This Is Not About Fashion


People romanticise the rain
He wishes he could be one of those people
But he has no work if it rains
It has been raining a lot this autumn

He is already behind on rent and bills
Who would have thought that thieves would rob the down trodden
His flat has been ransacked empty
The Neighbourhood Centre gave him some non perishable food

Winter comes early this year
He needs a padded jacket to fend off the chilly mornings
He also needs underwears and socks
There is a dilemma in Kmart menswear
But given the priority of necessity
He is going commando

Scars We Don’t See

Thank you to MasticadoresIndia for publishing one of my short stories Original post here

Morning ma’am what can I offer you today? I paused, you looked familiar. I recognised the scar across your forehead and the missing front tooth when you squeezed out a smile.

You don’t recognise me? Cindy! My name is Cindy. The Neighbourhood Centre found us a unit and I scrubbed up.

Oh Cin! O-M-G! I couldn’t recognise you. You… you look good Cin. It daunted on me that you were the homeless lady hung around my cafe with two kids, a boy and a girl.

Let me make you a coffee. What would you like? My shout to celebrate, you got a home now. That’s a big deal.

Oh no Patricia, thanks for the offer. I won’t take up your time. Just wanna see do you need a helper in the kitchen? Like unloading deliveries, washing dishes, taking the trash out? I, ah, I can’t do the front house duties cos my tooth… My kids are going to school now just around the corner. They can walk to school by themselves. I got free time to work, and I can do with some money to get some stuff for the unit.

Uhm, look Cin, I don’t really need any helper cos my older boy is doing the kitchen hand stuff. But he got into uni, it’s starting soon. How about you come in tomorrow at noon to do a work trial, and I’ll cut him a bit slack. I’m sure he’d be happy to hang out with his mates.

Oh, sure sure…thank you sooo much. I’ll be here before twelve tomorrow. You’re an angel Patricia. You cupped your hands to your face and almost shouting.

That’s alright Cin…and call me Trish. Patricia is just a bit troubling…you know, I laughed and winked.

Ok, ok Trish, boss lady! You chuckled with your hand covering your mouth to hide the missing tooth.

You came almost half an hour before midday in the same white shirt and black pants you wore yesterday. The cafe was quite busy with almost all tables needed clearing from the mid-morning rush. You had dived straight in taking empty plates, cups and cutleries to the kitchen and came back with an apron on to spray and wipe down the tables. You kept your head down avoiding eye contact with the customers leaving the cafe. You worked pretty swiftly, and I was thankful that you turned up early.

First day of work trial, you did good, only with a moment or two spacing out. I attributed it to that you had been out of work for a long time, it might take some time to readjust. I asked you to come back the next day but not promising a job. Being a small business owner and a single mother, I had learned to put my little family first and not making promises that I couldn’t keep.

That day was the third day of the work trial. In reality, I needed someone who can do the front and the back of the cafe. But I knew what this job would mean to you as a mother, and to your finance. I was contemplating to offer you 11am to 2pm shifts on weekdays. That would cover some food prep and cleaning up for the lunch rush which would free up me and the two girls for customer service and the till. I was going to tell you at the end of the day.

Then that happened. I saw you spacing out in the middle of slicing mushrooms, then you were pacing around the kitchen while the chef had to stop in the middle of cooking some sauce to ask if you were ok. It took you a while to snap back into reality. You walked back to the bench and kept slicing mushrooms. I was taken by what I saw. Call it a woman’s instinct, I knew something was wrong with you neurologically.

I took you outside to have some fresh air. I wasn’t going to give you some lame excuse for not offering you a job. I told you straight about my concerns. I figured I owed you that decency. You opened up to me and told me drugs and alcohol abuse damaged your brain. Even you had been drug and alcohol free for a while, but the damage was done from teenage years and it’s irrevocable.

I hugged you and cried. The scar you carried on your forehead, or the missing tooth were just damages people saw, the damage inside was a lot more profound.

