3 April 2007

What Have We Got?

Nothing makes me sadder than homeless people, not even the end of hockey season. I saw a bunch of them shivvering on the streets of Calgary on my tv when I got home from work tonight. Motherfucking city of Calgary does not open up its emergency shelters until the temperature drops to -15 C. The temperature has only been dropping to -9 C. lately so the government pork choppers are even leaving pregnant women outside. As Biafra once sang so melodically, "Let's kill, kill, kill, kill the poor - tonight!"

Indeed, Christmas that year had none of its old-time associations; it smacked of hell rather than heaven. Empty, unlighted shops, dummy chocolates or empty boxes in the confectioners' windows, streetcars laden with listless, dispirited passengers - all was as unlike Christmastides as it well could be. In the past all the townspeople, rich and poor alike, indulged in seasonable festivity; now only a privileged few, those with money to burn, could do so, and they caroused in shamefaced solitude in a dingy back shop or a private room. In the churches there were more supplications than carols. You saw a few children, too young to realize what threatened them, playing in the frosty, cheerless streets. But no one dared to bid them welcome-in the God of former days, bringer of gifts, and old as human sorrow, yet new as the hopes of youth. There was no room in any heart but for a very old, gray hope, that hope which keeps men from letting themselves drift into death and is nothing but a dogged will to live.

Albert Camus - The Plague

The Hammer and I have walked many of the urban woods of Steepleton in the early, shivvery weeks of spring. There appear to be no fewer people living in tarp mansions than previous years. As fast as drugs, disease and the cold kill off the homeless there are more homeless created to take their place eating, shitting and shivvering in the woods.

The two of us discovered yet another underground campsite on Sunday afternoon. I skirted around it, the Hammer sniffed the cold fire and the dark plastic shelter's entrance, though there appeared to be no one sheltering beneath the big blue tarp. No one alive anyway. Just as I would in a regular campsite, I feel like I am trespassing if I walk too near another man's tent.

When we returned home I fed the Hammer and made apple sauce muffins and pizza in my warm house. I had a glass of wine. I toasted the homeless beside their small, smoky fire in the muddy woods. Then I finished the bottle. There were very, very few homeless people in the Canada I grew up in. Now we have a plague.

No comments: