“Everyone knows me here,” he chatted, Newcastle thick in his accent though he’d left it ten years past.
He reached to kiss the hand of the lass who’d come to ask what they needed for the immediate.
She’d been bitten by the same systems that kept them out here.
Couldn’t bring much other than some coffee and some company.
“You’re so good, coming by here each day…
Look, long-tails” he pointed to the rat not far away, ‘they’re getting brave’.
She could see his Celtic hand curled uneven like the stray hair from under his beanie,
And not for the first time she wondered how his smile could stay that warm
When all his seams ran so ragged they had torn.
Her walking stick ticked by her heels as she followed the streets where he sleeps home.
He’d weathered this city and its criticisms,
Seen kids more than half his age struggle with rent to pay,
Made shelters of empty doorways, then always morning came and he was turned away.
Passing empty houses, more than she could count, swearing out loud, feeling fettered by everything
She remembered what he’d said:
“It’s not over yet.”
© 2016 Alyx Tamminen
Alyx Tamminen is a spoken word crossover performance poet, her verse characterised by its edgy and street tone.