As I passed the debris of Occupy Seattle, I saw five bottles lined up on a ledge and considered the problems of being homeless.
Besides the cold and hunger,
Besides being wet or frozen,
Is what to do with that bottle of pee.
How do you keep clean when your hands get splashed and the bottle isn't clean. How do you keep from smelling of urine all the time?
Cologne and perfume is a prized commodity among the homeless still trying, it will mask some of the smell.
And how much can you carry, all the time? It's cheaper to buy big bottles of shampoo and soap, sure, but how can you carry those around with you?
Where can you get rest?
Hit the road, Jack, is a constant song heard by the homeless.
Get a job is another.
How do you get computer time to do it?
How do you get clean clothes to wear or the money to get there?
It can be cheaper to buy new clothes at a thrift store than wash what you have.
How do you get to the interview?
How do they make contact with you?
For most homeless, if they are lucky enough to have some income, their cell phone is the only home they have, and they are often scorned for having that.
But the homeless have friends
When their social credit has been used up or their pride forbids asking for more they still need to keep in touch,
with family, friends, agencies that can help,
To be homeless in most communities makes you a criminal. To sit in the street, to beg, to sleep on someone's property can all land you in jail.
We, the comfortable, protect ourselves by saying its their fault. If only, we say, they weren't...they hadn't...
And why are we helping them? If they weren't...if they hadn't...they wouldn't need our help.
And I, the good person, the one who has followed society's rules should get the reward, should get it all.
If only they hadn't gotten sick
and lost their jobs and their benefits
If only they hadn't been abused as child
they wouldn't have landed in juvey and been a criminal
If only they were strong enough to never reach for relief from life's problems
or have sex with strangers
If only they were perfect, like me.
And didn't waste their resources on dinners and drinks and casinos, like me.
If only the never quarreled with their family over things past or get fired, like me.
They wouldn't have any problems, just like me
So why should I be told to care?
---By Carla Blaschka, 12/10/11
Written at Richard Hugo House alongside PurpleMark Wirth and Zoe Omega.
Write By The Park Prompts:
- Things seen on the street
- Songs being played