Motes & Orts


mote noun
(nontechnical usage) a tiny piece of anything
ort[awrt] noun
Usually, orts. a scrap or morsel of food left at a meal.
1400–50; late Middle English; cognate with Low German ort, early Dutch oorete; compare Old English or- out-, ǣt food

Wednesday 9 March 2016
It was dark. Dark, something like the hours just passed the full sun-set. It was warm, comfortable.
I was Homeless, of sorts, living on The Bronx River. I had a little some-kind-of-shed or something. Like a bungalow or something. But I was clean, fine, I’d been there a while and it was fine.
Mama came to see me, to visit. She was dying, of lung cancer. I knew it but she didn’t know that I knew. She’d come to see me before she died. She sat in a chair, back to the river. We were in a clearing of some sort. Across the river was the play-ground… “Shoelace Park” or something similar. A cross between Shoelace Park and French Charlie’s. She wore a dark dress and had a light, white sweater on. It blew lightly in the breeze.
We’d been talking. I don’t know about what, I think it was about cancer and doctors and hospitals and death.
I ha to take a walk, to clear my head, my mind, my heart. I left her sitting on the chair and started to walk. She was under the impression that I had someplace that I had to go to and waited for me to come back.
I walked up the opposite side of the river, along a park-like area of lawn and some trees. A black “plastic netting” sort of fencing had been put up. It bowed in the breeze as I walked along. There were a few people there, in the park-like area. Just a few people. But in the darkness, I really couldn’t tell who they were. Men, just walking along, pretty much like I was walking along.
I wanted so much to cry, to weep, to sob, but I couldn’t. And as I walked along, I talked, aloud, to Mama. I told her that I knew what was happening to her. I told her that I didn’t know why she wouldn’t tell me what she was suffering with. “You’re born and then you die.” I said, aloud, as I walked. “That’s all. There’s nothing in between, nothing else. It’s what we do. It’s what we ALL do. We’re born and then we die. There’s nothing else. I know this. I KNOW IT!” That was pretty much all I could say, and I said it aloud, not caring if anybody else could hear me as the strangers walked by, past me, in the opposite direction. Nobody was walking in the same direction. I was headed “North”, toward the stone bridge… (either French Charlie’s or the Gun Hill Rd. bridge, that part was ambiguous).
When I got to the bridge, it was full of people… Black people. They were having some kind of picnic or party. Everybody was eating fried chicken. There were adults and kids and they’d packed the bridge and were even sitting up on the wall. I had to climb up on the wall to walk by them. They were playing music and laughing and having a grand time. As I stepped up onto the wall of the bridge, they started leaving, giving me room so that just before I got half-way across, I could come down off the wall and continue on the bridge. I waited, giving them the space and opportunity to pass. They smiled at me and said “Hi.” as I walked and they left. And they left, in the opposite direction. Nobody was moving in the same direction as I was walking.
On the other side, I walked back along the river and back to Mama. She was still sitting in the chair, in a clearing, on compacted soil. She was comfortable sitting there, as if it was suppose to be like that. And it was even darker now. There was some light coming from some-where. A misty sort of dim, white light, coming from the direction of the trees off the side of the river bank.
The sadness in my heart, seeing here sitting there alone, was SO PAINFUL! To see her here, with me, knowing that she’d come to see me, it was INCREDIBLY HEAVILY PAINFUL IN MY CHEST! Knowing that as she sat there, she was being devoured by cancer… eaten alive by cancer. The PAIN of the SADNESS was SO HEAVY! She was dying, even as she sat there, with me.
She didn’t turn to look at me and she spoke, quietly:
“You’re born and then you die.” she told me. “That’s all. There’s nothing else. There’s nothing in between. There’s nothing else. You’re born and then you die. But there’s no sense being sad or sorry about it. There’s nothing else. It’s what we do. It’s what we ALL do.”
I stood, in silence, beside her, not saying or showing that I knew about her cancer. I waited for her to tell me.
She smiled a bit and said “I smell biscuits. What is it?”
“Black people.” I said, just as a matter of fact.
As I said so, sure enough, a family, Black woman, tall, slender, well-dressed and groomed, with 3 or 4 little girls, also finely dressed, came along the other bank, across from us. They were laughing, smiling, and they had baskets of biscuits and bowls of chips. One little girl came over, across a bridge, to give some to Mama. Mama smiled and thanked the little girl and the little one went scurrying back to her family.
“Oh, that smells so good.” Mama said, delighted.
It got much darker rather suddenly, and very silent. Mama started to speak after the silence. She spoke, SO ANGRILY!
“You see this fucking shit? You see this fucking shit? THIS is what they did to me! This is what they’re telling me!DO YOU SEE THIS FUCKING SHIT? THIS IS WHAT THEY’RE DOING TO ME!”
She would say “what” was being “done to her” and she wouldn’t say “who”. But I knew she meant the doctors. And she didn’t know that I knew about the cancer and I didn’t tell her. I let her tell me what she wanted me to know.
The PAIN! The horrible PRESSURE on my chest, in my heart, my soul, my being. It suffocated me. It was a weight on my chest. It was a miserably heavy weight, suffocating me… the weight of knowing and for some reason not being able to tell her that I knew along with the knowing that there was nothing that I COULD do, for her, to “save” her, to make it easier for her to bear, or to make it all simply “not be”. It was all SO HEAVY, so burdensome, so painful.

