Hard Times

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 from 3-5 p.m. on the fourth floor of DPL’s Central branch. To check out more writing by Hard Times participants, go to writedenver.org.

Saif Suhail

Fatal Dice


Papers of copybooks are dancing – by wind – in front of the café!

. . . .

Our friend blocks the Muggins dominoes game, and checks off five scores on a folded piece of a cigarette pack,

And then, he bows his head and says:

We checked off another five souls . . . and now, another friend must be torn up in the next explosion!

. . . .

It’s always the same game, repeating itself, on the café table or on the café curb:

With each bang of a domino, on a swaying board, there is a jest of explosion at the entrance!

With each throw of a dice in backgammon game, there is a dead body rolling . . .

With each puff from a hookah hose, there is a chortle vaporizing.

. . . .

Laughing, Raed says: Son of brew (coffee)

This is not an insult being addressed to anyone, nor is sarcastic joking;

It is only a statement of the taste of bitterness that a loss and another imminent waiting leave on a customer’s mouth (between a loss and another, we pour a bitter loss and wait)

It is a silent and pallid statement; a sign that we are charred and leave our entrails behind us, swelling in proportion to the extent of calamity . . .

He says: ‘Son of brew’; and dwindles;

Disappears with any chair or couch that is listed in a contract to supply Paradise furniture.

. . . .

The café empties gradually,

And any slight crack can start from a cup of tea, and extend through a glass, running on the wall of the café, then the floor, to crack, at the end, a heart!

. . . .

The last corpse that’s been buried next to me in the cemetery . . . A corpse of a female employee who we used to watch while she was passing by the opposite side of our café – in front of a café shop that was blown up yesterday, she told me:

Your café remained empty . . .

Yet the people passing by still hear sounds: laughter, snap of dominoes, a roll of dice, and a sound of glass smashing . . .

Listen they do closely to the glass that is smashing,

And say about us: wreckage is smashing and bleeding its glass!

While papers from the debts ledger are frolicking on the café curb, shaking off our names and numbers . . . and they don’t calm down until someone says:

“Son of brew!”

Freddy Bosco

Hail Fire


Yesterday, I made it home

just in time to partake 

of the sight of a deluge

of a hard, hard rain

which quickly developed

into a hailstorm. The skies

cracked open and hammered

the parked cars and shredded

the leaves of the trees along

the streets. Inwardly, I expressed

gratitude to The Powers That Be

for bringing me to a safe,warm

dry place—my front door, made

of glass—whereI could observe

the deluge. I nearly dropped 

my jaw to drink in the sight

ofthe might of the heavens

as they poured dirty rainwater

andhalf-inch pellets downward,

Ere long, the lawn outside

my door,  the sidewalks 

and the streets lay forlorn,

carpeted by two inches of hail.

For once, I had no spiritual delusion,

no holy metaphor to attempt

to gain a superior handle on 

the phenomenon, just 

a mammal’s awe at the fury

expressed by theenvironment

weshare on the planet.




If i but taste as sweet as I look

Would you then understand

From my ripe pink soft inner core

The sacrifice dig into me as my seeds

Reminding me of my youth memoirs

My umbilical code known to be a stem

To the fighting my sibling for water

As circular with the greatest of grass color

Forming into the yellowish beauty today

Picked by your rough hands against me

My life story has now begun

In the distance I realize it’s about to the end

For i am the succulent taste you craved