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The Cold Within 

An ancient fable. This version is by James Patrick Kenny


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 round the fire, he 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 would 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.


The last man of this forlorn group did naught except for gain,

Giving only to those who gave was how he played the game.


Their logs held tight in death's still hand was proof of human sin.


They didn't die from the cold without.


They died from the cold within.



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