I watched the grey, cement, “Romanesque” building move off into the distance behind the bus as I looked out the back window. The “Dollar Savings Bank”. It was night… late night. A mixture of snow and rain fell from the night sky.
“That’s nice,” I thought as I watched the bank move father away, “at least it’s the Dollar bank and not the Dime. She deserved better than a dime.”
I was leaving.
Mama was dead. She’d died there, on a bed, in the empty parking lot, in the night, in the snow/rain that was falling as I left. She’d died there and that’s where she was to be left. I was on a bus, alone, and I was leaving.

The bus pulled into a bus depot. I changed buses and got onto a commuter sort of bus, like a Short Line or Greyhound. I was heading for Beacon or some-where around there. And it was night, snow/rain falling all around. When I got on the bus, I saw my reflection in the window. My hat was covered in slushy snow. I turned the brim down and let the slush drop down my back. A little when down my neck.
An elderly woman standing in front of me, in the row of seats in front of me, saw the slush fall from my hat and glanced out the window and said, to everybody on the bus and to nobody at all “Look what we’re going to have for CHRISTMAS!” referring to the snow. she said, into her mobile phone.
And the bus rolled along, we came to an intersection. The road turned to the right and just beyond the turn, it forked. I tried to look out the front window but in the dark and the snow/rain I couldn’t quite make out the street sign. The name of the street, in a script-like print, with the name of some city in New Jersey.
“Where ARE we?” I asked nobody in particular.
“167th Street.” some woman’s voice called to me.
“167th Street? In what city?” I asked. I some-how knew we were in New Jersey, and that we had to pass through New Jersey to get to where I was heading, but I was suddenly un-sure of being on the right bus.
I woke… just woke from the dream… no panic or pain… just woke at 1.42.

To enlarge image for better reading, click on it.

xmashomelessborderWednesday 24 December: 132homeless/101shelter
8:18pm 5w-101 D18 Christmas Eve. – Finally in the dorm, before eating, I went across the hall to the little face basin where I washed socks and under-wear. – Keith came by to chat as I prepared the 2 left-over chicken patties from last night (splitting 2 rolls, applying a bit of mustard from the squeeze bottle, slapping a pattie on each… and calling it “my daily meal”). – 8:58pm Rey (17) is on his bed, on the phone. Rich(16) is out of the room (and probably out of the building) again. There’s been no sign of CW. Him? I hope he’s OK where-ever he is. Me? I’ve taken my sleep aids. Hopefully they’ll be able to work through the whole night, with-out interruption. I’ve set my alarm (my little cell phone alarm) for 5:30am tomorrow morning. No “holiday” for me. I have to get to work, and on Christmas, the transport runs on some “holiday schedule” which means WORSE that any and every other day. – And so, this is Christmas Eve in the Bellevue Men’s Shelter. Where’s Jesus Christ now? Where’s the “Messiah”? Who died on what cross for what reason and for whom? Yeah… Right. Homeless people… Homeless people, in a Homeless “shelter”, on Christmas Eve. Does it get any better than this? I doubt it.

