Down and Out

DAY 144_WB_-14BWDay 144 (May 24, 2014) – Washington, DC

It’s hard to miss the faces of poverty and homelessness even when there are shiny new things all around you. I’m in Colombia Heights in Washington DC. It’s a “new” old neighborhood that looks very different. There are condos and luxury apartments everywhere you turn.  I’m drawn to this particular spot by a group of Black Israelites with a megaphone preaching to anyone who will stop an listen. While most of their message is lost to me (a little ignorant at times with racial overtones), they talk about the condition of black people in the once “Chocolate City”. They talk about poverty and the plight of the poor. They comment on the police, crime and the prison system. I listen as I try to find my image for the day. I listen to their words and look all around me. I see ugliness despite the beauty. I hear a cop’s siren blaring in the distance followed by streaks of blue and red whizzing by. Most likely heading to another crime scene always resulting in the loss of life (death or jail). I notice a few people sitting on a bench. One woman disheveled and moving frantictly. She empties her purse and then places all the contents back in. Repeat. Repeat. She may have some sort of mental issue.  Then there is a guy with his head in his hands bent over. I can’t tell if he is crying or sleeping or what. He doesn’t look good.  I can continue to pan the crowd. Two guys walk down the street with sunglasses and fresh tans enjoying a Saturday early evening stroll. They are oblivious to things around them.  A young Latino couple rush by towards the metro stop, probably trying to get home…or to work. As I continue to pan the crowd, I spot my image. A man, probably homeless, pulls on a worn cigarette. The spoke billows around him placing in a thin haze most likely symbolic of this time in his life. His look is unfocused and solemn. He thinks with each pull and I imagine his thoughts.

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