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,
as barren one side as the other.
Hair flying self-chosen colors,
to lip and nose, tongue and ear,
some scars and tattoos showing,
choosing their own crew;
where do they sail?
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.