Thursday, 25 December: 133/102
10:05am Back at work, “early Christmas morning” (to quote a Cindy Lauper lyric). – Christmas? What the Hell? What the difference? None. I haven’t the time, the place, the patience nor the mood. “Peace on earth, good will toward…” whom? This isn’t “jaded”, nor is it “bitter”. This is simply… the “fact”. While others “deck their halls” there are thousands of us, out here, with no halls or, for the fortunate ones, sleep in halls. And as I sit here, watching these people making merry, I can’t help but think: Homeless… and they have no idea, no clue, and I say nothing about the matter. If they knew, if anybody knew, I’d have no job, and no chance of ever making my way out of this. And I’ve no doubt, at all, that I’d be thrown out of the very houses where I go to “help” those in their time of need. Their “Jesus” was, to be honest, “Homeless”. But that was him and I am me, and the Homeless today are a scourge. Oh well… Thus is the world today. – 6:58pm I made 2 peanut butter and cream cheese sandwiches (the cream cheese from when? Tuesday?) If I’m sick, I’ll know that cream cheese doesn’t do well in the locker for that long. – … on “their holiday” of “merry”. It might be kind to say that I care… but when I look round me here, the locker, the metal bed, the empty walls, the echoing halls, the lunatics… to say that I “care” would be a blatant lie, and, after all, ’tis “Xmas”! Perish the very thought of lying… today!) A bit of some kind of chocolate drink to go with and wash down the sandwiches. And so, the menu for this “Christmas dinner”. – 7:28pm This morning I thought: How lovely that those who’ve loved me so much for so long haven’t even looked for me. To them, I’m dead and gone. To me, I’m dead and alone. Here, these idiots keep in touch with “friends” and “family and at the end of each and every day, and yet, this shelter is where they lay their head. Loved so much. What bleating BS! – Now I’m sneezing and my tummy’s cramping. No time to be sick!JournalDays-framed I’ve done (almost) a 29-hour week WITH holiday pay! I’m going for a brass ring! Screw and to Hell with the world! “If I should die before I wake…” I won’t miss tomorrow! – Merry frigging Christmas and to all a good riddance.
©Judah Kessler 2015
Neither part nor whole may be reproduced in any manner or fashion with-out written permission of the author. Any violation will be understood as intentional and prosecuted to the fullest extent allowable by all applicable laws.

There is something in the evening light
when the days grow long and the sun grows warm
and the breezes blow cool against the face,
there is something in the sound of the rustle of leaves
and the gentle stillness that fills the World
with a hush of heart and a calm of soul
that sends my heart back
many, so many years.

And I am in the park again
alone and waiting
on the off-chance you’ll walk by
or maybe
if I’m fortunate this evening
stop to talk
or just sit a while
with me.

I’ve been about this Earth
to places so far, so very, very far from there,
and always
there is something in the evening light
when the days grow long and the sun grows warm
and the breezes blow cool against the face,
that brings me back
to the park again
where I walked alone waiting
and hoping
and watching.

And I sit beside you
late at night
half asleep
but happy, truly happy
to be by your side.
And again I half hear your voice as I drift:
“I think we should take the opportunity when we have it.
What do you think?”
you said.

Wanting nothing more than to agree with you
I sleepily replied
“I agree. Oh yes, I agree.”

