In the heart of LA’s skid row there is unbounded treasure. Talented souls fighting to survive under life’s most extreme pressures. And they do. Beating the odds sometimes as often as hour by hour. The perennial hero with a thousand faces but here-- it’s no myth. We pass their growing numbers on the streets everyday.

At Urban Possibilities we believe in their unlimited potential. In fact, we exist to support their drive to thrive. Yet, as we were dressing them in business clothes on the outside, it was clear - the ravages of poverty were burying their gifts on the inside. So we hoped through writing, they could begin to excavate and recover some ray of light. We had no idea what was in store.

Let Their Soulful
Stories be Heard
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Snowflakes

by Michael Shain

We are all snowflakes
Black White Yellow Brown
Male Female All shapes All colors All sizes
Not one of us alike Never was and never will be
Everyone passes this way only once, fated to fade away

Our voices, echoes in the canyons others may hear,
But usually won’t
What are we to make of this, our last and only chance?
Alone, we melt, dissolve into nothingness, vapor and mist
never to be seen again

But together, packed tight, the sun cannot melt us
We change the world around us
We become an entire continent
Waves pass by us
Polar bears walk on us

Together we reflect back the sun, a blinding light
Together we shine
We can’t allow ourselves to fall like raindrops,
Alone and uncounted,
doomed to dissolve into mist

Together we stand against centuries of ocean tides

And change the face of the world


Introduction
by Michael Gray

I am a 45 year old, honorably discharged black
male veteran of the United States Air Force.
My dream is, God willing, to start a very unique
publishing company. I have had times of stability
and contentment in my life. However, the fact that
I write this from Skid Row makes clear that I have
given up much more than I have accomplished. . .

I was recently involved in some real talk between myself,
Michael Boyd, Gerardo Avalos and Tekro Blade. Late
into the night we discussed fatherhood. Each one of us
expressed great remorse over the type of fathers we
had been, and even greater was our determination to
change.

For a time our conversation focused on our daughters.
It was during this time that the poem I am submitting was
inspired. It is dedicated to our daughters and the daughters
of all who are diligently traveling on this road of change. So,
with no other expectation than for the reader to know that
this comes from the hearts of fallen but determined men,
I gladly submit “As Fathers Rise.”


As Fathers Rise

by Michael Gray

I can still see her so clearly,
big brown eyes and tiny feet.
The light weight of her on my chest
as we both would fall asleep.

Memories of her mother's tummy.
Memories of my daughter and me,
bring joy but now guilt and shame
keep joy close company.

You see I've fallen as her father.
Yet the truth seems to be,
that this was necessary
to correct my deficiency.

To be a strong provider,
make her smile, and meet her needs,
I first must trust in God Our Father
to do the same for me.

Seek Him early each morning,
His direction to guide me,
with prayer and perseverance
I will keep growing steadily.
And I will see her again so clearly.
Older now, same big brown eyes,
that once saw her father fallen
and now has seen her father rise.

Dedicated to Cherish, Lauren, Erica, Takira, Makiya, and Malena

 

I Do Not Know You Well, But What I Know…
To Rachael

by Pedro Alvarado, Jr.

I do not know you well, but what I know
Enchants me, like a song sung far away.
I cannot hear the words, but what they say
Hangs softly on the hills where I must go.

Hazel and dreamy, your spirit half elsewhere;
I note your lovely skin and your dark hair
In addition, I wish I knew your thoughts and shared your cries.

This love brings me sweet pain, but I want more,
Driven by a dream I can’t control,
I want the truth of you, untamed and whole;
In frantic hope I haunt your open door.