Featured Story: The Man in the Last Pew

Featured Story: The Man in the Last Pew

—with the same name as mine

As told to writer Curtis L. Crisler for Facing Homelessness in Fort Wayne, Indiana

It’s a little thing for me to live through these cards.
They show the places that make my mind smile—

Places I’d live in if I knew magic, or didn’t have
the job of owning all of the dreams of my past.

Christmas cards are easier to live in. I’ve collected more
than 3,000 cards since 1985. The reds and the blues
that glitter have a different meaning when I
can put my hands on the edges of their frame.

People make me scratch my head. People take more
time to show off true colors. And people forget people
are not all hard.

When in state’s hands, I thought I would miss people,
but the medicine made me only depend on the movies in my mind,
scenes where Mama sat in our living room,

While I read how the words to the Bible move in this life,
without the worry of her suffering. Suffering comes like daylight

Into my bedroom, now, taking me out of the darkness,
into creaky pews of Mission Church on Pearl Street.

I bring with me Mama memories—the birthday
and Christmas cards I hand out to the worn faces
I have come to smile at in my come back to the world.

I could be a mad dog about it all, but I have food,
the warmth of my apartment, and how God put new
light in my head. The new moved out the old,

And no institution will tie down my dreams, now. I accept
all my nightmares, and all bright daylight shining too.

///

About The Facing Project:
The Facing Project is a nonprofit organization that connects people through stories to strengthen communities. The organization works with campuses and communities to organize and share the stories of citizens through the talent of local writers and actors, and provides the tools necessary to develop projects so that community organizers can easily showcase the stories to bring attention to, and create dialogue around, issues and topics within a community.

Since its founding in 2012, The Facing Project has worked with 30 communities and campuses in eight states and two countries and has been hailed by The Huffington Post as one of three oral history projects to watch. To learn more about The Facing Project or to start a chapter in your community, visit www.facingproject.com/.