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Writers' Club@Columbus and Homelessness in New York

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Last week it was thrilling to have two of the club’s guardian angels working with us. A special thanks to Lois Stavsky, who organized and created our workshop lesson and to Young Adult author Lyn Miller-Lachmann, the lego lady (her latest book Rogue) and resident of the Columbus Branch neighborhood, who dropped in, hung out, participated and inspired us all. The Writers' Club@Columbus examined the issue of homelessness, a daunting problem afflicting our city and world.

Cold Blanket
Cold is a big blanket
And the longer you’re outside
It grows
Cold covers a lot of space doesn’t it?
Where are the eyes to see it?
Where are the eyes to see what it covers?
Cold is a little cold that way
Leaving what it touches
A little less warmer
—Lenny Collado

Description of the person in the picture
Adult big teen
In his 30s or older
In his mid-40’s
40s
I believe around 30

Where is he/she is heading – anywhere safe & warm
To look for heat, shelter
For a nearby garbage can
A place where no one will bother him
Up the block but no place fast

Where is he/she coming from—the last place that was relatively safe and warm
The last place he was kicked out of
From another garbage can
A place where people don’t want him
To find somewhere to sit

5 things in the person’s wagon
Blanket, gloves, pillow
Bottles
An umbrella
Coats, shoes, a spoon
Roaches

Why a shopping cart? Like a snail that carries its house on its back
He chooses this because he doesn’t want to lose the little things he has
He has nothing else to carry the tons of stuff he has
He was able to get it for free because once he started using it nobody else wanted it

What happened to him? Mental or health disabilities, lost job
Probably drugs, not finishing school
Maybe he lost his job or just got kicked out and left on the streets
He was incarcerated and when he got out nobody would put him up or hire him
A little crazy, no money no help

How long homeless: not long -—not that raggedy
One month
3 months his pants look new

Advice: get off the street if you can
Nothing because there’s nothing you can say
I’d tell him to try to reach for help from the government and try to get to a shelter
Go to a church or agency to get off the streets before his stuff gets ruined or stolen
Try to get help, a job, a second chance

What should the city do? Find him an apartment—a job or training
The city can help him in a shelter
The city can help him by opening doors of education
Find a place for him to live and a job

Greatest challenge – surviving the day
Getting food, clothing a place to sleep
He faces hunger, cold and he’s probably tired
Cold, rain
Living, staying healthy

Response to how’s your day going – Beat it
I think he would say not as bad as yours
He might say all his life he’s experienced bad stuff
Turn away, move on
My day is messed the f up

What would you ask – are you hungry?
What happened?
What can I do to help?
How can I help?

Chelsea Poetry
Homelessness: Chelsea
I see dirty streets
Even though they are clean
I see gloves and a pillow
Maybe for him to cover his hands and sleep
The zone seems pretty dark
Even though it’s day
And his eyes… oh, his eyes
Who will ever know what they keep?
—Elianny Moronta

I see a human bundle rolling life’s possessions down the street: disgarded mover’s
blanket for bedding; a slip bucket for bathing; an extra pair of gloves for layering against
the cold
I see a cold hard monotonously brick project
with shaded windows blocking out the world to insulate the living
a fence to keep people out;
I see no sunlight, no warmth, only the bundles insistence on living
—Matt Rudansky

I see a man who seems middle aged, who seems weak and tired
I see a man who lacks of hope and needs some faith
I see a man who needs some help and a friend
I see a man who shouldn’t go through this depressing and terrible lifestyle
I see a man who doesn’t care what you think for he’s doing whatever he needs to do to survive
I see a homeless man
—Darlene Pompa

I see struggle
I see a city neglecting its neglected
Showing a side of itself it could do without
I see nothing being done
Because I see a man down and out
I see a small window
And many obstacles
Both touchable and untouchable
—Lenny Collado

I see the fence that keeps a man from shelter
The grates over the windows and drawn curtains say you are not welcome here
We hardly have enough for ourselves (we only have one air conditioner for everyone)
Our garden cannot grow food
Our trees are bare and shed pieces of themselves
—Lyn Miller-Lachmann

I see what nobody else sees
I see no one around me
I see there is no one to love nor to even care about me
I see garbage on the floor where I sleep
I see myself hurting while I walk
I see ripped up gloves in my hand
I see what I didn’t see before now
I see what nobody else sees
—Bryan Morales

I see a man, I think
with the world on his back
in front of a building of bricks
and traps.
I see homes but not for him,
a city where people r so rich it’s a sin
that so many can’t eat,
have no place to sleep.
I see one glove in the freezing cold
where no one cares for the young or old
and no one hears this man’s cry
or cares if he lives
or if he dies.
—Rodger Taylor

Columbus Circle
No Home but the bench
Call me a frozen mummy
Spring should thaw me out
—Mat Rudansky

It’s probably 6 in the afternoon
Of October last year
Who may see this man?
No one really, I think
He’s been there for 6 months now
With no one to watch his back
He may have found the covers in a trash bag
His mom kicked him out of home without another glance back
Poor little person
What is he going to do?
Well, that’s up to society to decide
—Elianny Moronta

Cars passing by
while I’m trying to survive.
People stare and look at me
while I cry.
People don’t help
and I start to die
trying to help myself
but I can’t survive.
—Bryan Morales

Sunrise reveals a man sleeping on a bench
in the shadow of power
Time Warner has turned its back
The boss’s assistant has called the police.
—Lyn Miller-Lachmann

Disparity! Disparity is what I see. I can’t believe what this
world has come to. It’s normal for the rich to walk, pass by
and ignore the real life problems. So here’s a man in the middle
of Columbus Circle and no one can reach for his assistance. Disparity that’s all it’s come to.
—Darlene Pompa

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