You turned to the your side to face me,
leaned forward a bit toward,
raised your hands,
took hold of my face
drew closer still
brought your face to mine
and …
kissed me ever so carefully…
ever so care-full-ly.

I am weak, remembering now,
as weak now as at that moment.
I heard my heart weep out loud,
it had no where to hold all that elation.
It wept
as my soul leaped from my body
to dance on the air, in the dark, under the moon
with the stars.
And I cried…
and I cry.

There is something in the evening light
when the days grow long and the sun grows warm
and the breezes blow cool against the face,
there is something in the sound of the rustle of leaves
and the gentle stillness that fills the World
with a hush of heart and a calm of soul
that brings my heart back
and I want to cry like that

Forty-three years have passed.
I am no longer spritely, young and so.
Forty-three years of time and age
and ageing
and older
and older still.

But forty-three years and still
there is something in the evening light
when the days grow long and the sun grows warm
and the breezes blow cool against the face,
there is something in the sound of the rustle of leave
and the gentle stillness that fill the World
with a hush of heart and a calm of soul
that reminds me that I have truly Loved
and once upon a time
forty-three years ago
I was Loved.

And forty-three years today…
Dear Denis
it’s all very much
the same
forty-three years ago.

©Judah Kessler 2014
Neither part nor whole may be reproduced in any manner or fashion with-out written permission of the author. Any violation will be understood as intentional and prosecuted to the fullest extent allowable by all applicable laws.

For the most part it was a normal Monday morning. No shit. No time. Unlike other mornings, this time I tossed tooth-brush/paste, deodorant. Gave shampoo to Tony. He got my other wheeled duffle. Cruz got the extra shelter pillow. Tony kept wishing me well. Said I was the perfect room-mate. I’ll miss that room. – Showered. Dressed. Re-packed the plastic bag for me. Emptied the locker. All was done. I left alone… alone… my entire Life… alone. – Out the front door. Nr.5 pulled in at 28th almost immediately. Off to Zuccotti Park. Occupy Wall Street.
Submitted on 2011/10/24 at 9:35 18

*Monday 24 Octobre: It was an “un-reality” this morning. The actuality of the day felt “distant”, some-how removed from me, from my body, from my person. I was aware of what was about to happen. I was aware of what I had to do. I moved, mechanically, just moved. A clang of a locker door, the echoing of the walkie-talkie down the hall, the clang of something in a garbage can, the howl of a voice with no reason or cause or purpose. A dead-line imposed. Somebody else’s dead-line at 8, my dead-line. I simply moved along some invisible time-line. To the loo. Behind a wooden stall door that didn’t bolt so it could be opened, accidentally by some stranger, oblivious to my presence, or a “security guard” who noticed my cigarette smoke rising in the space above me. I peed, but as usual, could not eliminate the remains of yesterday’s “nourishment”. There was no time. My body cramped in the normal morning anxieties. I brushed my teeth in the lead-heavy water. I returned to my bed, wondering if, in my absence, a stranger had crept into the room in silence and had taken my pillow, my towel, my few belongings. All was there, as I’d left it. Ariel (“the old man”, E2) stood in front of me. “Is it today that you are leaving? Will you be back?” I snapped at him, “Yes I’m leaving, no I’m not coming back! And I’m rushed here!” I grabbed towel, soap, shampoo, I went across the hall to the one shower available for 30-some others. The “hot” water was cool. I bathed, quickly, towelled dry, returned to the room. Mechanically, I dressed, checked the locker. All was emptied. Tony, E1, commented “Good luck. You’re gonna be fine.” I grabbed the plastic bags, 1 containing storage, the other containing the fleece blankets that were going to Occupy Wall Street. Silently, I walked out the door, open now because previously, in anger, I’d pushed it with such force I’d pulled the closing mechanism from it. My “mark”. It was a normal departure. Nothing remarkable. Just another Homeless case leaving the Homeless shelter. I said good-bye to the quiet “security” guard as I waited for the one lift. She just looked at me. The lift arrived, I boarded, oblivious to anyone else. On the first floor I walked past the Operations and security offices, past the DHS “police” and, in silence, through the door into the final NYC morning. I knew where I was, where I was going, how to go… I didn’t care. I moved forward… just moved forward. The “end” was beginning.
Submitted on 2011/10/26 at 9:10 07

