I’ve been homeless
And hungry
Merely a credit card away
From being a street person
Fortunate to have
Kind family and friends
Lucky to be
Drug and alcohol free
Favored to have volition
To retain ambition
And always remained sane
In my crazy, madcap way


But I know
The untethered feeling
Of being alone
Unable to cope
Unable to return home
It’s like I went day tripping
To the astral plane
And suddenly the slender, silver cord
Connecting my soul to the body below
Snapped in two, severed
As I trailed the useless, dangling connection
Wanting so badly to return
But unable to do so
My mind, emotions, anger
Refused to permit it


So I imagine
How scared the homeless may be
Like when I lived in Philly
The ones sleeping on steam grates
In twenty degree icy weather
My mom gently placing
Coats and socks
On the sleepers
While I do my part
When going to and from work
With piles of plastic sandwich bags
Filled with pennies
In the days when cash
Was the way
I would pay
And my pockets sagged from the change
One hundred pennies
Each bag
Giving to those still able to walk around
A woman wearing fake fur
Face crawling with lice
Blessed me and
I let her hug me
I don’t care what they spend it on
It’s for their comfort
Wish I could give more


But my heart hardened
Here in Florida
They camp in the woods
Behind my trailer
Owning bikes and designer clothes
They steal my copper pipes and
Whatever else brings money from recycling
And I feel hard
And angry
Angry with myself
For feeling cynical
About just how needy
Are these new homeless
And I think
How their living in my woods
Attracts rats
Because they shit and piss
On the loamy earth
Or toss garbage
And I say
I’m the working poor
I just want my little bit of life:
Internet, a few toys and books
And enough food and gas for the car
I never drive far
And who do they think they are????


So one day I’m strumming
Baritone ukulele
That sounds like a guitar
Strumming out my old folk songs
And wonder how my
Love of humanity
Wandered so far
From the days I believed
We could all live in love and peace
I feel afraid
Don’t want to leave this life
With hatred and suspicion
Enraged and spitting at others
Who are doing the best they can
To survive
What do I know of
The devastation in their lives
The people who hurt them
The cruelty of husbands and wives
Why am I judging them


So I pull on my Wellies
Walk through the eons of fallen leaves
Find their campfire
Now deserted
I place the large plastic crate
With clothes and socks
Sleeping bags and crocks
Of baby wipes, shampoo
Soap, towels, pads
All the niceties I’m sure they don’t have
Hoping when the shelters close
As the weather warms
They will return
And forgive me my thoughts
Hope I can forgive me my thoughts, too…


(c) 2017 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)
IMAGE: Behind my yard


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  1. In the eighties I was surprised to see news on TV about the “homeless”. I thought they were a throwback to the sixties’ “hippies” I met, and was one of, on my road trips. But, no. Not the same animal. These were people down on their luck, dirty for a reason, not a cause. Today, they seem even further removed. Professional panhandlers. Living off “Will Work for Food” signs smoking $5-$10 a pack cigarettes and sipping Monster Energy drinks I’m sure they lace with half gallon bottles of Vodka they hide in their shopping carts. I believe your karma is intact, Clarissa. It’s the same rat race, different rat. Oh well…now I know I’m going to burn in hell.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, Pablo, I’d have to say that you also want to give the benefit of the doubt to others. Reading your poetry, I believe you struggle with what is the right thing to do in life, at least, right for you and others. We’re all so hard on ourselves and maybe that is good. So I think your karma is also intact. If I was going to be buried, rather than cremated, I’d want my stone to say “She Tried” and that’s all any of us can do…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s a great free verse poem, Clarissa. It shows a positive progression. And it hits home as I’ve gone that very same route. Older and much wiser, I now know something about change, how it can go both ways, and lately, world-wide, it is going very sour. So, for me, forget love and peace – that has never worked, just great feelings and lousy emotions. I now deliberately approach “my” world with common sense and increasing compassion. Judgment, sure, as in discernment, but no condemnation. With compassion grows empathy. With empathy comes understanding. As for forgiving, suffice it that I can find the wherewithal and power within to forgive myself. It doesn’t take care of all of it, but it helps. I do not expect others to ever forgive me, and if I also was to be buried, (and there was money for a stone!) this is what it would read: Forgive me, I could have done much more to help. That would be an honest “parting shot.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, thanks, Sha’Tara. I think I understand that saying about the older we get, the less we know and that’s certainly true for me. We go through so many stages during our lives but they are organic, growing and changing, and that must be good, right? 🙂


  3. Enjoyed your usual clear and straight shooting writing, Clarissa, your journey on this issue, and how you handled it. 💚 For me, there is the present moment and how we act, and there are philosophical questions about empathy, altruism, humanism. I know I have limits, and sometimes when I’ve recognized my own bias and prejudgement, I’ve been able to reverse it. At other times, I’ve been far too naive, believed the best about people, and paid a price. I now tell myself that still, it is the lesser of two evils.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Steve ❤ It's similar (in my mind) to thinking that if we help at least one person, it has to be worthwhile. I wanted to help the whole world, when younger but now I'll settle for one 🙂 But I know what you mean about naivete and paying the price. Same here but not sure what to do about it…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I also was born with a life goal: to help the world. With some serious teaching I was eventually, at age 35, able to turn it into a purpose instead of a goal. Though I still have the same “naive” sense that I can provide such help, there is the sense that “the world” is what my spiritual, mental and physical abilities can touch and affect. It cannot go beyond that without falling into chaos and despair or permanent depression. This is the very worst time of year for me, knowing how some will have their orgies of “getting” while so many will be paying the highest of all prices: with their lives, for the “joy to the world” that has to be purchased and that the rich, though quite able to afford it, still want for free. Of course I’m talking about global injustice, all the more prominent at Christmas time.
        Back to the topic, a goal is a good place to start but it’s too much like a New Year’s resolution. In the end, when it cannot be kept, it just heaps more guilt on us. So the Teachers pointed out a way to stay on track while eliminating the guilt. If we live our purpose, it being the prime directive, or prime moving force in our life then the details have to take care of themselves. We know when, we know to whom, we know how, and we know how much… and we know that if guilt rises when we see those Sally Ann bell ringers, it’s not our guilt we’re experiencing but the problem of being an empath in an unjust world. We carry on.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Thanks for your comments. I think I go back and forth on what is important. Today (12-17-17) I wrote a poem about tolerance and the non-polarization of the semantics of holidays. On certain days, I can take the girl out of the hippie but not the hippie out of the girl 🙂


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