Just One Picture of Homelessness

What is your picture of homelessness?

(Picture of homelessness) The walls of my house are made of the many shades of yellow and green. My clothes are not neatly folded or hung in a closet but thrown about my room that has an airy but eerie bright view into the world that encircles me. I have many tiny acquaintances that visit me night and day. Never waiting to be invited but gladly crawling into my space. They live in my walls and other neighboring homes. They do not look like me but they are unique in their own right. Just as I am unique to the well-dressed people who stroll by as I lay in my shabby although beautifully colored home.

As I lift my hand to block the bright sunlight from my famished eyes, I notice the well-dressed people are staring at me again. 

Then I remembered…I remembered… I didn’t always have this special home.

Now I remember. The illiteracy.  The shame and disappointment but a plan put in place. The adventures of living well came with such excitement but faded so quickly. Where was the confidence, the drive, the ambition? The late night studies of 1st and 2nd-grade vocabulary. Why couldn’t I comprehend? Some said it was dyslexia. Some said it was stupidity. Some said I was mental. 

How difficult could it be? It proved to be overwhelming but feeling nothing was impossible. Keep pressing on I say and do. I try and I try. Only to be destitute…living in this special place with the well-dressed people staring at me. 

What is your picture of homelessness?

© 2016 All words & images by Tanya Graham unless otherwise noted.

The Move (Blog – Part 2)

The shingles continue to hang from the roof and the pale yellow color of the house continues to fade in the hot sun, time does not stop. I finally finished a busy day at our convenience store which is just about 2 minutes away from our new residence. As I approach, I cannot help but continue to stare at the overgrown weeds that occupy a vacant lot that sits next door to our fixer-upper. On the other side of the vacant lot, a white family lives in a newly built home with a country style porch, a cute german shepherd, and a picket fence surrounding the home.

(I will be mentioning race, lifestyles, and beliefs throughout my post to show as I write that diversity in a neighborhood comes both positive and negative with many learning experiences.)

The overgrown weeds are reminding me that this neighborhood has been neglected. The people that once lived here and the few that still remain from the years past has in some circumstance…some thought process…in some spoken way  neglected the community.

The reasons for the lack of care are not always known although the excuses come both distressing and at times understandably reasonable.

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Overgrown Lot of the Missing Owner (Photo by Tanya Graham)

As I move items from our car to the house, I notice a familiar face. A face that makes me uneasy. Here comes Paul (not sure if that is his real name or not) but that is what we call him at the store. That or either Preacher Man. He is a frequent store customer who has been homeless and an active addict for over twenty years and frankly he doesn’t care to change his living status. Paul is a slim black man maybe in his 70’s. He walks with a consistent odor; mix-match clothes; and sluggish walk of feet dragging. His unkempt  gray and black hair always lives under some type of hat at least 90% of the time. Nothing about him is shy or meek. He is outspoken and doesn’t care what he says at any time. His conversation has often embarrassed me as we take orders from customers visiting outside of the so-called “hood”.

My thoughts “Oh my God. He knows where I live!”

Paul’s first question while standing outside our house goes like this “Did ya’ll buy this house for me?!” He is yelling as if we are two blocks away instead of right in front of him. My husband and I looked at him with a slight grin of amusement and terror all mixed together.

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Our Friend Paul (Photo by Tanya Graham)

To read more about THE MOVE please follow my blog. Don’t forget to go back and read my first blog on THE MOVE.

The Move (Original Post)

© 2016 All words & images by Tanya Graham unless otherwise noted.

 

Living Purposeless

I remember when I thought your way was the best way. 

Dreams hidden deep inside.

Lost to the reason of my existence.

Instead metamorphosing into a stranger.

A stranger living inside me.

A stranger marrying a stranger.

A stranger raising strange kids.

Doing strange things thinking it was the way.

 

A stranger losing purpose of life in the illusion of the American dream.

White picket fence and college degree delusions of happiness but strange emptiness instead. 

Reason of existence muffled by the world of look-a-likes and act-a-likes. 

“I remember when I thought your way was the best way.”

© 2016 All words & images by Tanya Graham unless otherwise noted.

Our Daughters

She is a beautiful vivid flower that requires blooming.

She stands out in the box of closed minds.

She withers in the presence of weeds that smother her roots and stunts her growth.

The soil that is to nurture her is filled with foreign unfamiliar objects that her young roots do not understand.

But she continues to struggle to survive in a world of strangely shaped weeds that impersonate flowers and introduces her to roads and travels, taking her to a place that dims her true potential.

She no longer has the covering that protected her as a seedling. As seedlings are very delicate and wrong conditions can ruin them.

She is stubborn to receive direction from the white haired elder that has been placed strategically beside her.

Sometimes she has trouble deciphering the elder with its peculiar appearance from the strangely shaped weeds. She finds this elder strange in voice and appearance. The elder does not look like the young flower so the elder’s words of wisdom go unheard.

The closed minded weeds are convincing and assertive. Their goal to drain the crimson color from her life so they can feel superior because now her glorious color has dimmed, and all living in the box look and act the same.

The white haired elder knows that time is running out so she does not give up reaching out to touch the very tip of this young flower fighting to be independent but different than the weeds that try to confine her.

© 2016 All words & images by Tanya Graham unless otherwise noted.

Can I Come Up…

Can I come up to the place that keeps you sane?

Where the wind blows all your cares away.

Where the freedom pushes you to soar in the universe of opportunities.

Where the clouds impersonate your long lost imaginary friends.

Where the beautiful blue sky takes you into a day dream filled with miracles that energizes all your senses.

Where the squirrels frolic freely without a sense of death.

Where the birds gaze down on the Earth walkers with sympathy.

Where my eyes and heart can see all the possibilities.

Where the world looks smaller than our problems.

-Climbing to the Treetop

© 2016 All words & images by Tanya Graham unless otherwise noted.

Treetop

Spirit and Soul

1Spirit to SpiritI love taking pictures of beautiful places and things. This one is a beautiful church in Atlanta GA. I used this picture for this particular poem because we often attend places of worship to bring balance to the turmoil that churns inside us. 

© 2016 All words & images by Tanya Graham unless otherwise noted.