This is What Homeless Looks Like

Hot cup of coffee warm in our hands
we walked at sundown.
Ocean swells rose and fell,
crashed onto the grittle ground sand;
the shore was damp with salty spray.

In the ice plant covered dunes
we spied a woman sleeping;
her knees tucked in close,
the denim of her jeans
faded and thin.
Her shopping cart
was planted next to her
and her faded cotton jacket
wrapped her tight.

The next morning we ate bagels
by the hotel window.
I watched a man
on the green, beside the dunes,
thin, tall
stiff and sore
brown beard going grey.
His small dog
was blanket-burrowed
beside his cart.
The man flicked his eyes
across the grass and gathered

What is the trigger chain refrain
that lays claim to their lives
and leads to this shuffle of pain?
What gravity pulls them down
into the cracks
of the sidewalks?
I see him moving in my mind,
with humility
picking clean the grass,
and moving on.

Prompts: Sunday Wordle 65


32 thoughts on “This is What Homeless Looks Like

  1. I love this question, Annette.
    What is the trigger chain refrain
    that lays claim to their lives
    and leads to this shuffle of pain?

    You did well with the words. All words seemed to struggle against/with me this week. LoL
    Nicely wordled piece. I can picture the scene you witness.

  2. Wow.. what a deeply moving piece of writing this is. I can see these two lost people wandering through their lives. Your descriptions of them are so vivid, so rich in detail. I feel so sorry for the homeless. Like Brenda, I also liked the question, what causes this to occur. I guess the reasons are many.
    What a lovely (sad) read.

  3. This is a very strong write! The shuffle of pain… I have seen it. The image of picking clean the grass and moving on will stay with me. I really like this question:
    “What gravity pulls them down
    into the cracks
    of the sidewalks?”
    Wow. This pulls at my heart!

  4. As a child I cried every time I saw a blind or handicapped person, or someone who had no warm and loving home to go to… I just cry inside….strong wordle

  5. And yet there are some homeless who will defy gravity. I knew a gent who spends his entire day wondering parking lots just to pick up change to buy a cup of coffee. Always a kind word and a smile. Why there should be any homeless in advanced societies is a golden question. I saw a woman outside a grocery store one day with her daughter holding a sign: homeless please help. I hope along with my contribution they were able to eat a good meal and maybe even spend the night sheltered.

    Thanks for your visit and kind words. The reason Porter left can be found here:
    Wordles have gifted me with several segments.

    Oh, I couldn’t find you in Mr. Linky or in the Wordle Comments or on the Wordler list…but I had copied your website from another time so I was able to find you.

  6. Annette, you wrote homelessness from the inside, it seems. Realistic portrayal, and so sad. Wordle words disappear in the lines of your well crafted poem.

  7. I kept this ’til the end to comment on, because the poem moves me so much, I wanted to come back and reread it. I love the quiet directness of the speaker, the almost matter-of-factness of the description. Despite the sadness of the commentary, I find the spare description beautiful, as I would find a painting beautiful, even if its subject were sad. I’m thinking Murillo’s The Young Beggar, or Manet’s The Dead Toreador. Thank you for this.

    • Thanks Margo. I wanted to portray them accurately and show the sadness rather than talk about it directly. Above all, I didn’t want to sound preachy. I’m glad it worked. And, thank you as always for your valuable feedback.

  8. really great capture of the person…i have a huge place in my heart for the homeless knowing i am only ever a step away you know…this is a wonderful piece to me…giving them identitiy…

  9. What is the trigger chain refrain
    that lays claim to their lives
    and leads to this shuffle of pain?…that’s a great question to ask and sometimes it doesn’t take much to bring someone to the edge of your observations here and the way you write about them with such thoughtful voice

  10. A very vivid scenery and portrait of the homeless painted, especially that of the woman sleeping beside her shopping cart. You’ve also captured the sense of hopelessness or acceptance through your detailed description of their movement. Very insightful to read. Thanks for this poem.

  11. what gravity is it that pulls them into the sidewalk…first i am glad you notice them…many just overlook them…i just read this th other day…smiles….i dont care, i appreciate it cause as i said they have a huge place in my heart…smiles.

  12. A haunting poem, Annette. So much loss in the world while a minority is bloated with coin. Your poem would be a powerful message for bankers and politicians should they stop for a moment and reflect.

  13. My favorite line… What is the trigger chain refrain/ that lays claim to their lives /and leads to this shuffle of pain? I liked how you contrasted being inside with coffee and the people outside. Well done,

  14. poignant piece.Its important to feel their agony.but what is it that we can actually do?at times, helpless frustration can become too much.

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