Homeless in Seattle

Labor Day dreams for meaningful work and safe shelter;
I Have a Dream (Then and Now);
Sarah (Plain and Tall) Palin

Homeless in Seattle
Labor Day dreams for meaningful work and safe shelter.

Their lives are INTENSE. They are stressful and full.
They dream of a dwelling. They strive for that goal.
They want independence, a place of their own
a job with insurance, a laptop, a phone.

Like others before them, they do what they can
to take steps toward freedom though few understand.
They’ve been labeled losers because of their plight
of pitching a tent so to sleep every night.

Without all the comforts we claim we have earned,
they comfort themselves with the lessons they’ve learned
in prison, in rehab or bankruptcy court,
in some skid row mission or place of that sort.

They’re proud they are working and making a wage
convinced they’ll emerge from their homelessness stage.
Nomadic by nature? You kidding? Heck no!
Without a Tent City there’s no where to go.

The pages of history record those like them
who lost home and family then gained them again
by stumbling forward a day at a time.
A mountain too steep proved a doable climb.

When fleeing from Pharaoh, God’s people survived
in shelters of goat skin. Their hopes still deprived.
But camped in the desert, they dreamed of a home.
A land they’d been promised that would be their own.

Those hide-covered wagons aimed toward Or-e-gon
contained homeless women, their children, their men.
These pioneers braved more than rain, wind and drought.
They proved they were worthy without polished clout.

Remember the Dust Bowl and those who moved west?
They traveled in “families” to weather the test.
Discouraged yet hopeful, they camped on the way.
Their faith grew through trials. They learned how to pray.

Those Hoover-ville hobos were hungry each dawn.
Their “world” in their knapsack, they somehow went on.
In league with each other and warmed by a fire,
they swallowed their pride and renewed their desire.

So why all the protests ’bout cities of tents?
The people who dwell there are people. Right? Hence,
they’re friends we’ve not met yet who have much to teach.
They’re streetwise and winsome with well-crafted speech.

Let’s offer compassion to these unlike us
who don’t own a car but rely on a bus.
Let’s come to a place where we really can see
that people in tents are still like you and me.

Their lives are IN TENTS. They are stressful but full
just knowing that others can see them as souls.
And we are those others whom God wants to use
to live out the Gospel, to flesh out “Good News.”

The author is the current president of the Mercer Island Clergy Association that invited TENT CITY 4 (the controversial homeless encampment) to spend three months in their suburban Seattle community. The poem was written in response to the vocal opposition of neighbors who live in one of the most affluent zipcodes in North America.

I Have a Dream (Then and Now)
We’ve come a long way in forty-five years.

“I have a dream,” a black man said.
But in five years that man was dead.
His dream of love was trampled by
the hateful mares of night.

And in the morning justice cried
because the dream had been denied.
A monster known as prejudice
still stalked our city streets.

In time we came to understand
the truth of what our Maker planned.
The content of our character
is really color blind.

And now another black man dreams
before a crowd and spotlight beams.
The words he speaks recall a day
way back in ’63.

Twas forty-five long years ago.
Obama was but two years old.
Yet as he grew he understood
that dream was meant for him.

This black man with his White House dreams
claims Martin’s mantle (so it seems).
Or is it just celebrity?
In nine weeks time we’ll know.

Sarah (Plain and Tall) Palin
What I know about this unknown candidate.

Juneau Sarah? I’ll ask around.
Some say she’s plain and tall.
Palin’s plain on when life starts,
stands tall when “old boys” fall.

There is no doubt. She is pro-life.
When tempted to abort
because her baby boy was Down’s,
Sarah was plain and short.

“Don’t dare suggest I end his life.
God gave this child to me.
In spite of special needs he has,
he has the right to be.”

This hockey mom with nerves of ice
knows how to use her stick.
She won’t just skate around a rink.
Corruption makes her sick.

Yes, Sarah holds her head up high
and pales compared to some.
This model of integrity
won’t blush from what she’s done.

Idita-Todd stands by her side.
A snow machine macho
who knows the North Slope,
trolls the sea and hunts like Eskimos.

This wife and mother understands
the pressures of our home.
The stress we feel in Omaha,
Des Moines, St. Pete and Nome.

But what about the other House?
That White one in D.C.?
Is she equipped for that chaos?
I hope we get to see.

“A sourdough, Sarah’s well-bred,”
her mom and daddy boast.
But listen to her critics’ chant,
“‘Gainst Biden she’ll be toast!”

But don’t go serving breakfast yet.
Barack likes eggs and ham.
And Biden waffles with the best.
The yolk may be on them.