I heard a knock upon my door And opened it to see All the poor around the nation Looking back at me In ragged clothes and worn-out shoe With families to feed They held their hands out, hopefully, Could I address their need? “Too many,” I said, overwhelmed, And shut the door instead I’m just one man, how can I help? “There’s a way,” a small voice said. A MOMENT passed before I heard Yet another knock, All the hungry, ’round the world Were out there, on my block Their bellies round and bloated The eyes as blank as chalk They looked at me as if to speak But fell, too weak to talk. I shut the door in anguish, “There’s too many to be fed! “For I am just one person!” “There’s a way,” the small voice said. WHO WAS this voice, I wondered? When I heard a clanging sound Outside my window, thousands more, Yet all were wheelchair bound Victims of our roadways Some were only kids, They whispered, “Can you help us?” I shut the door and hid. “There must be a mistake!” I cried, “These people are misled, “I have no way to help them!” “You do,” this small voice said. AND THEN A muffled rumbling Drew me out to see A massive wash of immigrants Upon my property Weary, hungry, some alone All seemed rather scared “What have I to do with them?” “A lot,” the voice declared THIS WAS FOLLOWED by the sound Of soldiers in a fight Foreign armies, tanks and guns Their smoke turned day to night “Why draw me to these battles? “I’m not to them a threat!” And then I heard that voice again: “You affect them yet.” AND THEN a crash and shattered glass My windows all were torched, I looked in horror witnessing A crime wave on my porch Random violence, home attacks Thieves in callous lootings Stabbings, punches, subway shoves An endless string of shootings “Leave!” I shouted, “Go away! “Where are the police?” I slammed the door, the voice again said, “You can make it cease.” AND AS I pondered what this meant, The open door revealed A gathering that shook my soul A vision quite surreal Pregnant women, in distress Abused, raped or unloved, And the souls of babies yet unborn Hovering above. “How will you to affect our fates? How will we move ahead?” “You’re asking me?” I gasped aloud. “They are,” the small voice said. AND SO IT went for all the day, The knocking never ending Every time a different cause Too large for comprehending, Yet always followed by a voice, Its tone as calm as spring Saying I had power Over every single thing. “SHOW YOURSELF!” I hollered now “And end this silly game! “Saying I can change the world “Is just short of insane.” I waited then, for some reply, But quiet fell once more Finally, a faint and weakened Knock came on my door. I opened it to see a child Bending at the knee I gasped for breath, rubbed my eyes For this child looked like me. HIS FACE was hung in sadness, He stood there all alone, His eyes revealed a hopelessness, That chilled me to my bone. I wanted to embrace him, but He turned and walked away. “You’ve left your child no future,” I heard that small voice say. “The power to create a change “Was something you ignored, “Terror, sickness, climate woes, “You left outside your door “You told yourself one person, “Cannot change the world’s demise, “The price tag of your apathy “Lies in your children’s eyes.” NOW MY HEART was pounding, My anger boiled and burned “Tell me, then!” I hollered “What fact should I have learned? “Tell me how that I can save “These lives from their despair “Tell me where this magic cure “Lies hidden in the air “Tell me how a factory man, “A farmer pulling wheat, “Can make a dent in problems “Meant for armies or Wall Street “Tell me how a simple soul “Can change the world ahead.” And here it came, a single word: “Vote,” the small voice said.
NOTE: Mitch Albom wrote a version of this poem in 1995, modified it for the 2008 elections, and changed it again for 2022.
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