Writing Through Hard Times

The Hard Times Writing Workshop is a collaboration between Denver Public Library and Lighthouse Writers Workshop. The workshop is open to all members of the public—especially those experiencing homelessness. Each month, the Denver VOICE will publish a selection of the voices of Hard Times.

Hard Times meets every Tuesday afternoon from 3:00-5:00 in the book club room of DPL’s Central branch. To check out more writing by Hard Times participants, go to writedenver.org.


Saif Suhail


My mother finishes her prayer, and starts muttering a long list of invocations.

She leaves her hands hanging in the air, over the prayer rug, before she goes out of the house, and comes to visit us in the cemetery.

A full pot of rice she brings with her, puts it before the headstone, and says: “This is for you and your friends, son.” She knows that the corpse is merely a combination of individuals and things sticking together: legs; arms; screw; tongue; half handbag; stomach within potato…etc.

It is an unreasoning structure of car bomb reasoning.

We were inside the blast weeping…

Remembering our friendship and weeping/Die we could on a quiet bed.

My upper half embraces your amputated leg:

No surgeon can separate a sticking mouth from knee; there is no doctor would be able to remove the dream out of a gouged eye or to dress a dream that’s been hit by lethal shrapnel…

Maybe this was a joke carried out by a sudden disappearance! The evidence is weak, and the only proof of our conviction has been swept away, with other debris, by the municipality.

We were inside the storm, being blown up twice, and recalling that we had been torn up, outside the blast, twice.

So we would say: Thanks…to the fire that talks on behalf of our name;

Would say: Thanks…to everyone who remembers us by projectile or bomb or explosive belt;

We would say: Praise…for everyone who cuts a mother’s heart into pieces, lusting for heavenly vagina!

We recall how we cut the bread into two halves:

A fresh half for sparrows;

And another crusty half, we do share with the blast, by two halves.

This is a tale of halves that begins with one half and ends with another.

We were inside the pain, being torn up and recalling our sparrows’ halves: a beak sticking with a feather, and 

Weeping our friends.


Fran Ford

Moon Shy

The moon shrinks,


sinks down among the alley shadows,

hides away her secret face

from the owl in the backyard oak,

the yearning cat by the hedge below,

and the earth-bound longing of the sunflower seed

buried behind a shady Dumpster,


full of darkness. 


Heather Maes


Here I go again. I’m all by myself with the urge. I got to have it, like a person who needs water after being in the dry desert after a hike. That urge that takes away a clean soul. God, please help me as I cry out loud “this will be the last time!” As I make this my last broken promise. Take this habit away from me. The urge itself is a storm moving

In with dark clouds, loud thunder, and strikes of lightning.  Do I really need this fix of uncontrollable drugs and alcohol?  This addiction might just take hold of a clean-hearted soul.  A huge monster the mind produced, a broken mirror to be looked at least a thousand times. A devil that has taken precious  relationships that god gave me only for them to disintegrate into a witch’s brew and boiling water.  Will I ever learn?  How will I ever have a life? 

Then, just as the storm goes away, a small bit of light appears. That’s my hope. What will I do with it?  Will classes, meetings, and the small spark of the will to go on keep me going?  I thank god that I have made one more start and the mirror now stands unbroken with a new soul instead of a coffin filled with dirt and rusty nails.