At 28th Street, the Dyer pulled in. Well, NYC transit running normal… The express running local. But this morning it was to my benefit. No changing trains. I got off at Fulton and came up to the street at a time when, in years past, Wall Street would have been in full throttle. This morning, there were people, but not the quantity nor the pace. Wall Street is blatantly dead. I went to Zuccotti Park. Quiet oasis in the midst of street construction, the “new” so-called “World Trade Center”. I brought the 2 blankets and a few plastic bags. I came to contribute. I came to say “Good-bye”. I came to leave. It was quick. It was “business”. It was NYC. I, a New Yorker, was leaving. As I left, I could feel The City closing into the space that had been me. Already, I no longer existed. I hadn’t left but already, I no longer occupied a space. Replaced. Gone. I headed to the A. I was out, gone, done. – Of course, the train that came in was the Far Rock. I didn’t need it this morning so it was the one I got. OK. I was off to Lefferts. – Into storage, up to the locker, up the step ladder. Packed luggage out. Bag of last clothes worn in. Lock it up. Down the ladder. First floor. Out the door. It was day-light. It was warm. I was dressed for the North. I didn’t care. I was still merely “functioning”.
Submitted on 2011/10/26 at 10:04 56

NYC is a kind city, a considerate place. To get to the A train, 42 stairs to climb… with luggage! At the turnstile? A cop! I had the duffle, my back-pack, and the back-pack of water-colours. Yes, he wanted to search. Of course he did! My last trip! 2 stops! Search! But in all fairness I have to say, he was a prince. He must have seen how exhausted I was when I said “You’ve got to be kidding.” Only a quick zip of the back-packs AND he opened the gate for me! “Of course I can; I’m the law.” he said with a smile. And I was on my way. – On the platform, a train, right away and which one? Far Rock! NYC MTA was determined to get me OUT! NO PROB! – HoBe: I needed a smoke. Through another gate, down the lift to the street. But I had to take a lift up to take one down to get out! OK. Back up. I needed more money on the MetroCard! Shit! Another 5$ I can’t afford! NYC was going to get every dollar out of me before it let me go. – Finally, through to the AirTrain. It too pulled in as I got to the platform! Timing this morning was with me, NYC was shoving me out and I wasn’t complaining. The AirTrain was good. I was so glad I’d taken the 10$ trial run…
Submitted on 2011/10/26 at 11:35 06

JFK: As if I’d done the journey every day, I headed along what they call a “Skywalk” and I call a ridiculous corridor. The only good thing about it? Moving walk-ways… but not on the bends. On and off and on and off. Then down the escalator. The “fun” began: 3 Italian guys in front of me and 1 who wanted to join them. OK. Sure. They travel together. But THEN? A young, fat, Black guy with “dreads” comes up insisting that he was behind the Italians. Bull! They’re so predictable, liars! I call ‘em as they are. No more, no less. No sense arguing. I let him go. Odd? He wasn’t prepared, had an argument with the guy at the check and walked away pissed. My turn…
Submitted on 2011/10/27 at 9:41 41

