By Seneca Cooper
The answer to that is yes. The reason why is because of the system.
Housing also has a lot to do with it. The waiting list for housing in DC is longer than the Mississippi, Amazon, and Nile rivers combined. When more people apply for housing, the waiting list keeps getting longer and longer.
It seems that the politicians here are lazy and don’t do anything about solving the problem about homelessness. My question to the mayor, City Council, also the White House, is what are you guys going to do about eliminating this homeless epidemic.
The disease is not only here in DC but also all across the nation. Mayor Vincent Grey and City Council, President Obama and the administration, what is your plan to end homelessness in this country because this disease is getting way out of control right now and it must be stopped?
If it isn’t contained, then we’re heading into dire straits. The men and women, especially the ones that have children that are homeless, are struggling because the help from these organizations is not enough to keep them going.
I have a challenge to you politicians that I’m going to issue. My challenge to all of you politicians is this: Do any of you have a plan to end homelessness? Because it seems to me that the words coming out of your mouths are full of crap. What is the real plan to end homelessness, not only in DC, but also all over the country?
I wonder if any of you politicians are man enough answer the question. Homelessness must end, and it starts now. Remember this: The ball is in your court, and the clock is ticking.
By Kate Glantz
This is a story of compassion in unlikely places. Of men with very little and men with a lot, doing right by each other because it was the right thing to do. This story begins with Eric Weires, a soft-spoken man from the Midwest with kind eyes and an easy way.
On May 4, Weires left his family and comfortable life in Chicago for a weekend of sightseeing in Washington, D.C. Although he intended to visit many of the nation’s most famous museums and monuments, Weires was not your average tourist. His to-do list also included sleeping on cardboard, sampling the cuisine at local soup kitchens and panhandling.
As CEO of Fine Line Services, a Chicago-based maintenance company, Weires was in town to take the Homeless Challenge, a project designed to let Americans experience the realities of homelessness. The National Coalition for Homelessness has led Homeless Challenge Projects in Washington for more than three decades, and for 48 hours, Weires — the first CEO in Challenge history — would live on the streets penniless and with no guarantee of shelter.
Although the Challenge itself was a new experience, Weires was no stranger to hard times. As a child he thought of homelessness as more than a remote possibility.
“It was always stressful and humiliating and something that always was around the corner. Thankfully, it never happened to me as a kid. But it was rough growing up, real rough.”
Weires viewed the Homeless Challenge as an opportunity to raise the profile of an issue close to his heart and renew a greater sense of appreciation for his own life and how far he has come.
Besides photo identification for security measures and his cellphone to update a video blog, he carried only a map of the city, a checklist of activities representative of homeless life, and a shiny, black industrial-sized trash bag.
Day One began with a walk down Embassy Row. After a brief detour getting lost in Rock Creek Park, Weires located the Capitol and headed downtown. Making progress on his checklist, he stopped at an upscale hotel to request scissors and cardboard to make a sign. He was relieved when the concierge obliged.
After a brief internal debate about how best to frame his appeal, Weires scribbled in blue Sharpie marker: “3 Kids. Just wana get home. I’d appreciate the help!”
He camped out on a corner near the White House and collected $20 within an hour. Taking a passive approach to panhandling, Weires did not exchange a single word with anyone walking by. He was invisible, but he would not go hungry.
Making concessions for others and his own past behavior, he mused, “Who has time to start a conversation with friends [on the street], much less a homeless stranger? There are too many. You would have to stop on every corner.”
Weires tucked his sign into his pocket and headed to Subway for an early dinner.
As night fell, he met up with his homeless guide, Andre, at Franklin Square Park on 14th and I streets NW.
While Andre is a full-time student on scholarship at a local university, he has no source of income beyond what he earns guiding Homeless Challenge participants so he cannot afford to move off the streets.
The night was cold and the bench was hard. This was expected. What Weires did not anticipate were the enormous rats skittering below his feet. For the first time that day, Weires was ready to pull the plug.
Fortunately, Andre knew of a “nice alley” behind a nearby hotel, which was well kept as alleys go. The men pulled cardboard from a dumpster for makeshift mattresses and settled in for the night.
After a few fitful hours of sleep, the two parted ways as the sun rose. Weires was suddenly faced with the gravity of what he described as “the endless day.”
“There’s tons of time. It’s a little daunting, man. This just goes on forever. If I had to do this for a week, month, year or multiple years … I can see where others lose it.”
Weires also reflected on the chore it had been to locate public restrooms throughout the city. An obstacle, he noted, that could be even more stressful for women. “Even McDonald’s locks their [bathroom] door,” he said.
But compassion was also found in unlikely places. “[That morning] I went into a Starbucks and they were really nice. So nice that I asked them if they wouldn’t mind giving me a cup of their joe. So I got a free Starbucks,” he said.
