Homeless people who take part in a writing workshop at the
Clergy Coalition Shelter for the Homeless in Hoboken, N.J., are the authors of
the poems selected for this week.
It would be so damn cool to live underground
liquor store, gun runner or dope dealer can be found
No electricity, no
sunlight to brighten your day
Just the dim lights of candles to show you the
No worrying about gung-ho police, or crossing the street
No sense of
direction, you just follow your feet
No more bullshit government, or the
You just go from tunnel to tunnel as time flies
what do you do when you come to a dead end?
Its simple, you just turn
around and start the same process over again
All this sounds weird, and you
wonder where it will stop
But soon as your ass get hungry, youll find
your way to the top
I guess some people say living underground is real
But if you think you can do it without coming to the top
You are the
worlds biggest damn fool.
-- Robert Leech
Beneath the Surface
Hoboken is a city of beauty and at night it is
of lights. Beneath all the beauty and
lights it is a city full of people who
striving to survive, who have lost all hope
with the system and only
find strength in
those who can relate or those who are in the
situation or predicament and find
comfort in knowing that they are not
no matter how lost, lonely or forgotten they may be.
This Hand Protected from all Harm
This hand helped take care of four kids of
five grandkids and their mothers.
It also provided for them as they grew up,
protected them from all harm and also
helped them understand what it
have some kind of training for the future.
-- James M.
Please Hear Me
Fear of not being understood
Thats really not
Means one thing
And the things seen as
Is the worst thing -- to me
Please hear me -- my sister
Mamas Hands, Fathers Necklace
What can I say? Mommas hands were full
talent. She made biscuits delicious with
them. She shelled peas, washed,
beans with them and raising three sometimes
hardheaded boys by
herself. If you messed
up bad enough she could use her hands to
into next week. Her hands gave
us an allowance. Not on a regular basis
pretty regular -- when she could. Her hands
opened our report cards
and trembled with
anger when she got hurt or mad. One time
father came over and they
were arguing about something he did. They
in the bathroom and he punched her
hard in the eye. We didnt see it
were on the steps. The toilet seat was broke
and loose. She took
those hands and
wrapped the toilet seat around his neck. He
ran out of
the house like that. Everyone saw
it and laughed.
-- Gary Evans
Leaving My Seat
As I walk through the city of Hoboken my
lifted by the fast pace of
professionals racing off to their careers, the
beautiful shops and restaurants that light up
Washington Street. There
are plenty of
churches, delis and the great aroma of all
of food. However, I also see
the men in the blue and white cars with
their blue and white suits waiting for me to
take a seat at the train
stations, the bus stop,
restaurants, the book stores, waiting to tell
to leave my seat!!
-- Michael Lawrence
I am heavily laden with cares and woes
Too many to
count on my fingers and toes
Making the Transition
My best learning experience was making the
from being taken care of to taking care
of myself. People change when they
can use you to
get what you have. When you give more, people
kindness for weakness. Youve got to
understand yourself and your life.
Keep your eyes
on your opponent at all times.
Who Am I? Your sister or brother, your
father, your daughter or your son.
I am homeless. Black or white, red
brown, I walk the streets all day looking
just to make it. Through the
day people look
at me and stand back to their friends and
talk about me,
about how I look and how I
smell, never knowing the real person that
inside of me. As you watch your TV and
play your tapes, I try to stay
warm on very
cold days. When you are warm in your
home, I am homeless. As
you sleep at night
in your nice warm bed I am trying to sleep
can: rooftops and doorways,
park benches and so on.
Children of the World
Children of the world today
See how they play every
Growing ghetto poor and stay
Wealthy in their own sweet way
Children of the world today
Jumping rope play their own sweet day
pray in our only way
Let us be what was today
-- Gerome Barksdale
help me sometimes when Im broke.
embarrassing when I drop them, like today
from my wallet. I did
pick up. I dont care if
any drop when its money. Far back
I count 75 pennies and I buy milk for my
daughter. I was pregnant
with my son and
have a little girl one year and three months.
how I get to go. I pick up where I
see them on the street or anywhere.
make lots of cents.
-- Regina G. Stickle
Troubles, Worries, Work
Moving day. It always scared me to death.
worries, work. It includes
everything to make me crazy. Some people
it, but not me. There is always some
hope but what are hopes? Hopes
troubles, worries, work, and they include
everything to make me
crazy. Some people
like it, but not me. I would like not to move.
like to stay, because actually days
are not moving. There are no moving
Time stays. We move. I would like to stay
not to move.
Having Gone Through It Before
Well, sometimes its hard to ask for help
you have been through it before.
Sometimes I can hit myself in the head
someone has to tell me what to do, how to
do it and when. Sometimes
it really sucks.
But the pain and running made me put up
with what I
have to do to get back on the
right track and turn my life back around.
After going into treatment for fourteen
inside and six months in a
staying clean for six and half years you
would think I
-- Big Barry
Loud and Quiet
Im mad as anything
I want nothing more
to yell as loud as thunder
Yet I keep as quiet as a snowfall
-- M. Tufano
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1999 in POETRY
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