"The Cold Within"

Six humans trapped by happenstance,
In black and bitter cold;
Each possessed a stick of wood,
Or so the story's told.
Their dying fire in need of logs,
The first woman held hers back;
For on the faces around the fire,
She noticed one was black.
The next man looking 'cross the way,
Saw one not 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 just 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.
And the last man of this forlorn group,
Did naught except for gain;
Giving only to those who gave,
Was how he played the game.
The logs held tight in death's stilled hands,
Was proof of human sin;
They didn't die from the cold without,
They died from the cold within...
It's giving and doing for somebody else,
On that all life's splendor depends;
And the joy of the world when you sum it all up,
Is formed in the helping of friends.
A gentle reminder that the first log,
Has to be ours.
James Patrick Kinney
Image Author Unknown
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