A Writer of Sorts
(on being homeless in Sheffield in the 1980’s)
Among mills, warehouses, tenements;
stone blackened; cars burned; metal rusted;
Each transformed by the neglect brought by
progress. Brittle breath clouds brittle glass,
as snow creaks underfoot. Reaching up
to break and enter an abandoned
Police Station. Apt audacity
from the sanctioned and disenfranchised.
There is shelter in this metaphor.
Corridors of peeling paint. The stench
of rats and other vermin filling
lungs with a poisoned air of defeat.
Crawling through the wreckage of human
lives discarded; hypos; take outs; signs
that other victims of the decay,
abandoned this derelict building
in search of new life, or a final
willing journey to the underworld.
Exhausted, guts ripped, heart torn, searching
for small comfort among the squalor;
a respite from perdition’s sting;
he locates a clean room, cold and tiled,
a joyless aluminium table.
the faint odour of formaldehyde;
He rolls his coat to make a pillow
and sleeps on a mortuary slab.
The irony does not escape him.