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People On the Pier

January 20, 2018



Leading up to the release of Not So Simple (2/23), I am going to share a poem each Friday that highlights an aspect of homelessness.  


The theme for this week is hope. 



Page 47 from Not So Simple: Observations on Poverty and People 



“People on the Pier”



The gates of Ventura’s pier finally reopened

El Niño gave it a good shot

But like any seasoned fighter

It took its punches

and continued to stand tall


I walk the half-mile stretch of downtown’s backyard

Listening to the lull of the waves

Until chatter from the fishermen

Reel me in

I could annihilate a 6x6 with animal fries

Standing there

Tall and slender

He looks in need of a hearty meal

But his words were wishful


I’m ready to eat!

Remarks his friend

Ready, yet like his buddy

Hopeful but helpless


For the two of them

The dreams of

In-N-Out might as well

Be pie in the sky


Their longing for food makes fishing

Much more important,

Maybe even essential

for survival


The fish don’t bite that night

and the wind isn’t the only cold hard truth

That begins to settle in


- - -


Walking around towns and cities without headphones taught me to listen and be present to the people around me.  I heard the conversation from “People on the Pier” in the spring of 2016. 


For people who have seen their share of bad luck, this notion that something good may happen, that things could turn around, has surprised me the most when engaging with the homeless in my community.   Despair isn’t the only emotion out there- optimism has a pulse for some on the streets.


Although I didn’t strike a conversation with these two men, I’ve met countless individuals and small groups of people over the past three years who have hope.   


For those who continuously hang in there, barely able to get by, this stood out to me.  I wouldn’t necessarily call these individuals happy, but they were certainly hopeful. 


Reality promises nothing.  There’s no guarantee tomorrow will be better; yet the strength of the human spirit, the resiliency of the psyche of some men and women, proved how powerful positivity can be- especially in the face of despair.

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