Is It All Coming Together?

by on April 18, 2016 · 3 comments

in Civil Rights, Culture, Economy, History, Homelessness, Politics, San Diego

homeless tiny homesBy Jeeni Criscenzo

Is it all coming together,
or all falling apart?
I can’t tell anymore.
I came with love,
but can’t find your heart.

I tried to explain how we could help get people off their streets,
by providing basic shelter in supportive communities.
We’d carefully thought out the plan,
Laid it out for them in ways they could understand,
how this would make life better for everyone.

But they came armed with one practiced phrase:
“Not in my backyard!”

Can it all come together?
Or is it already falling apart?
It’s impossible to tell
When we say we want peace,
but we’re fighting an uphill battle from the start.

I tried to explain that waging war in places
most of us can’t even find on a map,
makes us the terrorists.
It makes no sense spending our taxes on wag-the-dog wars,
when we don’t even have the money to help our own poor.

But they came armed with one practiced phrase:
“We have to fight them over there, or they will come kill us here.”

I had hoped it was coming together
But lately it seems like it’s all falling apart.
We need to enlighten the masses,
but every step we take,
seems to be leading us deeper into the dark.

We old ones are grinning ear to ear
seeing so many young ones signing up
to support a candidate who dares to defy the powerful.
Who actually voted against war,
and wants to break up the banks.

But their path is a minefield of Citizens United,
and voter suppression,
and media blackouts,
And there isn’t enough time,
to teach them how to maneuver around these traps.

I’m afraid it’s finally all falling apart.
Maybe we are that battalion, incommunicado,
who didn’t get the memo that the war is already lost.
So we’re still all geared up for battle,
determined to hold back the opposition, at all costs.

It’s clearly falling apart,
when they keep on talking about building more stadiums,
for games that destroy brains
for teams that play more games in meetings than on the field,
connivers who draw renderings of convadiums
right over the blue-tarp edged sidewalks that hundreds call home.
Over encampments even Google’s Street View can’t photoshop out.
They try to make them disappear with sweeps,
Then try to hide the sweeps, by calling them “abatements”
because we can’t have that trash lying about
when we bring Chinese investors to buy up downtown’s vacant lots.

I’m nearly resigned that it’s all falling apart,
hope is melting faster than the Arctic,
fire comes from faucets,
the police are gunning down mother’s dark skinned boys,
we marvel at sunsets over dying oceans,
frankenstein fish and seeds are unleashed,
the meanest man in the world is damn close to buying the U.S. presidency
and I got a letter from Social Security that says there was no increase in the cost of living
the same day my rent went up one hundred bucks.

But just maybe it could still come together,
Bit by bit,
if we arm ourselves with this practiced thought:
This much we can do,
not alone,
but with all of you.
Refuse to pay for their wars.
Refuse to engage in their hatred and bigotry.
Refuse to buy into relentless consumerism.
Refuse to ignore the plight of human beings living on our streets.
Today we are those soldiers charging away from battles we didn’t choose,
into the fray of humanity.
Today we are commies, hippies, occupiers, feeders, tree-huggers, sisters and brothers,
and all that is magnificent about being human.
And that feels a bit like it might,
like it could,
like maybe it will,
after all,
come together.

Jeeni Criscenzo performed this poem on Friday, April 15, 2016, 11:30 am, at the San Diego Public Library, while she accepted a grant for Amikas from the Southern California War Tax Alternative Fund.

Be sure to stop by the Amikas exhibit at Earth Fair (Sunday, April 17, at exhibit #788 in the Pan American Plaza North in Balboa Park) to see a demonstration of how easy it is to assemble the I-Wood Tiny Shelters we hope to use in micro-communities throughout San Diego, providing emergency shelter for homeless women and children.

Originally published at San Diego Free Press.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Denine April 18, 2016 at 12:33 pm

Right On Sister!


Carol Huntsman April 18, 2016 at 3:09 pm

Thanks Jeeni, for such a powerful writing. Your words again have brought me to tears. Your message is “right on”. You have such a gift for words.


Jeeni Criscenzo April 20, 2016 at 5:33 pm

Thanks Carol. I will be performing this poem twice on Saturday, Apr. 23rd. 4:45 at the Green Store 27th Anniversary, OB and later at The Grassroots Oasis, 3130 Moore Street, San Diego 92110 for The Muse and the Mayor.


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