poetry Homeless America
By Philip Kolin
This land was made for you
and me but not for the homeless.
They must squat on ground
the length and width of a gravesite--
sleeping on steel slatted beds
depending on rain to wash their clothes
and the sun to dry their socks.
Sometime they live in big-box cartons
that don't have addresses or locks on ,
they don't even have doors; and walls
can shrink into pulp or blow away.
Or they encamp in makeshift tents
mortgaged to the wind and hope the Billy
club cops won’t foreclose. They sleep in vehicles
without wheels and blue tarp roofs.
Once they were RV's made for road trips;
now they are fugitives from junk yards.
They no longer ask when they can come home
because there is no home. Rents are out
of their reach; or their hours have been
cut or they had their jobs outsourced to
another country. Or medical bills have Gurney'd
them from hospitals to streets. Or their families
have given up on them. The price of belonging
is love. They are bankrupt there too.
Wall Street says they need to stick it out
but out of sight across the wilderness
of the streets; no gleaming cities want them.
They are unshaven, untouchable, uncared for,
unaccounted for, unacceptable. They give
American progress a bad name; they are
bad for business.
Philip Kolin is the Distinguished Professor of English Emeritus and Editor Emeritus of the Southern Quarterly at the University of Southern Mississippi. He has published 15 collections of poems including Emmett Till in Different States, Benedict's Daughter, Delta Tears, and Mapping Trauma: Poems of Resistance about Black History (Third World Press).