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00000181-fa79-da89-a38d-fb7f2b910000KUOW is joining forces with other Seattle media outlets to highlight the homeless crisis in the city and region on Wednesday, June 29, 2017.The effort was modeled after a collaboration by more than 70 San Francisco outlets to focus a day of news attention on the issue and possible solutions.Read more about the Seattle project and check out our coverage below. Follow the city's coverage by using #SeaHomeless.HighlightsThe Jungle: an ongoing coverage project going into the notorious homeless encampment under Interstate 5.Ask Seattle's Homeless Community: KUOW is launching a Facebook group where anyone may ask a question about homelessness, but only people who have experienced it may answer. This was inspired by a recent event KUOW co-presented with Seattle Public Library and Real Change, where residents of the Jungle answered audience questions. No End In Sight: an award-winning investigative project from KUOW about King County's 10-year plan to end homelessness.

A Nurse Offers An Elegy For Her Patient

Poet and registered nurse Martha Kreiner says poetry gives her "a wider container" for reflecting on her work with people who are homeless.
Courtesy of Amy Zimmerman
Poet and registered nurse Martha Kreiner says poetry gives her "a wider container" for reflecting on her work with people who are homeless.

For the past five years, Martha Kreiner, a registered nurse and a poet, has tended to the medical needs of people living on Seattle's streets through the Healthcare for the Homeless network. The death of a patient lead Kreiner to write an elegy for him, in which she re-imagines his final moments:

I wish him much moss furring
the edge of the sidewalk his head landed on
for the last time, last week.  I wish him a mattress

of newly chipped bark to soften the slab
of dirt beneath the shrubs he stumbled in. I wish
all the landmarks he needs, he has: 

(Excerpted from "He Wanted to Die Anywhere But the Street.")  

Kreiner describes the poem to KUOW's Elizabeth Austen as a chance for "a do-over.  It's a really giant do-over, and that's often what I'm up to, because I just can't stand how it actually is, or how it actually was."

She explains what writing poems offer in the face of loss and powerlessness: "The only response I can have that's adequate is an imaginative one. Poetry is helping me in a way that nothing else can. I think art and poetry has more room in it than I personally do. It's a wider container."

Kreiner worked on the poem during her fellowship with the Jack Straw Writers Program.  Her poems have appeared in Floating Bridge Review, ILK Journal, and Hubbub. She earned an M.A. in Creative Writing from Michigan State University.