Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen

Archive for September, 2016|Monthly archive page

Let us go then you and I            

In Poetry, Uncategorized on September 29, 2016 at 8:58 pm

A collaborative poem by Ann Quintano, Tanya Jones, Stephanie Lawal, Michael Welch, and Bern Nix, using a famous first line (T.S. Eliot)

blue-door

Let us go then you and I

Can explore the world in our own eyes

But if fear keeps us trapped, ask why

In search of the sirens’ dressing room

I follow the song to her tomb

And plead at the entrance to “let me in!”

Not so long, as to an entrance!

There are requirements, my dear!

But who are you to ban me from either room or tomb

The ushers refuse seating in the tomb 15 minutes

After the show’s opening

The show must go on, with or without you!

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Anthony

In Soup Kitchen Stories, Uncategorized on September 27, 2016 at 2:53 pm

anthony

Two years ago, Anthony was enjoying a successful career in wardrobe, set design and acting for film and tv. Originally from Delaware, where his mother was a college professor of Communications and his father ran a small construction company, Anthony grew up in a loving, comfortable home.  He was encouraged to develop his creativity, work hard and put his best foot forward in everything he did.

Sadly, when he was still a young man, both his parents passed on within a few years of each other and Anthony, with no brothers and sisters to lean on to help, coped with his grief by travelling the world, wanting to experience life to its fullest. Always optimistic, he had faith that between trips he could always find new gigs on tv and film projects.That formula worked for several years before he finally settled down in New York with a long term job on a major television network tv show in New York.

“I lived in an apartment building on the West Side, you know…a doorman,  a nice place, ” he says. “I enjoyed the good things in life: restaurants, travel, nice clothes. I didn’t know what it was like to live without any money.”

So, when the production company went through a reorganization and Anthony lost his job, he was confident he could pick up new work before too long. That was a year and a half ago.  “I thought I’d pick up something new by the end of the month,” he remembers. “Then one month turned into the next, and then the next.”

Never one to give up hope,  Anthony refused to think about the worst case scenario.

But with no income, and no new job prospects in the competitive show business industry, Anthony soon saw his bank account dramatically shrink until he finally had to use his security deposit to pay for a final month on his apartment last June. Since then, he’s been living on the street, homeless, and without family to turn to.

“That first day, when I moved all my things into storage, I looked around and thought – I really don’t have anywhere to go!” he says. “So I started walking, and trying to figure this ‘homelessness thing’ out.”

Anthony’s been putting one step in front of the other ever since. Not feeling safe in the crowded shelter system, he started sleeping on the subway at night, and coming to the soup kitchen during the day for his midday meal.

“If I stay clean and well groomed, and I sit a certain way on the subway  with my briefcase between my feet, I can close my eyes.  I just look like I’m a tired commuter, and I sleep from one end of the line to the other” he says. “By using my old gym membership I can still shower and stay clean. The haircut vouchers from the soup kitchen have really helped.”

At first, he said, it was hard to ask for help. “I always saw people in line here and I was hungry. My pride got in the way though. I kept saying to myself – ‘I don’t want to be in that line’. Next thing you know…I’m in that line!”

He remembers his first impression of the inside of the soup kitchen as he stood with his tray of food, how  it immediately gave him a sense of hope, of peace: “The church is so beautiful!”

Anthony continued to look for work, but when his phone got cut off, he faced an even harder uphill battle to stay on top of his job search.  Excited to find out about our computer lab and resume coaching, he says, “All the people here help so much, they are amazing – the food, the clothing, the soap and toothpaste,  the haircut vouchers. It makes me want to volunteer too. I need to feel productive.”

Anthony’s perseverance, combined with the help from the soup kitchen will hopefully pay off  before the winter months set in. He’s just recently gone to several  job interviews for customer service positions and one job looks especially promising.

“You know, I see this as temporary. It has to be” he says, determination in his voice.  “Some day, I’ll be able to give back a lot to the soup kitchen. You’ll see!”

 

 

INSOMNIA #2

In Uncategorized on September 22, 2016 at 6:09 pm

 

insomnia-2

                     

 

I lie awake at night

Amazed at how quickly deep dark begets the daylight

 

I lie awake at night

Unimpressed by headlight flashes that give false pretense to the moon

 

I lie awake at night

Waiting for tree branch shadows to reach down from the ceiling to caress me

 

I lie awake at night

And cower as the tree incarnate beats fiercely against vinyl siding

 

I lie awake at night

Because I am too cold to be comfortable, but too warm to wander

From beneath one blanket in search of another

 

I lie awake at night

And think about when I didn’t do so alone

We’d chat or brood, but together

 

OR

 

I would lie awake at night

Annoyed by your snores

Or being drenched by your sweat

 

AND

 

I would lie awake at night

Concocting methods and devices to make your passing seem natural

 

So now…

 

I lie awake at night

And marvel at how slyly slick darkness creeps into bright light

 

and

 

I lie awake at night

 

and then

 

I lay alone in morning

Knowing that we are all better off this way.