Feeling positive despite his aching feet, Weires trekked across the city, with $12 remaining and his trash bag in hand. He spent much of the day alone and in silence. Glancing at the bag, he said, “At first it was a little embarrassing, but 99 percent of people didn’t notice me.”
Around 9 p.m., Weires met his second homeless guide, Steve, a self-professed “mother hen” of Homeless Challenge participants who classifies himself in the upper echelon of homelessness. In exchange for housing, he lives with and cares for an ailing senior citizen.
Weires and Steve made camp in an apparently rat-free park on Pennsylvania Avenue. The park bustled with other homeless men and women who for myriad reasons were not sleeping in one of the District’s shelters.
It was another cold and windy night. With his shoe as a pillow, Weires was comfortable enough but could not stay warm. No stranger to cruel elements in the middle of night, Steve had an extra blanket, which he tucked around Weires as he slept. The night passed without incident.
Eager to escape the morning chill, the men made their way to the Church of the Epiphany on 13th and G streets, a place of worship and refuge for anyone in need. Sensitive to extremes of both of weather and circumstance, the church opens its doors at 7 a.m. every Sunday with offerings of Bible study, support groups and a warm meal.
In his final act as a Homeless Challenge participant, Weires used what cash remained from panhandling to buy a gift card from McDonald’s. In less than a minute, the card was handed off to a man in need.
As his weekend peers ambled along another eternal day, Weires slipped off the street as quietly as he had come.
Weires entered the challenge to help shine a light on the untold burdens faced by homeless people in America. For two days, he was largely invisible and powerless, his thoughts and talents masked by rumpled clothes and empty pockets.
But as a corporate executive, Weires’ recognized he has the platform to be a catalyst for change.
By Chris Shaw
“The Cowboy Poet”
Loomis once again had kinda awoken from a dreamlike state wondering about Lyndsey whom he now incoherently referenced as “my Gal,” but entirely unawares as to her whereabouts. He further recalled flashing on a brick and timber village called “Foggy Bottom,” in far-away Washington, DC. Why there? -Oh yeah, I think I, Loomis Johnathan Akula Reader, was born there or mebbe stayed there as a shavetail…
“But NOW? WOW!!” Here he sits on a moldy ole marble slab– smack dab in the middle of Girod Cemetery. In New Orleans, and it’s raining slightly- brown puddles everywhere.
Leering across the way is this Goth-looking dude with greased back longish black hair name of Victor. And he’s holdin’ an ol’-fashioned QUILL PEN, all the better to sign this crinkly contract with Loomis’ name over it in about a dozen places, hooked up with the word, “Talent!” Victor and his wingman Ed leaned heavily into the slowly reviving “Mr. Reader,” urging him, “Sign the paper, man, Wouldja please?”
Loomis figured it was his time to ‘ask DeMille for his close-up, drawling, “How do I know I ain’t signing away my very SOUL?”
Ed and Vic both chimed in menacingly. “Sign the dam’ document, and save us the trouble of—”
“Aw sheesh–”, Loomis muttered nonchalantly. “What th’HAIL I ‘ve got to lose..”
He scribbled all the necessary John Hancock lines and initializings the paper required.
“Now I’m your boy, Right??”He looked across the slab. He could swear a marchin’ band was starting off on strains of “Saint James’ Infirmary,” even as we spoke. Ed and Victor merely locked in a knowing glance.
Loomis was flummoxed. “W-Where does I know you two odd gents from, anyhow, And is dat a thoid cat lurkin’ in tha overgrown boxwoods overhead of us?”
Indeed it was, and this figure was not only all in black, but cloaked, with a crimson sash AND a battered top hat. Loomis suspected he glommed a skeletal smile under the hat.
Victor piped up forcibly, “DAT, good chum, is for US to know an’ YOU TO FIND OUT, suh!”
The cloaked shroud-shape tossed its head back into a croaking, sinister, but desi-tively clownish monolog, along with the jass horn trio wafting over the cemetery wall. “An’ put mah 1879 Morgan Liberty Dollah, On mah Watch-Chain, So’s Ah can tell the world I DIED, STANDIN’ PAT!!!”
Loomis was inwardly freaking out–this was true WEIRDNESS, even for his vast range of experience. Mind, the entire Orleans Parish and all of her surroundings were undergoing the ultimately “Ult,” in paradigm shifting, at this time, but still, Loomis’ permutations were profound. So when Victor gurgled deeply, to ask Loomis if he’d ever met “Baron Legba,”(that
is to say, the swell with the topper and cloak) previously, the subject of this interrogatory-LOOMIS- chose to blot out the unthinkable.
Meaning in his mind, his monkey-mind, “Have I al-READY crossed the Styx River into the Land Of The Dead? Bull-Hockey! NO way, man–(Then, snapping back, fully sentient now) “Did, uh, did you say, Vic? Do I understand you is TRYIN’ to revive my spotted career in ENTERTAINMENT? I say, I say, Let’s GO FOR IT!!”