Wilted Flower

She once was adorable
for being the girl
fogets the punchline
for being clumsy
around the kitchen

Infauation put her
on a pedestal

Now
she is intolerable
for being the same girl
forgets the punchline
She is slapped around
and called useless
for being clumsy
around the kitchen

Love is a cold vase
housing a wilted flower

Dissapointment

I used to fantasise about retirement life
Playing cards
Reading books and people watching in a cafe
Strolling along the beach
with my kitty on a leash

Today
I don’t want to get old
I don’t want to live in a senior unfriendly world
I would hate to be told to go online to do everything
I would hate to be treated like I am void of knowledge, intelligence or experience

Today
I don’t like humans
I see doom and gloom of this sterile world
And I am too tired to even take responsibility of my own actions

Today
I give up
Before the seniors do

A Lost Battle

Her own teeth grinding sound woke her up. She moved her jaws and some saliva brought on the mild sweet taste. Her eyes gradually opened to the daylight piecing through the treetop. It’s only just after ten, she checked her phone, no messages. This is normal for an unwanted waste of space. She tried to get up from the hardwood park bench. Her neck and back were aching. The fucking methadone knocked me out again, she cussed. Her eyes met with a pair of doll eyes belong to a toddler with curly hair. Her face suddenly got slapped by a little thick palm. Boo the toddler uttered covering the doll eyes with two tiny chubby hands. The hands ran down from the doll eyes to the nose, on to the lips, smearing the dribbles all over the face and the giggling doll eyes never left her face. Boo the little monkey called out again with upmost enthusiasm. She covered her eyes and called out peek-a-boo to the curly hair. This caused more giggles rippled out on the playground. The retiree moved in fast and took the hand of the doll eyes, pulling away from her. She saw the retiree’s cautious fake smile. She gave back a fake smile and started walking out the playground.

That was all too familiar to her. She knew she was clean and tidy these days. So, she could not have been mistaken to be a homeless outcast. Then why the fuck people still gave her the look. Yes, that look, the fucking not sure what to do look. She thought it was the dole recipient depressing aura that she was wearing. Everywhere she went, people stayed away. She saw through people. She knew she was not dumb, on the contrary, she was street smart. She ran the phone for her mum’s strip party business in 6th grade. She had an adventurous life by stripping and travelling. If it wasn’t for the heroin addiction, she would still be having a good life.

She got on a bus without destination. Her daily luxury was the $2.50 flat rate pensioner’s travel. She leaned her head to the window looking out to a world she once belonged. Watching the school children waiting at the bus stop mucking around, she imagined her baby will be one of them, being well adjusted to this world. She was in two minds of getting the custody back. She had remained clean for almost two years so she had a good chance to regain the full custody. It had been a numb and lonely two years. She visited her local chemist daily to get her methadone doses. She was drugged up to her eye ball every day. The only difference between methadone and heroin was she felt low all the time. She kept fighting for the chance of being with her baby again. Now when the fighting was almost over, she felt the dread of not being able to dash across the finishing line. She felt so tired, so drained and so incapable of looking after herself left alone her child. The fear of letting her baby down again tormented her day and night. She was waiting to be judged as an incompetent mother and sentenced to a lonely low life, a constant living hell.

She got off the bus and walked towards the scenic cliff walk. The blank state of her mind led her all the way to the cliff top where tourists were posing and taking selfies.

“Breaking news today, a Sydney ex high paid escort killed herself by jumping the Gap in front of a group of Japanese tourists close to noon. It is reported she has been fighting to regain the custody of her six-year old son who is under the foster care system. Cassandra reporting from the Nine Network.”

Sydney Homelessness

I am reposting this as the Sydney street count is fast approaching this month (August 2019).

 

373 people sleeping rough around the inner city on the night of February 19.

I was there counting…

Their faces rushing to me like the dying souls swallowing by the swamp
Their stories I had heard playing like vinyl records

I ain’t got mama ain’t got nothing, papa’ s punches driving me scatty…
If you licked it and you liked it, a couple pearly dewdrops will get you high and die in ecstasy…
I was raised crooked in a dungeon, the city street lights are bright and shiny, it’s so much safer…
Not going back that sty, slave to two pigs from a mode. God I hate them sweet Jesus…
I am a failure as the financial crisis. I have sold my soul to the grog, 10 seconds sober to see my princess walking in school…
When Mama died she prayed God would take me. Now I am here and I don’t know why. Where is my Mommy…
My Dad needs help, he is all schizoed out. My mates can’t help, the weed can’t help…

I was there counting…

One by one the forgotten in our city
The stories were told
None has changed

373 people sleeping rough around the inner city on the night of February 19.