homeless and decrepit and soiled, he
appeared in the icu one day,
febrile and delirious
and, breathing hard,
collapsed –

making room 110 his home for the next month

a septic body in a toxic life
confined within sterile walls

the day i met him, he died
after hours of kussmauling
eyes glued shut but
even then, clearly in unconscious agony

and on his way out
on a squeaky stretcher under a tarp
there was a moment of silence

for an elderly homeless man,
name unknown,
encoded in the system as a mr henry alaska
age presumed 70s
no contact information

and there i stood
screaming silently in my head
“you mattered, you mattered, you mattered”
while his temporary home was sprayed,
mopped, and swept clean for its next inhabitant.