News Poetry: Homeless at 7th and Santa Fe


Black plastic bag, no tote, no backpack
One pair of shoes, no socks, no laces
Plenty of sunshine today, no raincoat
One glove, one cold, bare hand
Toothache, no aspirin
One quarter and three dimes,
No nickels, no ones, no fives
Cracks in the sidewalk, no looking up
Lest he fall and no one will help him


Another man froze to death overnight
on a sidewalk in Boulder. Science says
a gentle way to die, with his old boots on,
homeless on a hard bed. He’d slept out before
and had reason to hope he might wake up
with the sun. Without a down-filled coat
hope had no feathers.


Suffer the cold to come inside. Christ
and Allah never walked hard sidewalks.
Buddha sat under a tree in kinder weather.
There’s no chapter and verse for the lonely,
the scared, the claustrophobe who hates
walls. But their blood cools and organs fade
into a silent unholy night, no star, no wise men.

Karen Douglass has taught writing at Front Range Community College and is a member of The Academy of American Poets and Columbine Poets of Colorado. Her most recent poetry is Two-Gun Lil (212). Visit Karen at


  1. These words seem even more poignant with the freezing weather we have been having lately. The author has a way of observing the scene and making us experience the very issue we don’t want to acknowledge. Thank you, Karen, for your words.

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