Darryl Lorenzo Wellington

Chill in October

Not for Moses and his people. Not for the Red Sea
     Nor the tragedy of a miraculous success.
Not for candy shoppers. Not for snow dreams
     Frosting children’s clothes. Not for gold, myrrh,
Nor certainly filthy lucre. Freshness in the air
     Nor lemony sweets. For homeless wanderers—
Newspapers stuffed in New York shoes. Odd-job animals
     Sainted by the very cherubs least able to camp beneath
Christ’s canopied rainbow. For the tropical man stunned by it
     Who hugs himself for lack of companions. Not for bells—
A colorless sensation flares like light.

Moon Dust

Hour of moon
dust, taking
hold of the ocean,

the sea swell.
Hour the great impregnable orb
cuts its vein. Its emotional
crisis raking surf,

shore, shadow, look, beachcombing lovers.

Hour of moon dust.
Not moonlight

 but les liaisons dangereuses 

like a razorblade’s threat,
like a reaper’s scythe
drawing from the earth
the loneliest, lightest backlash,
stitching, unstitching, leaving the shore
wounded, or infected itself
-- at the hour the moon's a suicide haunted by its own victim--
breathes, and bleeds.

Peace of Mind: An Envoi

    -- home,
    go back.
There will be people home
and they will be alive
with salutations among the living,
bristling sex, energy, body and spirit,
and the cries that trail behind all that jazz.
There were people in your dreams
last night        
and while who can say if they’re bygone
neither were they living.
That will be the difference
between places of peace and welcoming
and a place of the skulls.
Places of peace. And ruin. And the only difference.

Darryl Lorenzo

Occupy Wall Street. Santa Fe. 2012

I don’t see myself as an authority on homelessness, and I have never written poetry directly about homelessness. But since you asked…

      I fell off the chasm for a while in 2012. I was given a notice at my inexpensive apartment because the landlord claimed the place was moldy. I was unable to find a comparably priced apartment. I was unable to orient myself psychologically, or financially. You’ll usually find that among people who have ‘really’ been homeless the experience is blurry. I will say the same for myself: the memory is confusing, blurry and embarrassing. Your mind is so dominated by a feeling of time running out to do something – anything.

    The Occupy Wall street camps were existent at the time. I put my belongings in storage, and lived at an Occupy camp for two months. I was grateful it was there. It lent some sense of order and significance to my suddenly bottomless reality. I arrived during the waning days of the Occupy movement.  The original Occupy encampment in Zuccotti Park in New York had been shut down.  Occupiers were questioning where the movement was going. The camps were being overrun by supposedly less serious occupiers. It’s true that by the time I arrived the camp in Santa Fe was down to about 20 campers, and most were long-time indigents, with alcohol problems, and other issues related to years of indigence.

     It was less an economically diverse Occupy camp than a politicized homeless refuge, by this point. The camps were supposed to be alcohol-free-zones! Let’s say at this point the attitude toward alcohol was permissive. But I never met anyone who was unserious about the movement.

    The camp kept up an extremely efficiently-run kitchen. There was always food. There were interesting conversations. There were communal experiences.

        Everyone understood the goals behind the movement. Many were angry with the middle class Occupiers, angrier with middle class society in general, and believed that the movement had faltered because of class divisions within Occupy. 

   I was in the situation myself long enough to see that the truth about homelessness is that it requires living in – and with – constant fear. I actually didn’t drink much myself while I was at the camp, mainly because I always alert with fear. But I could easily see myself becoming a nervous wreck, if the situation had dragged on. One of the campers summed it up in a nutshell when he told me “Getting a good night's sleep on the streets is hard. Passing out on the streets is easy.” 

     After two months, I moved into an apartment-sharing situation with a new girlfriend, and by splitting the rent we became financially soluble.           

        I don’t know how this may have influenced my poetry, except insofar as my “dark” poems became even darker.