Sunday, March 6, 2011

see what blooms in deserted land....a tribute to the Hospitality House in Asheville, NC (sorely missed)

In Asheville, NC there is a place.  It is called the Hospitality House of Asheville.  In 2001, the A Hope center allowed a group of writers to facilitate two-hour writing workshops with the residents.  Some homeless, some just drifting through--Asheville is a destination for all sorts of wanderers...just one of the reasons I could not love that city more.  Nearly every Saturday, you might see one hundred drummers or more in a massive Drum Circle in Pritchard park.  A good quarter of them are travelers.

I came into the program after it had begun.  It was begun with performance poet Glenis Redmond (a treasure through and through), singer/songwriter Billy Jonas.  Others came to participate:  poet/songwriter David LaMotte and playwright (and so many other things--a book would have to be written to talk about what this man has done with his time here on terra firma) Jonathon Flaum.  They published a chap book, sold by the magnificent Independent bookstore Malaprops, called "Shouts and Whispers; Visions and Remembrances."  What follows are some pieces from the book...I came in the latter part of  2001.  While I was involved (for about a year and a half) I helped facilitate with Jonathan and an amazing writer Arenda Manning.  It was one of the most profound times of my life.  It is my hope that you support  It is a disgrace they way we treat those who live under bridges, inside boxes, on park benches and desolate patches.

First piece...a true laser--unafraid and pointed....

"To Those Who Judge"
Looking at us so unkind
Judging us like we carry parasites inside

Pointing and mocking us from far away,
Offering not even a hand to shake

Saying you want us to hide away from your streets
Covering your children's eyes
So they cannot peep

Coming only to our mission chapels
So you can brag to your friends
Five minutes and you've already judged us
As whores, addicts, and convicts in tents.

You could only understand
If you followed our tracks of life in the mud
If only you realized we all carry the same blood

You judge the prostitute
who works the corner to keep her child alive
The old hermit who carves pipes
And the new age runaway
Saying they're going to burn in Hell, 
Yet for this you have judged as hypocrites
Despite all your crosses and bells.

You sit in your air-conditioned offices 
As we sweat outside
Some of us even hear your lies
Remember to yourself be true
Someday the very same thing may happen to you.

Ben Sprague  
Spring 2001

One more to whet your whistle--this one is best if you read it aloud--that's where you get the rhythm


Here I go once again looking for a new destination.
I don't have to know this, so there isn't any hesitation.
I look out the window and see all sorts of frontiers
My foot will step up on this land without any fears
No family, just myself I bring into this nirvana
I've got the courage and the strength to make my new quarters
On this ride there are many stops, but I don't choose just yet,
For I want this place to be full of joy so hopefully there is no regret
The sun shines upon my face and I feel so subtle and free
I trust this place will have nice folks and the cops will leave me be
I tend to myself, don't bother a soul
That's how I've always been
And I hope this town will welcome a stranger,
That's the message I want sent.

"Johnsica" (written in a 20 minute writing exercise: Topic: A Journey)
July 2001

This is my personal favorite...

Hershey Bar

Standing in the Hot Spot, 
Looking for love.
I've got a lot of company
It's three am, a weeknight, cold.
The sun's love has left us
Yearning for warmth, light, freedom.
I am bundled up 
To protect myself
From the hostile air.
I walk to Hot Spot,
Hood up, scarf muffled,
Gloves too tight,
No boots, just slick sneakers
Without tread.
Winter is sucking me down,
I am drowning in dark cold.
Other are here,
Buying beer, cigarettes, a warm body.
We're all looking for a replacement for
The lost warmth, the heat of caresses,
The comfort of arms.
I'm an addict,
Just like the rest.
I cruise the candy aisle,
Look at the Hershey bars.
Pure orgasmic chocolate
That will--for the moment
Blot the pain, 
Warm me,
Enfold me propitious chemicals.
We're all lonely here,
Like the Edward Hopper painting,
Drawn to the light, the heat, the wakefulness
Of an all night hot spot.

Anne Dachowski
15 minute writing exercise:  "A Hershey Bar"  
July 2001

People who are invisible are people too.  Don't avert your eyes....extend your hand.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this wonderful reminder. sending love, Jonathon