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A Homeless Mess

by David R Spellman

it took not much more
than a half hour,
forty-five minutes
at the most
to displace her

she had been
given fair warning,
I had even
left a twenty
to the notice
I posted
on her calendar
to the tree
above her bedding,
the three stooges cartoon
a wall decoration hanging
on a nearby tree
mocking me,
intriguing me –
(I love the Stooges!)

but the order had come –
the garbage must
be removed;
the City,
inspectors in line,
had ignored the obvious;
this homeless
was nothing more
nothing less
than an eyesore,
an inconvenience,
a collection of
which was left
to us,
the property owner,
to clean up –
a violation
of health codes,
the threat
of fines
thwarted our efforts,
our true concern
for the health
and welfare
of this poor,
homeless soul

I showered afterwards
the dirt
I needed to clean
was from handling
her collected things
or from
being handled
by the City’s
to incorporate
such uncollected beings

of course,
the fire
that was lit
later that night
in her retribution
left me with
doused hopes
of redemption
for any
one of us


Author's Note: It had come to our company’s attention, via a City’s Health and Welfare division “inspection” of our property that a homeless woman was living there on our property. The City’s notice of violation ordered us to clean up the collection of garbage that was clearly her “homestead.” Repeated attempts by us to get her to move off the property without involving the authorities had failed. A second notice of violation, our apparent failure to address the issue, forced us to take action, necessarily to avoid potential fines and lawsuits. The whole sad story, especially that of the homeless woman herself, but also of the City’s inability, or rather, “circle-jerk, take-no-responsibility” attitude has left me exasperated and deeply concerned at our society’s failure to address this issue. Oddly, the fire that mysteriously happened in our dumpster later that night leaves me with mixed feelings – who is to blame?

Posted on 05/28/2009
Copyright © 2023 David R Spellman

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Kris Mara on 05/29/09 at 01:28 PM

such a sad, conflicting situation...you were able to focus your thoughts and words on it really well -- it's hard to make comments on someone's writing technique when I'm reacting to the feelings it's evoked, but this was really good.

Posted by Chris Sorrenti on 06/01/09 at 10:21 PM

A worthy expression David of those who slip through the cracks, and of those like yourself who also become victims of the system.

Posted by Quentin S Clingerman on 06/02/09 at 01:02 AM

Though in a different style and a different specific your poem goes along with one that Chris Sorrenti just posted concerning missing children. Another symptom of a very sin sick society!

Posted by Glenn Currier on 07/25/09 at 11:41 PM

David, through all of your poem your caring soul comes through. It IS frustrating reading about bailed out bank executives and employees again getting huge bonuses while this woman and so many others find no satisfactory solution. I think Quentin said it well... "the sin sick society." Thanks for sharing and showing your beautiful humanity.

Posted by Gabrielle L Gervais on 12/21/09 at 03:27 AM

I so glad I finally got to read this. Thank you.

Posted by Quentin S Clingerman on 01/02/14 at 04:21 PM

The problem persists doesn't it? Frederick City, MD is facing what to do for the homeless all year around. There is shelter during the colder months but that is all unless they can get into the Rescue Mission's program. At least there are those who are attempting to do something and the newspaper keeps it in front of the public.

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