Stories in rain-blotched,

coffee-stained journals,
in diaries, and poems on pads:
hopes and hurts, dreams and disappointments,
insecurities and honesty…
summaries and understandings
by and about street people,
often with “more grace than pain.”

Been listening and talking,
editing and photographing
‘street people’ and
‘upper-class homeless.’
Few fit the ‘alki,’ ‘druggie,’ ‘retard’ stereotype.

Divorce, foreclosure, lay-off,
limited/cancelled health insurance:
women, men, children, families
under bridges, hiding in parks, sleeping on door stoops,
on benches, in alleys, in encampment ‘tent cities.’

It’s hard scrabble street survival
for America’s white-collar, blue-collar, red-neck
non-consuming cast-offs…
for America’s disabled, destitute, fell-through-the-cracks
Korean, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan vet…
for the out-sourced, down-sized, jobless.

As salary gulfs widen,
the reality of the foreclosed,
unemployed, underemployed grows.
Who creates the personal
“Life, Liberty and pursuit of Happiness” non-economy?
And how?
…privatized, profiteering, market-based sheltering?
…often-restrictive, faith-based, nights-only offerings?
…night-only, cash-strapped, local-government soup-kitchen-sanitary-dormitories?

“Will they be like putting make-up on Mom at the morgue?
…and will going to the bathroom still be a luxury?”

moves in
moves out
moves on.

Self-reliance gifts self-esteem
and a hand-out
is not necessarily
a hand-up.

From the ‘upper-class homeless’
of Portland, Oregon’s Dignity Village
come “sobering and inspiring” solutions.


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