A Poem for Gloria
Screams, angry red flames, burst alive,
splitting the midnight black void.
Purple tipped inferno,
pushes across withering flesh.
The color of indifference,
the paint by number homeless refugee.
Steel gray fog swallows an investigation,
stillborn, absence the yellow tape.
Despair — white-hot coals while living,
death, consumed a wounded heart.
Alone, abandoned, isolated, fear,
a perfect storm, Gloria the eye.
Hers, the faceless enemy,
hers, the face of the enemy.
The Other personified,
the Other, birthed by fear.
She, indifferent to painful words, coldness of others — really?
she: saddened, abandoned, AWOL love.
Benign neglect, metamorphosis —,
burn of focused hatred.
classless disposition of fear.
Gone is the suffering,
Gloria is dead.
One year ago, Gloria’s burned body was discovered. She was a homeless woman living outside in a junkyard.
One year later, questions remain: Why did she not try to run nor crawl for help? Were there other wounds on her body other than those caused by the fire? Were her lungs scorched, indicating that she was alive when the fire engulfed her? Were accelerants used? How did the fire start? Why was the scene not cordoned off? Work crews were scrubbing the yard clean within hours of her death. If a woman had died in a house fire in Montecito or Hope Ranch, would not the scene be off-limits to the public while a police investigation was being conducted?
Ross Stiles was killed a few years back. The police investigation into his death was closed in five weeks, before the coroner had ruled his death was due to blunt force trauma to the head. His two killers still walk our streets. There was no justice in his case.
Will there be justice for Gloria?
— Ken Williams has been a social worker for the homeless for the past 30 years. His writings and opinions reflect only his personal views. He does not speak as a representative for or on behalf of any organization with which he may be affiliated. He is the author of China White and Shattered Dreams, A Story of the Streets. He has just completed his first nonfiction book, There Must Be Honor.