By Lori Spencer
Screen Poet's tent and home at the Occupy OKC encampment by courtesy Occupy OKC official Facebook page
You say you feel my pain
You don't even know what pain is.
-- Untitled final poem by Street Poet
Oklahoma City -- After spending the last three weeks in Oklahoma City covering the Occupy OKC encampment, I was shocked to learn of Street Poet's passing yesterday. It just didn't seem possible that this talented, loving young man whom I had known for just ten days could be taken away so suddenly.
The man we all called "Street Poet" was about 18 years old and homeless. He said he had spent a lot of time in foster care growing up. In his final days, he had complained about asthma attacks in the morning. He showed no other signs of physical or mental health problems, drug addiction, or suicidal tendencies. He was a joyous presence in Occupy OKC.
Street Poet was discovered unresponsive in his tent by another camper around 2:45 on the afternoon of Halloween. There was no blood, or signs of trauma. No alcohol, street drugs or drug paraphernalia by his bedside. It is generally believed that Street Poet passed sometime during the night, as rigor mortis had already set in by the time his body was found.
"Due to the victim's young age and because the body was unattended at the time of death, we are currently processing this as a crime scene," said Lt. Kevin Barnes of the Oklahoma City Police Department. "It appears he died of natural causes, but the medical examiner will ultimately determine the cause of death. We are conducting an extensive investigation and making every effort to figure out what caused this young man to die."
Homicide detectives worked into the night at Kerr Park, site of the downtown OKC occupation, looking for clues. Police cordoned off the tent city area in the plaza's mezzanine, while allowing occupiers to remain in the lower level of the park. Once the crime scene investigation was concluded, campers were allowed to return to their tents. But one tent was now conspicuously missing from the family circle.
Here is one of his recent poems:
It is so hard to find help
out in the world
When the world doesn't care.
My life is like an open book