For Monday 24: JFK – The young fellow at the counter wasn’t friendly but he wasn’t rude. He simply asked how he could help me. I told him I’d booked on the flight, he asked for ID and when I’d presented it, he typed my name. Asked if I was checking any bags. Well, indeed I was! The new duffle certainly wouldn’t pass as carry-on (I was a bit concerned it would be over the weight allowance). No problemme with the duffle. But I did suspect that it might be opened and, if so, it wouldn’t be re-packed properly. I’m still very much in a mind-set of the Shelter where every-thing has been opened and fingered, if not removed out-right. I’m certainly not used to the scrutiny or invasion, but I suppose I’ve become accustomed to it and it’s become part of me now. Sad, really. As one fellow put it a while back: Some become institutionalised, we’ve become “shelterised”. I asked this young man where I should go next and he mechanically directed me to the security queue. That would bring me into the terminal-proper where I could wait. There would be no smoking there. – I strolled out-side to an area designated for smokers. There I heard a man say that the air-line took his toothpaste! I was a bit relieved now that I’d trashed mine in the barrel at the shelter and had given my shampoo to Tony. – I had 2 smokes and went in for the “Full Security” check. – The queue wasn’t too long and was conducted in a pleasant manner. I simply watched those before me and learned. Although calm, orderly and such, the thoughts of Shelter security at the entrance kept their presence in the forefront of my mind. I felt as if I’d never escape from that routine. Outer clothing, jacket/hoodie in a bin with my belt (my chinos almost dropped to the floor… I’ve lost so much weight since buying them last Summer), boots into another bin, back-pack on the conveyor. In stocking feet I was “invited” into the body scanner. Stand, arms raised, 10 seconds. It was almost demeaning to think this machine was scanning my entire person! It was sickening when I thought of the x-rays thrusting through my body AND how many of the DHS cops would get their jollies if given one of these scanners at the Shelter! (Through the entire check-in process my mind was comparing it all to the Shelter, that was the saddest aspect of it all.) – Done. Retrieve bins and back-pack and happily find a seat to put my boots back on. Down the ramp and to the terminal proper where all was scrubbed and clean and the world was sterile… sterile. I wanted coffee. I needed something to eat and there was a DunkinDonuts. 2 BostonCreme and a coffee. I sat and enjoyed… alone. No particular anxieties about this LUNGE into the complete Un-known that I was taking. I’ve acclimated so, to being up-rooted, to being so transient through my life that THIS was only another bit of my normalcy. – Coffee done, a stroll to the gate. At the windowed waiting area I looked out, tried to get my bearings. I could see Rockaway off in the distance and what I think is B108 and east. I already missed it. Not painfully, that part of me is gone with all other circumstances, but sadly, none-the-less. Yes, I SHALL miss Rockaway. And yes, I am resentful. But I’m off to bigger adventures now and an entirely new Life in an entirely un-known town and state! I found a place to sit at the gate and waited in my own silence.
Submitted on 2011/10/30 at 12:30 53

Sitting, pondering just about absolutely nothing, the sweetest sound filled my ears, wrapped round me like a soft, warm, cuddly blanket and lulled me into such calm… To my left, 4 people waited to board the same air-craft, engaged in conversation… they were speaking… QUEBECOISE! I was en route… NORTH! I listened, not so much to their words but to the sound of their words as they floated like silent, brilliantly-hued butterflies and luminescent dragon flies through the air that surrounded me. My heart swelled in my chest as tears welled in my eyes. I was headed NORTH, but this time, NOT for a brief holiday. Rather, THIS was my new Life! In my personal silence, I danced and sang in utter Joy! I wondered what these people would think of me if I’d told them what Happiness they were giving me simply by conducting their general conversation. How silly, really. But it was fact: I was Jubilant! They were my escorts to the NORTH, to a town and state completely strange and new to me; both of which I looked forward, in great anticipation to becoming a part of. How wonderfully serendipitous! – As I waited, several announcements were made on the public addresse: in English, then in Spanish. The Spanish turned my stomach. It brought me to the reality that I NEEDED to get AWAY from here, from this pandering city. I resented the fact that the announcements weren’t made in French! How dare the air-line have such disregard, particularly considering the Northern destination of this flight. I considered it an affront. Yes, I was headed North and language became the old battle-ground of my days in Montreal. But I was headed North. Soon I would be closer to that city where my Soul resides. – Came the announcement to board. I stood, queued, in my silence, with-holding my Joy and Anticipation and… Uncertainty.
Submitted on 2011/10/30 at 23:57 14

