It was the being hungry that drove him as he carefully sorted through
the broken and rotting detritus that was left by me and you
he rarely found a full bag, nor ever an item that was clean
for people dispose of rubbish in disgusting ways that he used to find obscene.
He’d walked with his head held high once
– another time in the past
But a fear of the crowded, noisy hospital wards
– had shown itself at last.
He found that he couldn’t cope with the pain in the now far distant eyes
of the people who recently lost loved ones and their pleas and desperate cries.
He took off his white jacket and walked out of the ward one day
and try as he did he was never able to go back there again.
He still read books as he wanted to seem to himself at least to be trying
but it was all so many years ago and these days the hunger pain stung
and though he’d only had his street skills he had somehow survived
despite the cancer inside him that was even now eating away at his lung.
When he had enough bits that he could once again call a meal
he slipped away from the others in the street to find a quiet spot
for the one thing that he had learned almost straight away
is that anyone – anyone – will steal what little bit you’ve got.
He was used now to seeing dead bodies – as other street people died
from hunger and disease and other times – just from being alone
some of the older ones always seemed weak and so fragile
and in winter they’d often end up frozen – frozen to the bone.
The days were getting shorter now and he often felt very insecure
he knew that his lungs were getting much worse and cold would weaken them badly
the winter would bring his last days this time as he struggled so hard to cope
he’d never expected to die on the street but he’d do it now quite gladly.
©Joe Wilson – He became hungry 2014