The Mexican boy and the battle of the bottle-caps–a poem

There were 12 other students

that first time in Mexico,

and one of them was a young man,

who defied his lack of depth

when he asked

“How come the kids back in the states

have everything and seem so dissatisfied with it,

while the kids here have nothing

and are always laughing?”

and even if I could have

offered an answer,

I surely didn’t have the time.

We were in a church square,

and nearby were giggling boys

playing king of the mountain

on a wide-stone wall.


I rolled solo my second time down,

and so I was, as I

walked back to my apartment

on the city’s south side,

when I saw

the boy outside the bodega

with the bottlecaps,

hundreds of them,

lined like armies in battle

near the trunk of a tree

and where the curb meets the street.

I wish I’d looked around to see

just how big of a bag it would take

to hold them all.


And this kid was lost in the world.

Nothing existed but

the battle of the bottlecaps.

I wanted to take a picture,

but knew I wouldn’t want

a strange man taking a picture of my son,

so I didn’t.


These days I find myself with

two boys of my own,

and we give them just about everything;

sometimes it doesn’t seem enough,

and I wish I had a picture of

that boy with those bottle-caps

to let them know

the real joy lies within.


They say a picture is worth

a thousand words;

hopefully this

got some of those back.


8 Replies to “The Mexican boy and the battle of the bottle-caps–a poem”

    1. It’s so true. It’s nothing but a conscious choice. Working with the public, I see so many people who simply choose to live and think negatively every day. If you give them a reason to be positive, that just pisses them off more. Sad. I would be sick if I lived that way. I know you know exactly what I mean. Be well, my brother, and keep putting it on that page.

  1. Loved this, Paul. I saw this every day throughout my career. . .kids who had everything and kids who wished just to have something. In our modern world of technology, kids (and adults) are too quickly immersed into their gadgets. I wish more kids today would be creative enough to play army with bottlecaps!!

  2. Very Good Paul. I spoil all my kids. Maybe because I want them to have what I didn’t growing up, but in retrospect, I wasn’t in need growing up either. Have we instilled this expectation (entitlement) in our children because we just wanted them to have it better than we did?

    1. That’s a great question, Tony. Not only do I spoil my kids, but I’ve always done so proudly. Now, I’m trying to rein it in a bit, and they don’t like that, the reining in; they don’t like it one bit. Much love, my brother. Thanks for reading an weighing in.

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