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Wishes for Homeless People

August 4, 2021

Weather Wishes

by Alice Jane-Marie Massa

                As you have grown older, have your weather wishes changed?  In recent years, I more prefer a temperature around 72.5 degrees–not the much hotter weather that I once would have selected as my favorite.  What are your weather wishes?  Last Wednesday night into Thursday morning, my weather wish was that the predictions for extremely high winds would not materialize to turn my container garden topsy-turvy.  After listening to all the predictions for turbulent weather, I moved my containers to the safest locations possible and hoped for the best. 

                For the first time since an i-phone became a part of my life two years ago, the alarm for a tornado warning sounded–certainly loudly enough that it would have awakened me if I had been sleeping at 1:32 on that morning.  A couple of minutes later, I heard the alarm go off at the radio station.  Then, for only about the fifth time in the three decades that I have lived in Milwaukee, I heard the tornado siren that, when necessary, blares repeatedly outdoors.  Although a dozen tornados were officially determined later in Wisconsin, my neighbors and I were once again protected by Lake Michigan, according to the belief of some.  Actually, our weather event gratefully fizzled out with little wind, very little rain, and minimal thunder.  Nevertheless, while my Leader Dog Willow and I were indoors and safe from the eventual mild storm in our immediate area, what about the homeless people?

                In 1979, I still had some usable vision.  On a bus tour of the New England states, I, in Boston, saw for the first time–to my knowledge–a homeless person.  Somehow the working parts of my retina picked up the glimpse of the sleeping homeless man and his suitcase on a bench, located in the island of a boulevard.  That picture has stayed in the photo album of my mind.

                Perhaps, during the extremes of weather–extremely cold, extremely hot, downpours of rain, blizzards, tornadoes–we think of how homeless people contend with the extremes of weather.  On April 22, during National Poetry Month, I wrote the following poem which I am sharing on WORDWALK for the first time.

* * *

Wishes for a Homeless Person

poem by Alice Jane-Marie Massa

Behind the Cathedral of St. John,

right on the edge of the sidewalk

along the busy VanBuren Street

is a most unusual monument–

a monument of a homeless person

lying on a bench and

covered by a cement newspaper.

I wish that all of the money

that went into the making of this monument

would have gone to a soup kitchen.

I do wonder what the homeless residents

think of this statue in repose.

I find it inappropriate.

I do wish all the homeless people in Milwaukee

Could find peace and shelter.

For what do they wish?

Does he wish to be out of the cold,

not on the streets growing too quickly too old?

Does she wish to be away from the dampness, out of the rain?

Does she wonder what else her life could contain?

Does he wish to be drunk or wish to be sober?

Does he sometimes wish his life were over?

Does she too often dream of a well-rounded meal?

Is she here and there tempted to steal?

Do you always wish for a better tomorrow?

Please let us know how we can lessen your sorrow,

how we can make one wish come true.

I heard you once played a saxophone,

then sold the instrument for a cellular phone.

Whom do you call when you are here all alone?

Be kind, stay well, and give me your wishes.

* * *

With wishes for gentle measures of the weather we need and homes for all,

Alice and Leader Dog Willow

August 4, 2021, Wednesday


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  1. Susan Mckendryg permalink

    Alice–This “monument” is so inappropriate and I wonder who is responsible. Who supplied the funds? As you pointed out, that money could have been used to actually help homeless people. The images of homeless people in your poignant poem show how diverse this group is. The one thing they share is that they, like us, are human beings. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and the accompanying poem.

  2. mfanyo permalink

    Thanks for your thought-provoking poem about the homeless people, Alice. My heart is broken to think of their plight. You brought their sad situation to our attention with warm and sympathetic words.
    With appreciation and love,

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