Beggars on Lambton Quay

Today I will not speak of my impotent anger,
my self-inflicted indignation
when I saw yet more beggars
hunched like open sores on Lambton Quay.
I will not ask this indifferent and
preoccupied crowd
to feel pity
(enough with this pity which gets us nowhere)
for the ‘victims’ of the iron laws of economics,
or the erosion of basic social services,
these ‘unfortunates’ who fell
through the ever-widening cracks
and landed hard on their backsides,
on the pavement
outside James Cook Arcade or Cable Car Lane.
No, I won’t ask for empathy
from the hard-headed, practical crowds.
I will only ask that you view these beggars
for what they are;
the unflinching mirror image
of the society we have chosen to live in.
There in the slick and glittering windows,
a reflection,
the incongruous, squat figure and his cardboard plea,
the apotheosis of our cynical and threadbare
social contract.

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There is no Housing Crisis

Last night, it plunged as low as four,
boreal palms of air puckered my cheeks.
Gazing up, a cough-lozenge moon,
a radiant bas-relief of stars,
I could believe in something
that was almost an ideal,
a palpable purity just beyond reach.

Ah, smug stars, I thought,
in the winter you shimmer in arctic richness,
while I pile on extra sheets,
another jersey for good measure.
But I don’t dare switch on the heaters.
Since when did heat become
an extravagance
to thaw the toes of the well-heeled?

At least I am one of the luckier ones.
There’s a roof over my head,
four walls that stop
grim needles of wind at my door.
Tonight kids cough behind frosty car windows
in some shady domain,
a four bedroom home
downgraded to four seats and a steering wheel.

The government’s just sold off
another round of state houses,
euphemisms abound,
the buzzword on corpulent lips is market rationalization.
Well, the dead hand of the market
spreads its icy fingers wider over the city tonight.

Toasty speculators in suburban gold
dream of never-ending spiral staircases,
dreams that go up-up-up
to penthouses in the chandelier sky.
Outside in the streets,
old and young bodies,
(the euphemism is market inefficiencies)
roll over on their cardboard mattresses,
pull useless hats over their ears,
while the temperature drops like a guillotine.