No Public Safety


In her poem that author provides a sharp critique on the implications of poverty, racism and sexism. The plot of this poem is a life of a Native American homeless woman who is chronic paranoid schizophrenic. Because of her mental disability, or let’s say psychiatric oppression, she can’t take care of herself.

She sleeps in a Public Safety building and is always being stepped over. People think she is not worthy of obtaining their help or attention because in their eyes she is nothing; she doesn’t worth their money, their time, and their belongings. There is an important line in the poem: “We like to take better care of our papers, file cabinets, metal desks, plastic chairs, potted plants, poster of trees in Yosemite than an od woman”. In my opinion, this line is incredibly important, and the author emphasizes things to get over people.

They should love people and use things; nowadays it is very opposite. Things are being loved and people used, and I like the author mentioning it in her poem about an old woman who is trash in people’s eyes. Nobody takes the time to think about or ask her what is it she wants or needs. They just judge her without even knowing her and assume the worst. They say, “Anyone who doesn’t take care of themselves should be locked up”. And I like the fact the author mentioned the lawyers being not able to take care of themselves without their wives doing everything!

Here the main idea of the poem gets clear: people who judge by skin color, race, nationality and many other things that should not be important. The voice of the author is angry, emotional, passionate and critical. Chrystos is a Native American, and she feels a collective responsibility for Native people. In this poem, her voice is mad about forced invisibility and silence of Native Americans as well as their abuse by the dominant culture. The narrator’s voice throughout the whole poem is despising; despises people, their actions towards others, their values today, their inutility.

The voice judges people for loss of the real valuables in this world. The narrator tries to evoke the emotional response of reader; she leaves a message. To my mind, the narrative voice gets less furious to the end. Here it gets more calm, sorrowful and disappointed because “nowhere in the six column article/ is one word/ that Anna Mae Peoples has to say”. The vocabulary of the poem is straight and it doesn’t have so many literary devices. I found one example of allusion while reading the poem. The author compared the attitude of people to other human beings and to material objects.

And she ferociously mentioned that people like to take better care of different personal goods than an old Native American woman who is in need. Chrystos uses an ironic device to emphasize a little difference with an old woman who is mentally disabled and can’t take care of themselves and lawyers that “can take care of themselves with little help from their wives” who literally do everything! Ironically, people always think that they are independent and do not need anybody to look after them. Chrystos mocks lawyers and shows the reader the difference between what seems to be and what really is.

She also compares Anna Mae Peoples, an old, weak and mentally ill woman, to the ones that are really opposite, and accentuates how similar they are. I should mention that there is no much punctuation throughout the whole poem. This is a highlight to endless cycle of poverty and misfortune in People’s life. Overall, I found the poem very interesting and personal to the author. She wrote about things that need attention in this world: poverty, racism, sexism, and people becoming numb and ruthless. The poem suggests thinking about these problems and getting more into them, considering and clarifying the questions that Chrystos “underlined”.