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.


Peter Ferrara

Hard Times R Now

Creation of creations, void of void, hard times are at last truly upon me (and countless others). How we choose to interperet individual present experience may very well define our reality. What is subject to interpretation and what is not may…according to our individual (not collective) filters very well determine who and what we ultimately become.

The hardest time is mine, and mine alone, sleeping on concrete now, conveniently swapped from a Colorado prison bunk! Thank you Universe! Thank you Homer Simpson and family! Thank you President Obama! Thank you Harpers Magazine! Thank you elements hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, helium, and all others! Thank you Carl Sagan, Steven Hawking! Luke and Anikin Skywalker, Kaptain Kirk, Ferdinand Magellan.

Too tired to laugh, too scared to cry. Maybe tomorrow, thank you! Almighty Creator of all things, I am not the creator, I am part of the created. Periodic Table of Elements, you are part of manifested language of all creation! No innuendo, not in my backyard, not in my galaxy, maybe yours. Thank you Hollywood!

Breathe because we must; write because we can!


Michael Sindler


At first, he didn’t see her. He only saw her tattoos. He saw the tattoos an artist had drawn on, poking with needle and ink, drawing blood, drawing on experiences and images he wanted known.

But then he saw the tattoos that were not drawn, not added on by another. He saw the tattoos of her life, the tattoos of her pain, the tattoos of aging, of joy and sadness, sanity and madness.

He saw the creases, the cracks, the folds, the scars and distortions from bones broken and not reset with the grace and skill of a physician. Bones left to graft together in uncomfortable and unnatural positions. The tattooed lines from nose to mouth that marked the laughter. The squint lines on the sides of her eyelids from years of hiding from the glare. The fragmented reminders of indentations, caused by careless or by furious, intentional blows. He saw all of those.

He saw a body and a face transformed, worn and beaten, burnished into a speaking, sculpted statement, not intended, but in latent opening and unveiling, revealing truths and hard-won lessons no inked design could state or elaborate upon. Nothing that could improve on the natural telling of herself. Her journey written large, a single picture out of many parts, created from a lifetime of actions and reactions, choices taken or rebuffed. Places seen and lived and made her own.

The roses, skulls, birds, and crosses were ornament, but none of them told the real story, didn’t get across what it meant to be her, and her alone.

He looked at a life laid bare, a human being unaware of how much she had to say and give. A woman, a creation uniquely beautiful, a story told without word or pretense. He saw that, and not the artifice.


Andrea Isabella Hurtado

An Excerpt from Soul Searching

If I were to die and be reincarnated, I would hope to meet you once more. If time is kind and allowing, I hope to find you again as my friend for each life after.

Dark, cloudy, drizzling rain pats down on the pavement floor, but sunshine was always there.

Two distraught souls wander aimlessly hoping to be caught by someone’s pure air. You saved me from darkness and sorrow, reached out to me with comfort and laughter…

my shared spirit, it was you I was chasing after.

Caught me off guard with your honesty, surprised me with your passion, reminded me of the fear of losing happiness, brought out from within.

Not many know the essence of being brought back to life, to have that shine resonate your heart once more. To laugh effortlessly, to admire another’s truth and responsibility.

This day is a symbol of delight for new found love, for laughter, and kindness—the blessing of finding my soulmate, who is also my best friend.