Listen & Peruse
The shelters weren’t open last night and it was so cold,
I was afraid to go to sleep because I didn’t think I would wake up.
What is the word for wanting to go home and having no home?
The text of this piece is the verbatim Facebook status of my dear friend Coco after a long, cold night in February of 2020. At the time they posted this, they were homeless and sleeping in an unheated van. In Springfield, MO, the current guidelines set by the Continuum of Care only open the shelters when the temperature is forecast to be 32 degrees or less for four or more overnight hours, without any consideration for windchill or precipitation. Medical science tells us hypothermia can begin to set in at temperatures below 40 degrees for people who are not dressed for the weather, and at even higher temperatures when people are wet. Thus, it is in fact entirely possible to freeze to death on nights that are too warm for the emergency cold weather shelters to open. The musical setting attempts to capture the haunting fear, the crystalline, malicious cold, and the anger and despair of having nowhere to go home. It can be performed with a musique concrète introduction featuring the voices of the unsheltered, or as a stand alone piece. – Katie Kring
Coco is a survivor of over a decade of collective homeless experience, domestic violence, and addiction. They have ridden the rails, slept in vans, tents, and trap houses, overcame addiction, been locked up for petty poverty crimes, and parented some terrific children. Throughout, they have remained a loving parent, a brilliant writer and communicator, and a fierce advocate for justice for those experiencing poverty and marginalization.