Always in the way, in line of sight, a breed apart littering the streets like inconvenient broken bags of warn out clothes and rain-soaked cardboard. It’s all right to ignore them; they brought it on … themselves Our way is best. Respect earned the hard way. Why can’t they see the virtue of a Protestant ethic? These foreigners, incomers, low caste, outcast, black brown, yellow, red, native, all comers and, yes … white entitled upstarts get fat and lazy; love bossing the blind like the noble Shire who, blinkered, cannot see the whip like slaves, to earn their keep, their salt, their corn or cotton know their place, like goldfish in an unfurnished bowl … uneducated! Wondering why they seem to know nothing; have nothing? A disadvantaged cerebral cortex, almost unconscious of their need for help that rarely comes in time, save a coin, for a cup of makeshift anaesthesia, a sort of … solution. Aren’t we all strangers. Each of us an insular spec on this precious Earth, a mote in the eye of the universe, plagued by starvation, strife, poverty, climate and tears corruption, indifference, immunity to hardship … greed Do you see eye to eye on every issue with your friends? agree with your neighbours on the way to keep house? Do they agree with you, will they ever, will you ever? How then can broken, ragged human life be so … different? But they do! They do work hard to stay alive. Deprived of something, maybe a failed family, diminishing vision of a life fulfilled, but lost somewhere along the way. There but for a mutation of genes, environment and fortune … forbidden.
The title was inspired by the lyrics of Paul Simon’s song ‘Homeless’, a collaboration with Ladysmith Black Mambazo on the Graceland album in 1986. The alternative refrain to “homeless, homeless …” half way through the song is “Strong wind destroy our home, many dead, tonight it could be you.”
Poem ©2020 John Anstie
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