The Cold Within by James Patrick Kinney

Six humans trapped by happenstance
In bleak and bitter cold,
Each one possessed a stick of wood
Or so the story’s told.

Their dying fire in need of logs
The first man held his back,
For of the faces around the fire
He noticed one was black.

The next man looking across the way
Saw not one 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 sat back and thought
Of the 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 his sight.
For all he saw in his stick of wood
Was a chance to spite the white.

The last man of this forlorn group
Did nought except for gain.
Giving only to those who gave
Was how he played the game.

Their logs held tight in death’s still hands
Was proof of human sin.
They didn’t die from cold without
They died from the cold within.

~James Patrick Kinney~

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