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Six humans trapped by happenstance In dark 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 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 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.

The logs held tight in death’s still hands Was proof of human sin.
They didn’t die from the cold without, They died from —THE COLD WITHIN.

~James Patrick Kinney