Loomis staggered to his feet, and with the aid of Ed and Master Victor(his newly minted “Manager,”)propping him up ‘neath either arm pit, they sauntered forth as a shaky band of three out the side gates of Girod cemetery, with “Baron Legba,” or whomever was covering ‘Dat’ role, a short shadowy distance behind. This ensemble picked its way thru the litter and detritus of Katrina-stricken ‘Nola,’ in the direction of Perdido Street- remember, children,
“Perdido” to many, in Spanish, means ‘Lost’.
(To be Continued)
By Chris Shaw
“The Cowboy Poet”
Adam stood in the box
For Strike-out Number twenty-three,
Fanned out, for numero twenty-four;
Twenty-five he could see for free.
Strasburg, now he smugly throws
practice tosses, so unmindful(it seems)
Of his mounting losses!
Espo, You’ll just have to go-go,
If your on base ‘pee-cee-tee,’
Grows any more lo-low.
So it is with our delicate Nats.
What rictus is it,
That e’en freezes their Bats?
In the recent home stand
We appeared to retake command,
By snatching a trio from the
Dreaded Reds, Yet
in the fourth game of the series,
Once again- Dead.
With a nod to Chaucer, give us
A mighty Ball Tosser,
Thus rending to the showers
Rodriguez, Storen and Haren:
Pitchers without powers!
In May’s bright resumption of Atlanta league war;
Davey needn’t shed alibis nor apologia.
By Robert Warren
I had a poem in my head
For the young and the old
Untold wisdom would be known.
I had a poem in my head
With words for lovers and friends
Just about the thought one being there.
I had a poem in my head
For those who read and write poetry
And learn them through to the end, again and again.
I had a poem in my head
That could sing along
It could be part of a great song.
I had a poem in my head
That let one know of rain drops and snow
Fall leaves, the sun, heat, a cool breeze coming off the trees
I had a poem in my head
That spoke of the glory of the Lord
In one’s life, soaring to new heights, with prayer and trust in there.
I had a poem in my head
But where did it go?
That poem that I had in my head that said and said and said
So many things about me
And who I hope to be
That poem that I had in my head.
By Gwynette Smith
The writer wondered, as often
About her life,
And thought to herself
What could I write
Do I want to be happy?
Do I want to be rich?
Will children come to me?
As she pondered her life,
Her muse came to her,
And told her,
Open your eyes and see
No one knows
What enters or leaves
Or what will even be.
By Mark Poetker
The Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless kicked off its 2013 Fannie Mae Help the Homeless program with a May 5 Shelter Walk ‘n Roll Community Walk.
Approximately 100 people gathered at the Mattie J T Stepanek Park in Rockville for the event, enjoying music, face-painting, games, and of course, a festive walk around the King Farm community.
The event was attended by Montgomery County Councilmember George Leventhal (At-Large) who chairs the council’s health and human services committee.
While noting that the county’s goal of ending homelessness has not yet been attained, Leventhal credited local efforts with reducing homelessness for both individuals and families in recent years. Montgomery County has seen its homeless population fall from over 1,800 in 2002 to just over 950 as of January 25, 2013, Leventhal noted.
Susanne Sinclair-Smith, Executive Director of Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless, expressed gratitude for all who attended, and give of their time, talents, and financial donations. Funds raised at the event will go toward maintaining and expanding MCCH programs that directly address ending homelessness.
By Jeffery McNeil
In my last column, I reviewed some of the events in the life of Malcolm X that led up to his landmark speech “The Ballot or the Bullet.” In this issue, I will pick up the story where I left off, with the April 3, 1964 appearance of Malcolm X at Cory Methodist Church in Cleveland Ohio and his actual delivery of the speech.
His audience was a crowd of three thousand people, many of them white. His longtime companion Louis Lomax opened the ceremonies and then turned the podium over to Malcolm X.
Malcolm X began by explaining his break from the Nation of Islam. He said he remained a Muslim but he stressed the importance of transcending religious differences.
These are his words on the subject: “You and I – as I say, if we bring up religion we’ll have differences; we’ll have arguments; and we’ll never be able to get together. But if we keep our religion at home, keep our religion in the closet, keep our religion between ourselves and our God but when we come out here, we have a fight that’s common to all of us against an enemy who is common to all of us.”
Discussing politics was forbidden by the Nation of Islam. His break from orthodoxy became evident when Malcolm X rolled out his new plan for change. A philosophy evolved around community involvement in grassroots activism.
On politics, Malcolm said: “We must know what part politics play in our lives. And until we become politically mature we will always be mislead, lead astray, or deceived or maneuvered into supporting someone politically who doesn’t have the good of our community at heart.”
