Gale Hemman

Tent City (Sonnet For Homeless Youth); Stuck In The Break Room (Sonnet for Financial Coaching): Gale Hemmann

Tent City (Sonnet for Homeless Youth)

The tent city is like a Venus fly trap
Once you’re zipped in it, you’re off the known map
The place you huddle is not a named place
The face you have – no longer a face.

It doesn’t matter that you have a name
Because now their name is – They’re all the same …
Your life story here has no place for storing –
and no one can hear it over traffic roaring.

For when you’re a person who lives outside
You see the cars passing – but you can’t hitch a ride
And when you’re between ages of twelve and seventeen
It would be easy so easy to get lost in between –

So when you find care and safe shelter at night
You’re called by name – back into the light.

Community Youth Services reaches over 700 homeless youth per year at its teen/young adult shelters in Olympia and Tacoma, by pairing emergency supports with links to ongoing supportive services to support self-sufficiency.

Stuck in the Break Room (Sonnet for Financial Coaching)

“Use up every minute of your break!” – Retail worker, Tillicum, WA

The minimum wage goes up to $13.69 on January 1;, 2021 it takes approximately $25.00 per hour to achieve a “living wage” for two parents working with two kids

I’m in the warehouse’s daily break room
The four walls surrounding me like a tomb
They talk about rights – on a stapled up page
But six years here and making minimum wage

Now at home on weekends I like to play chess
Where I can figure how to move onto what’s next –
But here, no one talks about getting ahead
So I go out for a cigarette break instead.

And I know my paycheck will soon be gone
But I live on a bank account already overdrawn
And I heard someone once talk about savings –
But the vending machine’s here to squelch those cravings.

I want to lose the mindset of poverty –
I’ll follow the way – if you’ll show it to me.


Gale Hemmann is a grant writer and poet based in Olympia/Tacoma, Washington State. She is passionate about the power of words to change narratives, personal and societal. She holds a B.A. from Smith College and an M.FA. from Pacific University. She is humbled to share with and learn from the community of poets and writers around us who raise the frequency. You can find her in the rain or with her cat.