I’m taking a short walk
away from Bellingham’s annual
‘Homeless Connects’ event.

“…you come too.”


One day every three-hundred and sixty-five
Social Service organizes easy access
to such luxuries as:

clean socks, second-hand shoes,
warm coats, washed clothes,
medical, dental, foot care, hair cuts,
mental health, pet care, licensing renewal,
employment referral, income tax advice,
public benefits, legal assistance, voice mail,
educational information, veteran’s services,
domestic violence counsel,
eats…bottled water…and rest rooms.


Thanks, Bellingham,

but the other 364 days?

A block or two northwest,
under Railroad Avenue
is ‘The Columns,’
an adult, ‘gated community.’
One of hundreds,
perhaps thousands,
located in cities
and most major towns.

No reservations
No registration
No “front desk”
No first, no last
no cash for deposit
no cash for damage.
Economics optional.

Centrally located
near rail or bus
chaos or lonesome anger
perhaps alcohol and drugs
a pallet-wood fire
stories…terrifying violent terrifying
failure terrifying silence terrifying
…littered with bottles and cans
and some bicycle-rider fixing a leak
“…worn out…8 flats a day worn out”
and he says it’s not “just down the hall”.
Pee bucket, TP and ‘doggie’-mitts mandatory.

 

Apprehended doing your necessities?
No need for blankets, bed roll,
tarp tent or safety.
Jail-house security will gift you
“three hots and a cot”.

 

I hear Mark,
his wobbly vast voice, lost and found
addressing an audience
of littered beer cans.
“…Reemmmm-brandt, Rousseauuu,
Raphhhaaal, Row-dann…I like any artist
whose name begins with ‘R’…”

Later I quote Mark
to my artist friend who responds,
“I’m surprised a vagrant
would know those names.”
Silence.
Both of us…
Then the avalanche:

‘Why’  is not a mystery:
…acceptance, encouragement, generosity, education, opportunity and
for tomorrow’s uncertainties…glass half-full.

…bad decision, prejudice, bitterness, anger/apathy, poverty and
for tomorrow’s uncertainties…glass half-empty.

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