Loitering with a vacant eye
Along the Grecian gallery,
And brooding on my heavy ill,
I met a statue standing still.
Still in marble stone stood he,
And stedfastly he looked at me.
'Well met,' I thought the look would say.
'We both were fashioned far away;
We neither knew, when we were young,
These Londoners we live among.'

   Still he stood and eyed me hard,
An earnest and a grave regard:
'What, lad, drooping with your lot?
I too would be where I am not.
I too survey the endless line
Of men whose thoughts are not as mine.
Years, ere you stood up from rest,
On my neck the collar prest;

Years, when you lay down your ill,
I shall stand and bear it still.
Courage, lad, 'tis not for long:
Stand, quit you like stone, be strong.'
So I thought his look would say;
And light on me my trouble lay,
And I stept out in flesh and bone
Manful like the man of stone.

A.E. Housman, A Shropshire Lad
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One day, I stupidly decided to go visit my old stomping grounds in Far Rockaway, NY. I used to go to Brian Piccolo IS53, an intermediate-grade school. I knew a bunch of folks, but I had moved to upstate New York a few years previous. I happened to be down in the City, and stopped by to see what had changed in the neighborhood.

It turns out everything changed. Things got so bad that they based a crime show on Court TV in Far Rockaway called The System. While walking by a candy store I used to stop in before school, I saw an old classmate named John. He was a shy kid that played basketball with me, and he was known for sucking on his index and middle fingers of his right hand. Here he was, years later, with the same two digits in his mouth. Here he stood, loitering in front of the "Old Chinese Guy's1" candy store. I knew it was him, except his eyes were burned out from the heavy drug usage. He had no idea who I was, or how I knew his name. All he wanted to know was if I had some money I could give him. Those shiny eyes, with their artistic2 potential, were vacant, exposing the nothingness within.

I haven't been back to Far Rockaway since.

1. Politically incorrect, but that's what us kids
called it in the 1970's.
2. He could draw some great cars, he had the 'gift'.

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