Down and Out on Hay Street
There is a homeless man who sits on the stairs
of Trinity Church in the city.
He’s there every day with his nose in a book.
He’s friendlier and more approachable
than any girl in a bar.
On my lunch breaks I buy him iced coffee,
and we sit together on the stairs
and shoot the breeze for a few minutes each day.
Me in my formal business attire
with the weight of a mortgage on my shoulders,
him in an ill-fitting thrift store coat,
and a pair of KT26s
the quintessential hobo running shoe.
Once I bought him an apple from Woolworths
but he doesn’t have any teeth
and a balanced diet isn’t one of his concerns.
Actually, he has no concerns,
which is what George Orwell called
‘the great redeeming feature of poverty’.
I saw him in the Hay Street Mall tonight.
He was dancing his heart out under the Christmas lights
while a street busker played bar room tunes on a piano
and the bankers and the stockbrokers
and the neat-necked commuters and the shoppers
all hustled about their business.
He flashed his toothless grin at me as I rushed past in the throng,
swept along with the inertia of my fast-paced world,
too pressed for time and too stifled with inhibitions
to even think about losing myself in the simple joy
of dancing to music in the street.
Peter Horgan lives in Perth. He has studied for a bachelor of science and works in quality assurance. When he isn’t monitoring production lines or leafing through QA manuals, he dreams about being an artist. He’s the author of a self-published novel, but these days prefers narrative poems on the everyday experiences of city life.
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