’t die from the cold without,
They died from the cold within.
James Patrick Kinney