The changing face of the homeless image
As a child I remember my mother pulling me to the over shadowed city streets
I was awed by old bearded handicaps
who dressed as if their wheel chair were a crashed chopper
Alcoholics, with peach core heads – scaly red skin and thin sparse yellow hair
A black junkyard crackhead revving
kicking his suitcase insisting that the “motherfucker get up”
war veterans waddling their wheeled body around
on one coral reef heel
like a flintstone firing on one piston
like a bird with one wing, flying in spirals
These sun dried, wreckage sailors of the brick work
They might have burnt sea weed hair
And fat worn out black comforter jackets in summer time
But their chemical smell and blazing jelly fish eyes
At least let you know
They were drowned.
Now, we have a variation of the peddler
The image of the homeless man has blurred
The new post apolocalyptic hippies
Trickle down out of the woodwork
Like Haight Ashbury descendants
But uglier and smarter
One is a fat black kid in a faded bubble gum jump suit
Sparking a joint by himself in Harvard Square
Beckoning a congregation through the power of wind
An oval forms around him
A low pressure system waiting to get
Another black kid with a Mohawk, denim vest, combat boots and patches
Slaps his hand
A pear shaped white girl with a greasy pony tail and generic t-shirt
Holds two bulldogs who lay comfortably on the bricks
The air stirs, thickens and settles.
Across the street is another young beggar
with clean pressed cargo pants, a hiking vest, an extra sweater aroud his waist, sunglasses, a fully packed and organized back pack, a tent, a tarp and sleeping bag
His sign reads “Spare change for a new sign”
Mocking every truly desperate man who ever needed much more than that
He pokes the crowds yelling, “Spare change for marijuana”
“spare change for a space ship to mars”
Like a game show host or sweepstakes give away announcer.
At night when the square darkens and empties
He unfolds his giant body bag and climbs into its center
Lonely under the 2 am orange lamps.
Like Ishmaels leg he sleeps inside a beached whale.
The image changes.
The Worm Town festival rat
Can trickle into the banks of Harvard Square
And on his first night there jump about the triangle
As if it were his own figure skating rink, spotlight and soapbox
And the alligator eye ball Police duo would stare at eachother in their cruiser
And say “he’s celebrating”.
If he had a Polo shirt on
They’d arrest his ass and pulls his tendons down to the station.
But instead he’s found the perfect uniform,
The truly invisible camouflage
The volunteer homeless men
blur the lines of homelessness
Making travel easy
Making freedom obscure and accessible.
Kraj ran from my hometown
Became one of the volunteer bums
Though He looks more like an amazon medicine man
With boney facial peircings, long dreadlocks, colorful eyes,
sleeveless rags and back pack drum.
His first love was smeared across a rail road track in Wisconsin
He hikes the Appalachian, follows music like a nomad
And has been sited in grocery stores, bus stations and drum circles.
Homeless? The fucking kid seems to be filled with homes,
A surplus, overflow of homes across the country side.
When he’s older and settles in a tourqouise tent in the leafy forest
Behind a car wash or supermarket
And like letting go of a penny into a fountain pool
He drops acid so he can wash Blood Off the Tracks
Don’t bulldoze his vinyl mansion
Kraj carries with him no shield
And He would not want the mice plowed into the field