ON THE STREET

When I was a kid, I don’t know how old I was, but I used to dream about running away. I used to dream that I was in the bush in a bit of a clearing and pitch my tent which was smart carmade up of my quilt. It wasn’t clear if I had walked or drove there but there I was pitching up my quilt for a tent. Then one time I had the same type of dream but this time I was driving a small car only big enough for one person. To my left was a small amount of space for things like a bag. Today, that type of car is a reality! It amazes me because I dreamt about it so long ago.

For a long time, I have had a heart for the homeless. There have been a few people over mum and kids sitting on sidewalkthe years who I have helped out when they had nowhere else to go except for the streets. I, myself, would have been on the street about 18 months ago had it not been for my sister having a caravan I could borrow (they’d had it up for sale) and my parents having space for me to put it. Up until then, I was contemplating living in my car because I had nowhere else to go. The stark reality is once you are homeless, it is really hard to get back up. So, I am forever grateful to those who were in a position to be able to help me at that particular time of my life.

When I was roughly 15 years old, I had another dream, one where I built a place where sign everyone should have a homehomeless people could get help to find jobs, have showers, sleep and get a feed. It was a vision of a cross between a homeless shelter and a community centre. There is so much to this vision that I am not going to share though. However, ever since I first dreamt it, I have wanted to build this place but I have not had the opportunity, or been blessed with finances to fund something like that……yet.

You see, it’s like this – if a one person car I dreamt about when I was a kid has become a girl with signreality (albeit via someone else’s hands), then there is no reason why this second dream couldn’t become a reality also. But hopefully, this one will be via my own hands. It breaks my heart every time I see a homeless person, or I hear that one of my friends is living on someone’s lounge (or lounge-hopping between places) because they have nowhere else to go. Not only do I want to help them with their immediate needs such as food and clothing, I want to help them up.

I was so affected by this dream, and dreamt it often, that it led me to write a poem about a person living on the street. It was strung together on what limited knowledge I had as a sign i am homeless because19 year old. In it, I tried to empathise on how I would feel or see things if I was homeless. With so much more attention being raised in the public forum about the impact of homelessness and the lengths our city representatives have gone to cover up the true extent of it all, I re-read my poem and realised just how well I did at portraying a plausible homeless person’s life. Our country’s leaders are still trying to down play the serious the issue of homelessness is. With Australia’s ever-growing expense of everyday living, the poverty line is being pushed up. Ten years ago, $45,000 a year income was a wealthy wage, now it is almost impossible to live solely on that amount. I know because I have to live within that budget. It’s do-able, but hard.

With no further ado, I would like to share my poem with you. It was written in 1993 when I was 19 years old, and is aptly titled……..

person wrapped in blanket on bench in snow“On The Street”

He lives on the street
And sleeps on the bench
Or if he’s lucky,
In the odd cardboard box
He may come across.
He feeds from the bins
And at the shelter
When it’s open.
His only security
And his only friend
Being the bottle of liquor
That he carries.
He staggers from corner to corner
And through street after street,
old mans faceWondering where his life went
And if it’s even
Worth living.
Loneliness surrounds him every day
And his never ending depression
Is etched on his face
For passers-by to see
And know where he’s been.
His handouts are wasted
On his dear old friend
Who makes him feel warm and wanted
And stops the pain
Of his unrelieving solitude
And brings him comfort
When he remembers
Nobody loves him.
Nothing and no-one
Seems to help him more
shoes with holesOr care for him more
Than that bottle.
He possessively holds it close
As if it were a precious jewel,
Never letting it go
And never setting it down
For a second
For the fear of it being stolen.
His clothes are torn and dirty
And his shoes are worn,
Showing years of wear and tear.
He hasn’t had a shower for months.
Flies, they follow him,
But he’s not bothered by them.
His days are long,
But his life is short lived.
crossHe dies on the street
Like many before him.
But there’s no-one at his funeral.
Nobody sheds a tear.
Nobody knows.
Nobody cares.
—– written by Allison Rose Clark 1993 (c) —–

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