 

-Stephanie Lawal

The Discreet Banquet of the Comfortable Class

In Food, Prose on September 16, 2016 at 1:05 pm

banquet_87615343_161885c

Seeing the picture of the banquet table generates a mixture of associations. Someone once said life is a banquet and many poor suckers are starving. That’s not an exact quote, but I’m certain you get the general idea. Food can be about sustenance, community, or abstinence. Often those hazard a career in the arts find themselves unwittingly playing the role of hungry artist. Frequently it is more about famine than feasting. One gig may pay exceedingly well. The next may pay virtually nothing at all. If you’re doing well you may have the luxury of the incestuous elite. It also allow for an awareness of how certain life choices lead one down a road that is far afield from what many consider to be “normal” or mainstream.

Sharing a meal with others can have outcomes that vary. How many holiday family get-togethers degenerate into combat? Hidden rivalry, resentment, and misunderstanding come to the fore. Asking someone to pass the salt can easily turn into an act of war.

When I was quite young, I spent hours in the library reading. Everyone said that would-be writers should read. I read and always enjoyed reading. One of the first things I read by Kafka was A Hunger Artist. The metaphorical aspect of this story contains much having to do with the hazards of artistic life. At least that is the notion in a painfully real and vivid manner. Of course there is humor inherent in the darkest aspect of it all. A person who starves to death professionally can have a laugh or two from time to time. Maybe a professional hunger artist’s life is the ultimate punch line delivered by the ultimate sick comedian.

Hunger has many aspects. There’s the physical hunger for food, the metaphysical hunger for something that palliates the ineffable dread that characterizes even the most smug, secure existence; the kind of existence that allows for one to sup in elegant places.

-Bern Nix

Never Give Up

In Uncategorized on September 9, 2016 at 1:02 pm

homeless-shopping-cart-5838633

 

Stop – Can be a dangerous world.

My life living on the street over twenty-five years not knowing where and what corner I’ll doze off in, knowing the staff will kick me out. But life is a gamble, I thank God for the church. We’re allowed to sleep on the steps and wake up for the “run” or anyone who wants to donate food or anything. It doesn’t matter if it’s 40 degrees or snow, rain, below zero, this is where I sleep and how I sleep. Getting my cardboard boxes together each night. Sometimes I don’t sleep, just walk around all day taking care of my business, trying to get something to eat from the soup kitchen and volunteers outside. But when I sit down outside, that’s when people get very mad, when you are on private property, they hit you, yell at you to wake up. My nerves are shocked after a time. Showers are at scheduled times in designated places. At times I don’t feel like showering, but I know that odor builds up after wearing the same clothes daily, but no one will come close to smell me. Yeah, everything fits in my five shopping bags filled with things I need. People don’t feel I need all these bags.

-Precious W.

Annual Public Reading featured in Chelsea Now

In Uncategorized on September 2, 2016 at 2:33 pm

On August 25th, 2016 our readers gathered for our annual Public Reading at Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen where, just a few hours before, about 1000 meals were served to hungry and homeless New Yorkers. Like our daily meals, anyone is invited to attend the writers’ workshop: there is no proof of need, no qualifications required. Soup kitchen guests, volunteers and New Yorkers who’ve never stepped into a soup kitchen before gather around the writing table every week during the Fall, Winter and Spring, creating and sharing “Food for the Soul”: a literary fusion of eclectic form, taste, texture and tradition. The result is a collection of pieces we publish on this blog, and what can be found on the pages of our annual Food for the Soul anthology. The final culmination, but also an integral part of the writing process and development as a writer,  is the public reading.  chelseanow.com

was at last week’s events and wrote all about in this article:

http://chelseanow.com/2016/08/soup-kitchen-writers-workshop-serves-food-for-the-soul/

Lumpy Cream of Wheat

In Uncategorized on September 2, 2016 at 1:21 pm

 

cream of wheatHe stooped down to release his load

Then stood fluidly

As if his blood was lumpy Cream of Wheat

The way Ma used to make

 

At five I begged to have those

Clandestine chewy globs

Appear sporadically in my Breakfast Bowl

I swore that I would when I could

May my own hot bowl of yumminess,

That breakfast would always be full of surprises

 

But at 45, almost anally,

I gently vibrate the cereal box, high above the pot

Allowing sonly for sprinkles while I simultaneously stir

To assure that the grains meet

Only when they are ready to meld

I am too old for surprises

Still they come

From beyond my insight or control

More substantially than any lumpy porridge

Or coins gathered in cups

 

Though still only giving me slight pause

 

That is

Until he stood with chalice in hand

Ready to receive our deposits

And barked simply “Homeless Person”

Essentially encompassing his entire existence

For all who chose to fly by

-Stephanie Lawal