By Gregory D. Smith
Photograph by Lloyd DeGrane

Walking these crowded streets
Feeling like I’m always in court
Being judged constantly
It’s become a new sport
Mentally beaten down
Physically trampled
Kept pinned to the ground
A snail slithering around
To feel this pain
Couldn’t be grasped
My shoes you couldn’t fit
Or even want to be seen in public with
It’s amazing
To walk through society
Not a soul ever noticing
You’re just a haze
To be avoided like the plague
And to acknowledge my presence
Would mean you’re infected
Close to my shoes you would be stepping
And to think these people assume
I am a dead man walking
I laugh because in the end
Those who judge and look down
Are the ones in life
That are truly grasping
Fighting each other for a life
That’s not everlasting


Gregory D. Smith is homeless and addicted to heroin. He sleeps under a viaduct off of Lower Wacker Drive in Chicago. He is pictured above panhandling in the Loop.

Photographer Lloyd DeGrane has been documenting the opioid epidemic in Chicago for two and a half years. His photographs have been produced with support from the Social Justice News Nexus at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. Smith’s poem comes to Belt Magazine by way of DeGrane.