Homeless Memorials

Midshipmen of the Heart

There was no childhood then.
Sixteen years old, or younger, once on deck
you ate what you got and drank
what you could get;
you worked, you sweat or froze,
took the cursing, took the lash
like any man.

There is no childhood now. Once on the street
you're not just equal game; the guns
prefer the younger targets.
The lash of tongue and eye no colder,
concrete walls
as barren one side as the other.

Hair flying self-chosen colors,
medals riveted
to lip and nose, tongue and ear,
some scars and tattoos showing,
many not,
choosing their own crew;

where do they sail?
What office
will they fill?

Charles Anthony "Jello" Kueck died at 27. He was homeless since 15, the last five years mostly in Seattle, where he helped many younger kids out on the street. This was written after Jello's memorial service at Peace for the Streets by Kids from the Streets, July 21, 2001.

— memorial poem by Anitra Freeman

Homeless Memorials