Published in the St. Anthony's Haven Shelter, Welcoming Hands Newsletter, January 20, 1999

Published in the St. Anthony's Haven Shelter, Welcoming Hands Newsletter, January 20, 1999

The Homeless Stars

“I am hand & glove with all sorts of Fanciers,
Spital-field weavers & all sorts of odd specimens
of the Human species, who fancy Pigeons”
– Charles Darwin

I walk on in to a workplace
I'll tell you about, through
streets from which the sense
of ease, cheerfulness, & spontaneity
is vanishing. Or is it me?
      Well, winter is getting here.
A cold breeze swells beneath a
moving blue & black leopardskin
sky, portentous of snow.
      I find the keys, enter
the back way, grab a sackful
of fish fillets from the freezer,
& lay them out on an oven tray.
      Professionally cheering up,
I flip on the Arbus-eyed monitor
& set up for the night, putting
out the hopeful stack of white towels.
      Marisol Rosaura is shivering
at the door. I click her in, followed
by Kasper Hauser*, rowdy old Micajah Harpe**
& a few of the boys from Burgess Shale***
Camp on the river.
      About a baker's dozen tonight;
plenty of fish to go around. Set out
with loaves, supper commences.
      Set the television low, & absorb
talk from the soylent couch as I tend
to duties…overheard how in the sky,
faint stars are crushed like roses in
a bible, into black holes. They say
that frogs, with their sensitive skins,
are disappearing all over the world…
      Impose a little order on the closet.
Rich will do this Augean thing in there,
come Saturday.
      Review Rich's log entries. I've
come to appreciate his style.
      Jerry has somehow retrieved Marisol's
lost luggage. She's pleased, & avers that
Jerry owns & operates a heart of gold.
There is some evidence for this.
      Marisol is working, so we hold her bed.
      I'll try & interview Micajah tonight.
      Jeff taught me the armature of this job:
to hold out a firm welcoming hand.
      Called in, I'm learning the mission:
to actually implement their Christs' social
teachings with compassionate diligence.
      Human or alien warmth passed hand to
hand in St. Anthony's Haven, mens' & womens'
shelter, on a street of Scranton,
down here far below the gridlocked traffic
of the homeless stars.

* * *

* See: Werner Herzog's film Every Man for Himself and God Against All: The Enigma of Kasper Hauser.

** Harpe, William Micajah (aka Big), older of two murderous homeless brothers on the Barren River. He was beheaded by a posse in 1799.

*** See: Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and The Nature of History, by Stephen Jay Gould.

(Marisol, Micajah, & Kasper are changed names for real presences. Jerry, Jeff & Rich you know. I am)