Writing Through Hard Times

Each month, the Denver VOICE publishes a selection of writing from workshops sponsored by Lighthouse Writers Workshop. The Hard Times Writing Workshop is a collaboration between Denver Public Library and Lighthouse Writers Workshop. This workshop is open to all members of the public—especially those experiencing homelessness. Hard Times meets every Tuesday from 3-5 p.m. on the fourth floor of DPL’s Central branch. The Lighthouse sponsored workshop at The Gathering Place is specifically for that organization’s clients.

To check out more writing by the poets featured in this column, go to writedenver.org

Fran Ford


Sun Catcher, what you mean

is decades ago. Those days

lived like nightmares of grief.

She put you in my hand.

I grasped a thin cord, a loop end,

walked to a window

where the sun possessed, besparkled you.

Its light-bound daemon took you.

The reluctant sun of England took you

by your mirror/mirror angles.

Shine of Denver sun, whirl of city wind,

through you threw rainbow curves.

My old cat, long gone, a kitten then,

arching and pouncing, patting paws,

could not fathom you. Nor do I,

cloudy, now, in Denver yet.

You can, again, you can

break distant sunlight into bits,

spin my many shades on through

here, this darkness.

Michael-Roman Dixon


In life the only constant is change. It not only is inevitable, it is a necessity. It is necessary for healing open wounds.

Patty died this Winter. In Spring, I met Rachel. 

One night, Patty kicked me awake. She was drunk as always. At 34 she was drinking herself to death. 

She had suffered four seizures in her last month. The night she kicked me to wake me up I snapped, “What?”

“I’m so depressed,” she said, “I’m in a low, hollow place. I want to leave my body. Let’s both close our eyes and practice astral projection.”

We both closed our eyes to meditate. I fell asleep. An hour later Patty woke me, screaming.

 “Michael, I did it. I left my body. I was on the roof of the apartment building.”

 I said, “Yea, yea Patty. Go back to sleep, hon.”

When I woke again, Patty did not. I was sleeping beside a corpse. My stomach tumbled like a tightrope walker who has missed a step.

The paramedic said she died of a brain aneurysm in her sleep. I knew better. She was done with Earth, and me.

I stood beside the coroner’s car without a coat. It was 3 degrees below zero. My ears, toes and fingertips ached. 

 They shoved her stiff cold whiteness into the back of the car. I looked at her for the last time. My heart froze, then snapped.

 Winter gloom loomed loudly.

 A bird in a bare tree bounced off the snow-cold concrete and snapped its frozen wing. Ouch!

 I went into the house, laid on our bed and fell asleep.

 When I woke again, it was a warm, green morning and Rachel had whispered in my mouth, “Do you love me as much as I love you, Michael?”

 A new woman had come into my life.

 Her voice was like the “C” above middle “C” on the piano, soft and tiny.

 She smelled like lilacs. Her skin was smooth and the color of a chocolate kiss.

 Outside our window, the trees had begun to get dressed again.

 The oak said to the maple, “Must we always wear green?”

 The maple said, “Yes, because it’s when the Sun is happiest.

 Also, outside our window, we watched little boys run red wagons up and down the sidewalk.

 Little girls, sunning in the shine, sat on the stoop cradling their dolls to their chests.

 A squirrel scampered down a tree, snatched up a small apple then sat up and grinned.

 And a bee, dripping nectar from a sunflower, buzzed and bounced into a nude, blue sky and we all were so happy.

 Change had come. Again.

Austin Riker


Life’d be better if I’d a boat,
but I don’t.
Just a beat up old bag born on bruised shoulders n’ brazed skin.

Life’d be better if I’d bills, a will, a mortgage
To force my hands thus guide the way,
but I don’t.
Just a bitten blade of grass braced by hands, well-leathered
between sunburnt lips bearing a grin, wind-weathered.

But between the open road, these beat up old boots n’
just this listless spirit to heed,
up the anchor!
Full tilt, lean to tack in shifting winds n’ yet
too set to sway

But of the lonely road n’ that swiftly setting sun
they show me this,
my own good way.