He sleeps in rotting blankets in a cold cobbled doorway, trading baseball bat beatings for street junkies and drunks. “Seventeen and lethal”, that’s what they called him when they tossed him out. They said he was “stinking and useless”, like the chip papers he crushes to plug up his boots when it rains.
He travels light, everything bundled into an old nylon bag, which houses the pair of socks given by the Salvation Army, a photos of a woman he dreams is his Mum, and a red parka he lifted from the ambulance case is crawling with fleas and lets in the wind.
He’s got Smarties dropped by a kid in a pram and eight fag ends that he rations to three drags a day. His pillow came courtesy of Bob from the shelter. It’s got teeth marks from the rats that creep round at night, and blood from that cough he just can’t seem to shift.
He keeps a can of cheap strong cider in his hand, emergency anesthetic, saved for a time when it gets really bad. Sometimes he does glue, but it’s only a bit, just to soften the edges, cause every day is the same, everyday that he lives he scrapes the shit from his trousers and the hunger from his mind.
He shows me Jesus, hanging from the Cross, hung around his neck. “Didn’t you know that all the great religious leaders were homeless?”. He is Moses, as a sea of people part, stepping around him, as he reads to me his poem:
Descending into hell
enveloped by screams and stench,
witnessing the anguish of eternity,
we arrived in wretchedness,
as if in a nightmare.
as if in a godless church
observers’ of each body’s lurch,
we saw, heard, and felt the suffering.
We defined Death’s meaning
gazed upon by 1,000 empty stares,
cruel lack of human visitation,
denial of affection,
omnipresence of rejection,
to wander, to roam, but always alone,
alone, alone, alone…
We saw in the 1,000 pairs of eyes,
staring closed and cast downward
fingers tapping messages of despair
on grates, on doors, on windows,
in puddles of drool and urine.
we heard the screams
we saw and heard
the last victim,
her hands folded,
her head bowed
whispering in prayer.
He falls silent, as it starts to snow.