Have You Ever…?

Have you ever peered into the eyes of someone completely lost, hopeless, forgotten? To look into their eyes and see nothing, no dreams, only despair? Often when folks see a homeless person, they will joke that they are talking to themselves, have you never spoken to yourself? Maybe you didn’t feel like there was anybody else to talk with, no one to listen, no one to validate your existence.

Being homeless, even for one night can be scary, it can be devastating for a parent with children, there are families separated because there might only be a room at a shelter for the wife and children, not for dad. In general, society tends to look the other way when they come across homeless people, mind you I said homeless people and not “the homeless”; the later is a way of disassociating them from society. Someone whom is homeless already feels alone, in fact it might be the absolute loneliest a person can ever be, and then on top of that for others to literally look away or cross the street to not have to come close is demoralizing at best. Not only are they marginalized but then they are simply ignored or admonished by the public as trash might be.

What put the homeless people onto the streets, why are they there? What happened to lead them into the shadows, to live under bridges, in sewer and run-off tunnels, along the river in tarp covered hovels built from fallen trees and branches, during the winter? Did they succumb to a mental illness not having insurance or ran out of money due to an illness? Did they lose their job, their home and their family?  Have you ever felt so desperate that you found yourself sifting through someone else’s garbage? Have you ever been so distressed that you did things you might never have dreamed of doing? Things that made you feel dirty, immoral, disgusted with yourself or even less than human?

I am not attempting to make anyone feel bad or guilty, I just want people to remember there are folks out there barely surviving, they are sick, they cry at night because they are beginning to forget who they are, they fall asleep at night wondering if they will wake up, if they will be raped, if they will get to that point tomorrow where they will finally give in and do something they won’t be able to forgive themselves for, will they become the people they used to see wandering the dark places, ghosts of society, whose only thought each day is how to keep their selves or their children alive one more day.

This happens every single day, even in your community, believe it or not no city, neighborhood, community is immune. I know, I’ve seen those eyes before, I’ve stared into them, looking for some flicker of hope, some remnant of a bygone dream, I have looked past the dirt, the shame, the guilt, into the reddened, yellowed tired eyes through a broken mirror.

There is a reason lives are counted officially by souls, its because no matter your religion, race, culture, political stand, sexual identity, economic level or you live in the suburb or the city, in an apartment, a home, a car in a parking ramp, or under a bridge, we are all souls in the end, thriving or barely alive. We can never forget that.

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The Truth behind Her Eyes

Wandering through the fall days longing for an answer to a question he hasn’t formulated yet, but wondering each day what’ll happen the next. He looks for an out from a dark place, his only respite enjoyed on his bike, riding in the cool air, feeling the slight warmth of the sun on his face. And writing, putting pen to paper the old way, trying to keep up with the voice in his head as he scribbles in an old hand made leather bound book he crafted himself. He is lonely, he is worried and he feels trapped.

On a sunny Saturday morning he walks into his writing group, it’s located in the midst of many cultural shops throughout the Global Market in Midtown. It is still early but the sounds of many of the shops and restaurants begin to echo throughout the indoor market like a cacophony of a tinny instrumental. The tables in the restaurant the group meets in have already been formed into a large square to accommodate the slowly, quietly arriving writers. They all take their seats in their favorite places below the early sunlight flowing in between the blinds in the large window. And they patiently wait for their turns to read and listen to each other’s stories, rhymes and reflections of their internal hymnals.

This is his place, his saving grace; there is no judgment here, no criticism, no dishonesty and no harm. It is a place for him to divulge his pain in an artistic manner, to spill over his dreams and nightmares, it is here that he learns to carve out a space for honesty and truth without repercussion, to offer himself in a way that others feel and hear and welcome without prejudice. It is here that he met her.

He removed his jacket and gathered a cup of coffee and sat at the table facing the window. He looked around at the others, there were a couple of people he hadn’t recognized and always made it a habit to welcome those he didn’t know whom might be new, however the moderator begun and we began to write. As he listened to those whom chose to read he was enjoying each word, each transitional phrase, he enjoyed each person’s individual method of sharing the secrets they held closely outside of this group. He was fascinated by their personal narratives and their anecdotes.

Then he heard her voice, and he turned to watch her as she read aloud. There was something different about her, different then the idea he had of her when he saw her initially. She read with a bold honesty and integrity, but there was more than that, as he watched her read she periodically looked up over her book at him, he began to hear something else in her tone, there was a parallel dialogue between them that no one else was privy to and he hung onto every word. She read from a place somewhere no one else was allowed to be, someplace she kept herself safe, a place in the shadows between her hurt and her struggle to stay alive. And he recognized it; he felt the coolness of the darker recesses. He saw the isolation and seclusion behind her eyes.

He would introduce himself to her during the break, flustered and flushed, he awkwardly spit out something incoherently, but she understood him and felt a draw from somewhere he was protecting but wouldn’t yet let her see. They shook hands and exchanged numbers and in the feel of her soft, delicate palm inside his strong, calloused grip there was something shared, something they would continue to feed and watch grow. Two people who felt lost in a world of darkness, found a light in a place they felt drawn to be. They would find a way to invite each other into their world, into their shadows and battle the cold with united warmth, warmth derived from an assembly of what is left of the embers that have continued to burn deep inside each of them. Together, hand in hand they would lean into the cool fall air, and build new fires, new dreams and go on wild and fantastic adventures.

The breaking of a father’s Heart

When she smiles his whole world lights up and his mind goes blank,

his heart slows and he wishes all time would stop and let him see her like that forever.

Her eyes sparkle and her skin becomes radiant, when she smiles.

 

When he thinks of her when she’s gone he can’t wait to see her again,

he misses her and tries to think of reasons to text her just to say hi.

Would a man dare become a father if he knew how much his life would change,

Would he back away and try and protect his heart from breaking all the time?

Could he walk away, knowing that on the darkest days, when storms rush all around him,

And he’s cold and afraid, that his daughter can make everything disappear with a simple “hello daddy”?

 

Once committed, a father‘s heart never stops getting broken, from the day his little tiny girl gets on that big ‘ol bus, to the day she drives away all by herself in the car, he worries about her, he thinks about her.

 

He can no longer protect her, he doesn’t get to hold her hand and walk her in to school.

He can only wait for her to come home, and when she does his heart breaks all over again.