Frank Maguire
Richard Cory
By Frank Maguire
May 28, 2010

"And Richard Cory, one calm summer night
Went home and put a bullet through his head."

Richard Cory, Edward Arlington Robinson (1919)

Back in the late '60s I was playing piano at a jazz club in Massachusetts. It was a nice spot, with a regular clientele. There was a guy who came in occasionally, always sitting at the bar by himself. He was well dressed and pleasant...a business type. He didn't drink to excess.

One night, when the club was ready to close, the fellow said to me "Frankie, I've got a great record collection of jazz standards. If you got the time, come on over to the house for coffee. I'd like you to hear some."

I didn't know the guy well and didn't think that we would have a whole lot in common, so I made up an excuse as to why I couldn't accept his offer. He just responded, quietly, "That's o.k. Maybe some other time." And he walked away.

The following night when I arrived at work, Jerry the bartender said "Hey Frankie! Remember that guy who sits at the bar by himself all the time. He was here last were talking to him?" I said, "Yeh! He asked me to go over to his house and listen to some old jazz records."

"It's a shame," Jerry said. "The guy shot himself in the head last night. He's dead."

Years later, I read Edward Arlington Robinson's plaintive poem, "Richard Cory." And I remembered the guy at the club. And there came memories of other times I failed to respond with caritas to persons whose mien clearly indicated hopelessness, fear and loneliness — recurring thoughts that I would likely never again have the opportunity to exhibit the love of the Lord to that person.

A few more years passed. One day my daughter Mary Jo told me that she had gone with a friend to a meeting of recovering drug addicts. She told me that to her surprise the young woman who was the moderator was a former high school classmate. I recognized the name and envisioned her face.

Mary Jo said that this woman didn't see her in the audience. She addressed those in attendance. "Dad," Mary Jo said, "she talked about the terrible times she had as a young person, throughout high school and later. How she became involved with the drug culture. And how she had escaped."

Then, said Mary Jo, "She said that if it hadn't been for one man who treated her decently and befriended her, she might not have made it."

My daughter paused, momentarily. "Dad...that man was you." Both my daughter and I cried. And I said "Thank you my loving Lord and Savior for the gift of pain ...for giving me a heart that suffers with those who are in need."

Rachel Khoury

Frank Maguire (c) 2-09-96

When Rachel Khoury walked the mall,
No look nor single eye appraised her.
She'd learned, between attention and invisibility
Invisible was safer.

No longer was the hurt acute.
She'd knit her secret, silent world around her;
Enwrapped within her lonely heart,
No one had found her.

If one had glanced, each would have found
A heart far softer than the World's within her:
A heart that would enliven clouded eyes,
"If only she were...thinner."

Wherever Rachel Khoury turned,
N'er did an eye confirm her.
"You are not are not can not, will not, never.
"You've value, were you...firmer

She seldom laughed, and never cried,
But dreamed some dream would claim her;
The World cared not her heart had fled,
Nor cared enough to blame her.

God knows, Rachel Khoury tried:
With packaged heart "For Giving."
But package failed, and lonely heart
Abandoned living.

Why do we starve the hungry hearts —
Sweet hearts, in silence pleading.
Are we but fruitless shells? Too dead to feed
That heart who's needing?

© Frank Maguire


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

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Frank Maguire

Frank Maguire was born in Dorchester, MA, 1938, attended schools in Massachusetts, California, and Arizona, where he completed degrees in music and English writing/Journalism. Frank has been married to Helen Isabel Maguire née Estevez of Culver City, California, since 1957. They have six children, 14 grandchildren, and 10 great grandchildren.


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