9.33 JFK HA8539266 E4 6W-107 departing. God bless the MobileHomeless.
Submitted on 2011/10/23 at 14:08 55

The air-craft was quite small and the young gentleman in the aisle seat was quite tall. But I made my way to the window seat and fiddled with the seat belt. I still had the old “regular flyer” in me and all was well. We taxied for what seemed to be the entire air-port, over 2 over-passes of the GCP or LIE. AT LAST! ACCELERATION! AND UP WE WE LIFTED! I was removed from NY soil and en route to… VERMONT and an opportunity to actually LIVE! I actually FELT a burdensome part of my being leave, being removed from me, thrust backward, left behind. And I settled, looking out the window as we floated high above Long Island and up into the clouds. New York was gone… gone… gone.
Submitted on 2011/10/31 at 0:18 38

The flight: There was nothing to watch out-side the window. We flew through cloud most of the way. I declined the chips, cookies and sodas offered. I simply had no want. I bundled my hoodie against the window, closed my eyes and tried to rest a bit. I thought of tonight when the line beside my name on the Sign-In sheet would be blank where my signature would have been and silently amused my-self with wondering what would be on the mind of the guy who’d do the “BED-CHECK!” (as they scream coming through the halls at 22.00 nightly… if they perform it at all). I wondered “what”, if not “who” would be placed in my stead and bed tonight. And I prayed he’d be respectful, clean, quiet. I regretted only the uncertainty I’d caused for my “dorm-mates” now. I dozed a moment. – When next I looked out the window, below was a patch-work of various shades of green, dotted sparsely with the roof-tops of an occasional house here and there. Other-wise much empty, un-inhabited space. VERMONT! The announcement came: we were about to land. I watched as Champlain came into view. It was exhilarating! CHAMPLAIN! NORTH! I’d arrived! Then came the structures and land-scape of the Burlington suburbs. Sparce. I thought: This is my new Home… I’ll live here now… I shall LIVE here now! When the wheels touched the tarmac, I softly sighed “YES!” The flight was finished. My “flight” was finished. I ARRIVED. Me, the person, the human-being. No longer in NY. In a new state, land, reality, Life. I suddenly experienced… Peace.
Submitted on 2011/10/31 at 0:27 15

Wed. 26 Oct. 8.43 Shelburne North Star: Although this room is a total wreck, in dire need of a total make-over, I woke, in Peace, rested, a Human, not annoyed, not pressured to bolt. No strangers in other beds. No strangers roaming about. No banging of lockers, no slamming garbage can, no echoed screaming, no walkie-talkie radios, no “security”. This morning I woke to a window with a view of the dream-land of the Adirondacks. This morning the door opens to the World, the open air, I step out to the Northern skies, the North air, to 3 degrees, to Life and Living. This morning I wake as a Human being. This morning I wake as a person, not a number, not a file, not a “case”, not a “client”. I wake, I go to the loo not having to be concerned about walking away from my bed, occupied with thoughts of someone coming by in my absence to take my pillow, my towel, my anything. I wake, with time to stroll about. I wake, clear, rested, not anxious, not aggitated, not annoyed. THIS morning, I wake with dignity… even in this little box, still trying to get rid of the heavy scent of old cigarettes. But I wake… I gaze at the majesty of the Adirondack mountains, the inspiration of their greatness; I wake to news, in French; I wake to news of Bennington; I wake to weather of Burlington, the Champlain Valley, the NorthEast Kingdom; I wake in a dream-turned-reality. I wake in… reality.
Submitted on 2011/10/24 at 9:49 06
DREAM last night: I was sitting on the toilet, having a smoke when I noticed a very black head peering over the stall door. Security. I was about to leave the shelter that morning (this morning) and I simply looked up and calmly said “Oh, it just figures. Well, you caught me. No sense in arguing. Do what you feel you have to.” – I woke. 4.58
(Sunday, 23 February 2014)

It is one thing to not be cared-about and lied to. It is quite another to face the reality, directly, and acknowledge the fact that one is not cared-about. Never mind not being cared FOR, but to not be cared ABOUT?

