If We’re In Purgatory…



She walked right through me
as though I was never there.
I was standing on the corner
and as invisible as the air.

I was lying on a bench
and he sat right in my lap.
He never heard my protest
as he disturbed me at my nap.

Every day we walk the streets;
mere ghosts that fade away
We are the unseen; the forgotten.
If we’re in purgatory, must we stay?

Written by,

Shelby I. Courtland

©2015 Shelby I. Courtland

Must they stay? Apparently so! Because we have done nothing to staunch the flow of people who are headed straight out on the mean streets of every city in America. We may as well sit on them and knock them down because they are just as ghostlike as if they aren’t there. We’ve gone so far beyond merely looking away from them to the point where we have no problem when laws are passed to continuously make it harder for them to survive homelessness. Can you even wrap your head around that word, HOMELESSNESS? Can you? Homelessness means “without a home, without shelter, without a place to LIVE. Do you get that? How can you LIVE if you have no place to LIVE? Oh, my bad! That IS the point! They are not supposed to live. Why should they? It’s their fault, right? Well, isn’t it? They drank too much. They are drug addicts. They are the scary mentally ill. Newsflash! They are the VICTIMS of an economic crisis of epic proportions that forced many people out on the streets. There is no ‘recovery’. Recovery? What the hell is that? It damn sure couldn’t be a game because that’s called ‘Operation’, so where is the goddamn ‘recovery’ at for these people? Damn it all to hell! I wrote this poem because I’ve just returned home and it’s colder than a motherfucker out there! How anybody is surviving in that shit, I don’t fucking know! For the love of …….!!!!!!

When The Streets Are Home

streets are home

When the streets are home,
you have no bed, you have no pillow.
When the streets are home,
you cry along with the weeping willow.

When the streets are home,
dawn or dusk; there is no difference.
When the streets are home,
you pray for deliverance.

When the streets are home,
you’re not alive; you’re dead inside.
When the streets are home,
from prying eyes, you cannot hide.

When the streets are home,
your every fear must be faced.
When the streets are home,
who you were has been erased.

When the streets are home,
you fight to survive each and every day.
When the streets are home,
everywhere you go, you’re turned away.

When the streets are home,
you’re invisible, unloved and unknown.
When the streets are home,
you’re surrounded and yet, so alone.

Written by,
Shelby I. Courtland
©2014 Shelby I. Courtland

“The Peace Of Being Alone”

key to home

Wrap me in your warmth
And shield me from the cold.
A blanket would be nice.
It is worth its weight in gold.

A pair of shoes, I am in need,
but I won’t hold my breath.
‘twould be too much to ask
of those who have the wealth.

Need I hold out hope,
for a home to call my own.
A roof to hide the stars,
and the peace of being alone.

Written by,
Shelby I. Courtland
© 2013 Shelby I. Courtland

There is a difference in being lonely and being alone. The homeless are never alone, even out in the streets as there are always people passing by. They are lonely because they are shunned due to the loss of their identity. Our identity is also defined by our address and when we have none, we are never alone. If they are in shelters, there is never any peace and if they are on the streets, they are harassed. Again, no peace. This Christmas, think about how you would feel if, when you left your job, or went shopping, there was no ‘address’ for you to return to, no familiar personal belongings left untouched because they are behind lock and key and you are not toting them around with you; exposed for all to see, just as the homeless are, exposed and yet, invisible. Can you just imagine what it would feel like to a homeless person, who after 20 years of homelessness, turn a key in their very own lock, enter their ‘home’ and for the first time in years, experience the ‘peace of being alone’? Think about it!

Am I Not Human?

Someone, please tell me just what did I do wrong?
For a little change, I will sing to you a song.

I will entertain u

As I sit here wracked with guilt, this sign does say it all.
I served my country well and yes, I took a fall.
Foreclosure they did call it, when they said I had to leave.
Dazed and bewildered, I had no time to grieve.

homeless vet

I walk the streets alone. My life is now pure hell.
No one even cares that I’m huddled in my shell.

up against the wall

Look at how you live, enjoying happy hour.
Pockets bulged with credit cards. Yes, you have the power.
Sit back, enjoy your life and give no thought to me.
I must not be human since my plight you never see.

happy hour

I heard these words so long ago, what do they mean today?
“What goes up, must come down.” You, too have ‘feet of clay’.
Will you be the next to have your world crash and burn?
And wonder how your life, did take an awful turn.
I dedicate a song to you and hope you’ll never find,
A world that hates the sight of you and where people are unkind.


Written by,

Shelby I. Courtland

© 2013 Shelby I. Courtland

Feet of the Homeless


I could really use a new pair of shoes.
and though there’s not much left to lose,
these shoes have had it and that’s no lie.
I pack em and stuff em. I really do try.

Maybe, I’ll get lucky and find a new pair.
It’s enough to make people just stop and stare.
I’ve no money and that’s a fact.
I can beg all day and they think it’s an act.

They walk past me and see I’m in need.
They look the other way, paying me no heed.
I look at them and I actually pray.
I hope your perfect life will stay that way.

Don’t go to war and become a homeless vet.
Never take a drink and please don’t place a bet.
If you ever feel blue, keep it hidden inside.
They’ll use it against you if you dare to confide.
You’ll be scorned and ridiculed and judged all day.
You’ll be needing new shoes when they send you on your way.

Written by,

Shelby I. Courtland

© 2013 All rights reserved.