Homeless Lessons to Rachel Lyra

If human shit on the sidewalk offends you

Think where you would crap

In the middle of the night

If you were forced to live on the streets;


If walking by sidewalk tent

Encampments is uncomfortable

For you, imagine how a 30% rent

Increase, loss of job, sudden

Hospitalization, or owner-move-in

Could pull the rug out

From under you, the many possible

Trajectories from security & safety

To the chaos of precarity when lacking

Shelter– all too easy

To imagine (& then dismiss);


If the scattered empties, wasted

Faces, ragged clothes soiled

With the grime of urban elements,

& the needles in the gutters scare

You, consider what cheap escape

You would turn to if continual danger,

Sleeping on wet pavements, hunger, &

Roused by cops or DPW at 4AM on a daily

Basis tore your humanity & your soul

To shreds & eliminated any hopes

You once might have borne;


Consider too how having

To confront the shit, the tents,

The meth-depleted faces

Nearly every day teaches powerful

Lessons, lessons mothers can convey

To offspring, teachers to students, landlords

To tenants, and foremen to laborers

About just how much shit they will

Be willing to put up with at school, apartment,

And job, & the many injustices they will witness

But do nothing about because they know

How much worse their life

Could really be;


Lastly ponder whether these lessons

Might account for the curious fact

That those having both the power

& the resources actually to banish

Homelessness & the vast inequalities

Everywhere make noise but do little

Else precisely because those lessons

Provide a vital cement

Binding together an inhumane system

Riven with contradictions &

Having serious cracks in its facade.