I wrote this poem about six years ago and I found it in a journal I’ve had stored in a box. I thought I’d lost it. It was inspired by Colonia Capitalina, Tegucigalpa, a poor neighborhood I visited with Casa Alianza to meet a family with two daughters. The local gangs were wanting to recruit them, in one way or the other. To say it shocked me is an understatement; it was my first sight of extreme poverty in this country.
My life now feels like a world away from my first few years in Honduras. That isn’t a boast. Just honesty. I would like to return to work with vulnerable youths from poorer neighborhoods.
My thoughts in the poem are still relevant now, I think. Despite all the stats fiddling and redefining what is and what isn’t poverty, the problem isn’t going away.
Walking amongst the rubble
In another type of bubble,
Where outsiders avert their eyes and hold their nose,
Claiming this is the life you chose.
Rain rattles the steel ceilings,
And you walk in dirt on the floor,
Wondering what substance you’ll put in your mouth,
While keeping a gun propped up against the door.
MS13 will pass by later,
Collecting what they believe is theirs.
Dare you not send your daughter to the pulperia;
Or your 11 year old will receive predator stares (or more).
You don’t know when the plata’s coming;
You sometimes struggle to put clothes on your own back.
You pray that God is on your side,
While the rest of the world is having a crack.
Politicians steal and everyone knows it,
Yet they all claim to be here to save you.
A clean man in a white shirt slips 50 Lemps in your pocket,
Suggesting you say things you know aren’t true.
It’d be nice to have a Blackberry phone,
But a new mattress or stove would be better.
Though one never knows what the Lord has in store,
So best buy your daughter a warmer sweater.