Human Relations Lesson Plan Rubric


Alternative Worldview Poem
-Mara Dahlberg, February 2014

Concept:  I recently spent some time in Downtown Denver, CO.  I was stricken by the poverty in such a wealthy and highly educated city (Denver boasts being the most educated city in the US).  I have visited many large cities and am not overtly shocked by homelessness.   Perhaps it is the mild climate, perhaps the level of tolerance by law enforcement and government (lack of anti-panhandling laws, active organizations, etc.), I am not sure the logic, but I was approached by and witnessed many homeless people requesting money or food, more than in any other place, even poor parts of Mexico.  Through some research I found that Denver is “home” to 11,167 homeless people (2013 poll taken by the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative).  Additionally, an organization called Urban Peak served more than 2,300 homeless young people (ages 15-24) last year alone.  I am not sure how these statistics stack up next to other comparable cities, I just know what I saw and what I felt, the affect it had on me.  I left my comfort zone and conversed with some young people at the park who had been living on the streets and in the shelters of Denver for many years, this is the underlying concept of my worldview poem.

Perspective:  Homeless youth of the American city.

My poem is about the day in the life of Stormy, a 17 year old girl who left home 2+ years ago.  She talked to me for a while, realistically I suppose to see what she could get from me, which ended up being lunch and not cash, which I had the feeling she would have preferred.  She said left home due to sexual and physical abuse, has used and been addicted to drugs since she was 12, and has done unimaginable things to survive.  When I asked her how she starts her day she replied that first she wakes up, and her meaning was not just in the physical sense, but also to wake up to where and what she was.  Then she has to “check” herself; am I hurt, was I robbed? These are the first two questions she asks herself each morning.  When asked if, how, or when she planned to get “out” she answered probably not, she could see herself in the old women who scrap for their spot at the mission each night and get by on little more than some leftover food and enough of whatever was around to feed their addiction.  She thought her only chance might be to be a rapper, and spoke often in rhyme, “in case anyone with some connections” passed by.

I know rhyming is a cliché poetic format, but this goes out to her.



the cold piercing air screams

another night passed, free from the burden of improbable dreams

“Check yourself”

the foggy mind declares

Is there spit it your hair?

Is your stuff still all there?

Another day begins

free of promise, free of cheer

listless and hopeless, eternally

Another day begins

full of struggle, full of fear

no comfort here, only uncertainty


Meet those needs, fulfill the body’s greed, what comes first

is it food,

is it warmth,

is it a smoke,

is it a fix,

What is it that I need the worst?

The look right through me,

those passers by.

Seems they’re unable to hear my plea,

unwilling to meet my eye.

I look at their shoes, I look at their smile

Who’s most likely to stop and chat a while?


If I can just get ‘em talkin’

I know that they’ll see.

They’ll see I need help,

they’ll take care of me.

I know just what they’re thinking

“Just go HOME”

Home to what? Those hard hitting punches, those disgusting dirty looks

“Get a JOB”

From who?  They give those to kids who learnt from books

There’s no room at the shelter

again tonight.

Didn’t come soon enough

Didn’t put up a hard enough fight

I’ll stay in the ally

or maybe the park.

I’ll go to sleep hungry,

scared and afraid of what happens in the dark.

-Mara Dahlberg, February 2014