Packing For Homelessness in Phoenix, AZ by Kate Hammerich

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Packing For Homelessness in Phoenix, AZ

Everything you pack will be wrong.

You will take too much;
                                           over the years
your mind has adapted
to an amazing list of non-essentials.

Bite the bullet: Unpack everything,

leave it somewhere safe. No sundresses,
wisps of cool for long hot days,
no air conditioning

your body will adapt faster than
your sensibilities.

You will go rough & feral
in the heat, feet callusing
over shards of glass, freckles
on top of freckles,

body whipcord lean, with a cocky strut:
a claim of dust & streets

& secrets.

Leave your things behind,  
there will be enough to tend:

your husband
rolled cigarettes
cactus thorns in a dog paw,

you cannot carry anything else –

not when the police horns will
evict you from the parking lot
& sleep

at 5 AM;

monsoons storming the eastern sky,
whiplashing bodies & buildings, rugged, ragged,
emerging into one tomorrow after another,

you bend & bend & tumble with the fall,
but when your husband dances with you at 7 AM
in an alley, the dog tangling, jealous,
between your feet
you won’t worry about bad breath,
unwashed hair, thorns underfoot,

there is a church handing out breakfast
on the street

& yes,
you remembered to pack the ability
to believe
                                  in anything.


Kate Hammerich

Kate Hammerich has been published in many literary journals, including, Third Wednesday, Barrier Island Review, Verandah Literary Journal, Grasslimb, The Missing Slate, and Existere. She has published two books, escape artist and hallucinations, cancer & the purple tree and is currently working on a third. Kate was also a founding editor of online publication cahoodaloodaling and is now on staff as a lit reader. She can be contacted at while her website is under construction.