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.


Giuliana Brunner


Am I being kind?


When YOU a stranger needs help (not the injury or emergency type of help of course)


I am tired


in a hurry


really don’t want to . . . 


Yet, want to ensure 

regret and guilt

don’t drown the rest of my day?


Am I being kind?

When I smile and say “hi”


immediately wondering why I did so

as there is a risk in this simple greeting— “Hi”

it may open the floodgates—it may open your desire to fill the space,

all the space, so much space

with all the minute details of your daily agenda for 

the week, the day, the month, the minutes

or other surface level grumblings never getting to the nitty gritty of anything?


Are you being kind by doing so?


Was I being kind

handing out wool gloves and hats during an icy winter day to those few sleeping on the warm grates near the office —  

or was I simply

not wanting regret and guilt

to drown my day, week, minutes, month, or year?

As I know once the idea of giving, helping, doing for another rises

It cannot be erased


Are you being kind when you ask how I am? /// You?  expecting only the “fine, thank you” in return

not truly wanting to know anymore than those words, not wanting your space filled with other than those three words . . . 


as you’re tired and in a hurry and really don’t want to know.


Michael Sindler

The Road to Compassion

Before you can discover compassion, you must step away from comfort. You must drain the moat, lift the gates of the fort. You must sweep the path of branches and leaves to make it welcoming for the unforeseen sojourner. You must shed, snake-like, exposing self to get the feel of another skin. You must stand or dance drenched in rain barefoot on sharp stones to feel the pain you know to be the traveler’s burden.


You have to take the hurt in to release it with an anguished, silent screaming breath to know the sorrow of a stranger’s struggle or a loved one’s death, to not let a blanket, warm with your own heat, become little more than a shroud, a winding sheet under which you are but some kind of ghost unable to be a welcoming host to those lost and injured, blind, dumb, crippled, and needy souls that come onto your path and walk or crawl beside you and make you think that you deserve more than others sharing this path, this road, this planet we call Earth. Prepare that road.


Lyric Saint James



Let tonight be my last night in the shelter

Tomorrow when I wake

Let me cook in my kitchen

Use my bathroom

No bugs in my bed

Let tonight

Be the last night in the shelter


This is my prayer