He went on to add this: “We will have to carry on a program, a political program, of reeducation to open our peoples’ eyes, make us become more politically conscious, politically mature, and then whenever we get ready to cast our ballot ,that ballot will be cast for a man of the community who has the good of the community at heart.”
In terms of job creation Malcolm X favored a market-based solution. He believed the best way to create jobs was for the people in the community to become job creators.
Here is what he had to say: “The black man himself has to be made aware of the importance of going into business. And once you and I go into business, we own and operate at least the businesses in our community. What we will be doing is developing a situation wherein we will actually be able to create employment for the people in the community. And once you can create some employment in the community where you live it will eliminate the necessity of you and me having to act ignorantly and disgracefully, boycotting and picketing some practice some place else trying to beg him for a job. Anytime you have to rely upon your enemy for a job – you’re in bad shape.”
Malcolm X opposed public assistance; he saw it engendering a culture of dependency. He said self-help, in the form of black nationalism, was the key to getting off the plantation of government.
“We need a self-help program, a do-it-yourself philosophy, a do-it-right-now philosophy, a it’s-already-too-late philosophy. This is what you and I need to get with, and the only way we are going to solve our problem is with a self help program. Before we can get a self-help program started we have to have a self-help philosophy.
Black nationalism is a self-help philosophy.”
In the next issue I will go on to explore more important points made in “The Ballot or the Bullet.”
By Ibn Hipps
Through dreams and visions God sent special prayers and chants. A new way of life for Josh and his family: prayers and chants were taught from the head of the household down to the youngins. Prayers of protection.
The voice tells Josh, in his dreams, that these prayers and chants are most important to be taught to his whole family: cousins, nephews, everyone.
But the voice doesn’t just tell, it orders. So Josh teaches his whole family the prayers and chants he‘s seen in his dream.
“Since the brown-skinned, wide-eyed, black-dotted-head child is with us, everything will be fine,” Melissa says.
She grabs and holds Josh tight because he tosses and turns all night. We all do, but some are allowed to sleep during times chosen by Maliki, the Child of Life of Light.
Depending on the weight of the visions, Josh wakes up most nights sweating heavily. Melissa always wakes up in tears, but Josh is there to comfort her. So do the kids, as Melissa sits on the edge of their bed, comforting them and talking to them.
“Everything is going to be alright,” Melissa says.
The weather gets crazy, it happens all over the world. People blame it on science and modern technology. But Josh and Melissa knows that it’s the Child of Life of Light cleaning up the darkness and evil of Isotopia.
The world is blind to what’s going on. The people of Isotopia don’t believe God is sending someone, much less that he is here with us now!
The sickness of Isotopia has lead astray all except a few. Each year the Child of Life of Light grows. The evil misguided people suffer the wrath of a biblical punishment from the one God himself, sent straight to Isotopia.
“What more do we want?!!” yells Josh, one of the many hungry fighting soldiers.
The corrupt way of living is over, the heartless have lost. Peace has arrived. Welcome to the true freedom. One faith, one God, that’s all thou Lord has asked of us.
One Saturday, the kids and new one all asleep, Josh and Melissa sit over a nice romantic candlelight dinner. Together they talk about their dreams, or their ‘visions’ Josh calls them. Josh explains to Melissa that his dreams tell him that the evil in the hearts of mankind will come alive and consume the bodies of mankind. Once a human-like child reaches adulthood, things that you see are going to make it hard for you to smile.
The weird things about Maliki: it doesn’t cry at all – he’s always at peace, always smiling, and always smells like musk. Mike and his brother play with the child, sent straight from the heavenly God himself. Things at school change. Each change brings a different reaction. Some good, some bad, some devastating, some tragic.
Josh tells Melissa that the voice in his dreams tells him, “Life is what you make it.The poor and the believers: I am here to bring truth to you, for thou cannot lie.“
The people of Isotopia, so stuck in their selfish and sinful ways do not realize the change in themselves, nor the change in their city of Isotopia. ‘The blind people’ Josh calls them ever since the baby arrived.
The weather has been crazy: thunderstorms, hurricanes, earthquakes, you name it. When the sun shines, it kills the animals and crops with its blazing rays of heat.
“The dreams do give protection of prayer,” Josh says. He and his family practice every day, these prayers and chants, to protect themselves from the evil of Isotopia. The human-like child looks on, wide-eyed and wide-smiled.
“He knows,” Josh says.
“Yeah, he knows,” replies Melissa.
(to be continued)
By Rashawn Bowser
Someone here is lying.
Someone here is hiding.
Someone here knows something,
But doesn’t know how to tell it.
They want to tell their loved ones
all that they know,
but they are afraid of
What they might say.
They want them to know everything about them,
But don’t want them to know
And want them to stay with them
So, now they sit and wonder,
Still holding onto their secret,
And keeping it
where no one