In Your Own Words – VOICE Contributor Memorials

Katrina Blake and her late husband, Joseph Martin (Credit: Katrina Blake)

Katrina Blake and her late husband, Joseph Martin (Credit: Katrina Blake)

In memory of my husband

By Katrina Blake

Katrina Blake’s ex-husband and former VOICE vendor Joseph Martin recently passed away. She honors his memory with his own words and some reflections of her own.

 In memory of my husband, Joseph Lamar Martin, I would like you to hear my voice. We were married for six years and we separated for three years. However, somehow we still remained best friends. He became homeless for the second time here in Denver. He had a mental illness and a broken heart that he took to the streets. He was on disability and Section 8 at age 62, but it was suddenly cancelled. At 62 and in a wheelchair for one and a half years, he had no help from any resources. Joseph had two heart attacks and fought pneumonia several times. I came to help him. Unfortunately, while I was at work one of the shelters indicated he had passed away. 

I know this appears to be just a statistic to some people. He was a brilliant man who was an ordained minister, a musician, a father, educated with a computer degree, worked for the government, and was a (mostly) loving husband. There were never any drugs and no criminal background. Somehow, the system failed and couldn’t help him in his time of need.

Everyone asks how am now in this predicament of homelessness. When I lost my three businesses in Houston, Texas, I moved back home to Pueblo with my mother. My mother was amazing and actually took my ex-husband into her home while I was away. I originally thought I was coming to the streets to save him. He plainly asked me not to let him die alone. It was a big risk, but I loved that man. 

As the housing and medical appointments continued, I was quickly told that we were at the bottom of the list for housing. I remembered the first time he told me he was homeless, when an agency told him to lie to move up on the list. I truly thought that if we were still legally married, with my veteran status we would become priority. But even with clean records, we were ignored by all agencies. 

I found out that in order to get my veteran benefits, I had to stay here in Denver. I found no support. I started to drink more in order to cover up my PTSD. The shelters for women are impossible when you have a job and are trying to work. We only have one day shelter and one overnight for women in Denver. The most frustrating thing about staying in the shelters is the other females without a job who keep me from getting ready in the morning. Some shelters only have one or two bathrooms for up to 200 women. 

During this journey — that is what I call it — I have been in numerous fights with men and women. I have been punched, burned, and raped now. The cops wouldn’t even help me after the rape. I am sad to say that even thought parts of this roller coaster have been wonderful, the other part is making me lose strength. I will fight to the end. The public needs to hear my voice. 

Will everyone please reconsider how they view the homeless population? Not all of us have been destructive or careless. Some of us want to be, some are just struggling, and some of us have not been treated fairly by the system. 

Thank you for understanding. Please take the time to read my husband’s poem that was published in the VOICE in 2003. 

“The Streets Are Unforgiven”

By Joseph L. Martin

I lay down tonight

After saying my prayer

My few possessions in sight 

With hope in the morning

They’d be here

So as night ends and today

The struggles over 

Another missed down payment

On the future

With only a comforting dream

Of my fantasy lover

Today someone asked a question

“What’s it like living on the streets?”

“Do you have freedom, a disability check and much free food to eat?”

I answered, “No matter how much you’ll give, someone’s gonna take it.”

My damndest I try to be positive, 

But the day’s end, it’s for grief’s sake

I’ll get so depressed and spiritless, 

I turn to drugs or take a drink. 

Trying to soothe pains vicious,

Emotional defeatism cycle.

Hopefully these libations will soothe me, I think. 

But all I got was drunk, 

stumbling stupor headache. 

Still with much to give, 

And a little from the streets to take. 

I am an American citizen, 

Still patriotically this country I love. 

Still denied basic rights. 

Only help I’ll get is from God above. 

Yes, I still have hope. 

I’ll get a home, I can pay. 

The older I get and barely cope, 

more and more I’m gonna pray. ■

[Poem written as it appears in Volume 8, Issue 1 of the Denver VOICE, published January 2003]

Freddy Bosco (Credit: Carol Bosco)

Freddy Bosco (Credit: Carol Bosco)

In Memory of Frederick N. Bosco
10/12/1948 – 12/19/2018

By Bill Sonn

Freddy Bosco, a lifelong writer and poet who often participated in the Hard Times writing group and had his work regularly published in the Denver VOICE, passed away at the end of 2018.  

 Long-time Denver writer Freddy Bosco, who often wrote about the inner lives and aspirations of the city’s lost and infirm, died peacefully, surrounded by friends and family, at University of Colorado Hospital December 19, 2018. Son of Francis Neal Bosco and Anne C. Hooks, both of whom predeceased him, Freddy is survived by his sisters Carol Anne Bosco of Cedaredge, CO and Karen Leak, her husband Denny, and family of Wrangell, Alaska. A graduate of the University of Denver, Freddy was a former Poet Laureate of Denver, a talented writer, sketch artist, piano player and, not least, a clever poet even on his sickbed. His last amused advice to a friend: “If the phone rings and its cancer, don’t answer.” Able to find humor even in his lifelong struggles with various illnesses and addictions, he was also a strong man able to bend those trials into a life filled with friends, poetry books and a pursuit of Peace Education with the Prem Rawat community in Denver.

After a characteristically colorful sojourn in New York as a young man (think brief stints at everything from an elite accounting firm to a bullpen of fellow hungry writers grinding out a daily quota of stories for pulp magazines) he returned to Denver. There his work — which was often centered on his haunts on Denver’s Capitol Hill and East Colfax as well as his gratitude for life, breath and mindfulness — appeared in many places, including The Denver Post, The Rocky Mountain News, Harper’s Magazine, The New Yorker, The Straight Creek Journal, Westword, The Denver VOICE and, most recently, Life on Capitol Hill. He also worked for many years at the CHARG Resource Center, which offers therapeutic and life-skills support to adults living with major mental illness. He also regularly explained mental illness and its challenges to classes of medical residents and nursing and social work students at the Anschutz Medical Campus. A member of two local writers’ groups, he generously offered his mentoring and editing assistance to others. 

As Lois Harvey of West Side Books once put it: “Being a friend of Freddy Bosco means many things. Jokes delivered by phone. Articles in sundry publications. Hand-lettered original books. Original art that is poetry and vice versa.” ■

A celebration of Freddy’s Life will be held in Central Denver on April 14 from 2:00-6:00 p.m. please RSVP to
720-341-9804 or by 4/6/19 for details.