Standing Rock of Homelessness
30 November 2016
“Don’t let New Denver become the Standing Rock of homelessness,” the executive director of the Buck Foundation says, while the handcuffs cut off his circulation to his left hand. “Would one of you fine officers mind arresting me again, so I can go get my car out of the in-pound lot?”
It is day seven of the sweeps of the streets, the city’s response to the homeless crisis surrounding the Denver Rescue Mission and the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless.
“We are going to keep coming back until you folks decide to find another place to sleep. We cannot have you lying out here on the sidewalk. It is a safety issue. Please move along quietly, so we do not have to arrest anybody. If you are arrested, do realize that we will be confiscating your sleeping bags, belongings, and tent as evidence. It is against the law for you to lie down, cover yourself, or set up any camps. Your cooperation is appreciated. Oh, and don’t forget to have a great day!”
The commander opens the door of the cruiser, and throws the megaphone into the back seat. Smiling to himself, he sits in his car, watching the snow as it slaps against the windshield. The faceplate inside the car reads 13 degrees. Steam rises from his coffee cup like a small smoke signal in a cup.
“Commander, I have a bone to pick with you. You promised us that you would take our questions to the mayor, and not arrest anybody, today. What are you doing, now? Do you see that poor woman in the wheel-chair over there? Where do you suggest that she goes, once you push her off the corner? You may not know this, but there have been two miscarriages on this block, just this week. Do you really care about the people that you serve and protect?”
Ignoring the questions, the commander puts the cruiser into drive, and rolls slowly down the street, a sneer painted across his face.
“Someone needs to create a handbook entitled ‘The Urban Campers Guide to New Denver,’ which lists the service providers, and the resources that they provide. For example, where is the best place to eat on Mondays? The Spaghetti Feed on 16th Ave and Grant, of course! They provide donuts and coffee on Monday mornings, and then they serve a fantastic meal, from 1pm until 5pm. People are moving here in droves, and I am sure that they do not know where to go for a hot meal, a shower, or a place do their laundry. Have you heard about the Laundry Truck? The program just started in the last couple of months. Can you believe this? They will actually be parking outside of various venues, plugging into the Denver Water Department hydrant, and providing clean clothes for the homeless.”
“If you haven’t noticed that we have a housing crisis here in New Denver, you must be in a coma.”
16 December 2016 Friday, 10:30PM
Kaihanga taiki i to tatou iwi i te hipi mo’a e toru.
The narrative had spoken for itself, during the trial. Pleading not guilty by reasonable insanity. A thirty year sentence in the meanest paragraph house of shame, fading away into another day. Sometimes, I can see right into myself, burning inside and alone. We were never real to begin wiith, I just have not confessed to myself. I brought you here to tear into the middle of me. The laborer’s back in the final act of hospital reality. Damned you, Dentists, get out of my mouth! Tearing away at the roots of bones with a purpose. Empty holes, and he barely makes a sound. There is always the Pain, Fell asleep dying shame. You are sentenced to lie here next to strangers to your left and the right.
If you ask him, he says that he wants to die, out on the streets. Sleeping on cardboard, back against the church, he finds sleep in the graveyards and holy places. Do you believe in God? Frozen legs begging the churches to be opened up at midnight.
“Open your doors, at midnight. Put your money and mouth to the test. Let the homeless sleep in pews of the church, museum, library. Midnight slumber parties in the art museum. Hey, St. John’s Cathedral, I want to pray at midnight. Open the doors, please, and Thank You.
They have been digging up graveyards for centuries, robbing them blind. Capitalizing on the execution, it took the jury exactly 40 minutes (lunch was 30 minutes long), to convict him of trespassing. We really did think that my trial would help the other nine defendents. I was sentenced to 15 days, for the same crime, as the year’s probations, or dismissed all together.
It is not difficult for a prisoner of sound mind and body to realize his role in the jailhouse. Twenty three hours in the screaming coughing cursing, and an hour a day to walk the basketball court, or do push-ups on your fingertips. Welcome home, city and county of Denver, i have not seen the end of our relationship. As a fourth-generation Denverite, I cannot be more proud of you. Gentrification and pollution. Love you for that. The brown cloud hangs over the big black snake named Nowhere, Disunited Estates of ShAmeriKKKa, in the town of Bark. There once lived a Bard in the town of Bark.
Amoxicillin and Fireball Cinnamon Whisky(tm), smoking American Spirits(tm), and CO marijuana in the 1998 Ford 350 camper named Sally. In the dark, all of us have secrets.
Tonight we are calling it Fort Denver. Fort Denver stands in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Council. There will no longer be drilling along what is known as the Ogala Aquifer. No more fracking in the mountains of the Rockies. No more strip-mining the mountains of their trees, their cover from the sun.
General George Razee fought against the US Army massacre called Sand Creek. He did not sleep again until he was dead. They stole your soul! cried the old woman before he split her head open like a cantaloupe.
He is dying on the streets. The cold cement makes for a difficult day ahead. There are no more Tomorrows for those of us who cower against the cold rain under tarps of hope.
I know that you probably way behind on our agreement. What do you mean that they have unionized? This cannot happen here, rants Santa of Santa’s Sweatshop. You do not want to know what they did for the rest of the year. It is only fair that the elves are given a percentage of the gifts that Santa gives away. Santa has never had to pay taxes or face tariffs and stand-in-the-corner and think about you did, ruler slapped against knuckles.
Santa Elves Union North Pole elect their first president, an elf from the sweatshop who rose above his class not knowing that he would ever be King.
As soon as this storm slips away,
he used to say
for the last forty days
until the Devil named him
Blizzard. The winter is here to claim her crops.
Somewhere in South Dakota,
a little north of the Badlands,
tasting the inside of the wind
cold is cold everywhere
Those savages pulled out six teeth,
and he did not flinch
mourning the best of yesterday
another year of dying all over again.
Nothing could stop me from running away
but then I was the Other
Chased out of the garden
by a Big Black Snake.
My church is the water
and the future is nothing but black
Take to the air
beg the Sun to stay around for a year or two
renew the lease on land that has never be owned
Treaties and Handcuffs
Broken, both of them
Stories that could not rest
until someone told them to go home.