I often wonder if people in general, others, as they are, realise the impact on the soul, when some-one stands at the entrance to a Homeless Shelter. And, as often, I wonder if any of those people actually care at all.

Having stood at the entrance to a Homeless Shelter, in the dark, after having spent many months sleeping under the stars at night, sitting alone on beaches by day, talking with and to no-one, I know, all too well, the pain of suddenly being forced to acknowledge the “alone-ness” that becomes the prevalent reality of one’s existence. And, after passing those months, rarely speaking with anyone at all, and listening to people spewing statements such as “How terrible it must be for you…” and “I don’t know how you do it; I certainly couldn’t…” and all the while knowing that they all knew that the only real “need” I had at that time was a little space, shelter against the elements of Nature, to suddenly wake from the surrealism of days and nights alone, save brief interludes with people who feigned compassion but only to the extent of their spoken words, I know, ever so well, the sound of the “crack” when the reality of your personal worthlessness comes crashing into the brain and slams against the human heart.

When a person is driven, only by the innate survival instinct, to seek the help and even pseudo-caring of complete strangers, the most basic of shelter against wind, rain, snow, cold, heat of the sun in a public place called a “Shelter” it is a moment in time when the most base notions of sanity and reality strike like fine-honed knives, and they pierce the mind, the body and the soul, directly and deeply to the core.

For all too many in Shelters for the Homeless, and those who will not or cannot avail themselves of the “luxury” of the Shelters, there are, on this planet we call “Earth”, those who have been called and those who call themselves “friends”. For ALL who are in Shelters AND those who exist out in the elements un-sheltered, there are, some-where on this planet, on this “Earth” in this “world”, those who are known as “family” by blood. Yet, at the moment a person, a human-being stands at the door, the entrance to a Homeless Shelter… there is… absolutely… NO one… no one at all… not even one solitary soul who is either “friend” or “family”. There is one person, one single, solitary, living, breathing person at that moment, and at that moment, he and she are absolutely “alone”. There is nothing and no one around him and her. He and she can cry, laugh, sigh, breathe, and no one else sees or hears. A heart beats in the chest of that Homeless person, and no one hears the heart-beat, no one senses the heart-beat and truly, incontrovertibly, not one other person cares, even in the least, to try.

That reality, that emptiness, that moment of absolute, total and complete solitude thrusts itself deeper than any weapon known to all of human-kind. It is sharp, serrated, rips at spirit, soul, and even mind and flesh. It twists, causing searing pain. And the wound it causes never heals, it leaves no scar, it remains open… forever. And the mark it causes is indelible. Over time, the “Homelessness” may become some part of a recent or even distant past. But the wound opened by the emptiness and the reality that not one other living being in a world as vast as that in which a Homeless person exists, cared, at that moment when human compassion became tantamount to ALL other needs, will never, ever heal.

One tends, over time, to with-draw deeper into one’s self during Homelessness. The bitter reality of not being cared about becomes a shroud, a protective safeguard against further infliction of any more pain. And for those who are fortunate enough to find the companionship of other Homeless, the identity with and camaraderie of those of like spirit creates a society split and very distant from all other societies that people, humans create.

Those who survive, against many odds, a term of Homelessness of any length, never return to the “person” they once were, nurtured in a “home life”, perhaps by parents or loved ones. In that one, almost negligible moment in time, in the course of one’s life-time, the term of companionship of “friends’ and “family” is negated, obliterated and the results are, for all intent and purpose, permanent… until death. The memory of that lonely, empty, frightening moment embeds deep into the mind, the psyche, the very cellular structure of an individual, and there, it replicates infinitely… until, as in death itself, all “life” ceases, even to the “end” of the very matter of which the organic brain is composed.

For those who have never experienced true “Homelessness”, these points, these facts are nothing more than mere abstracts. The salve for those who have never experienced “Homelessness” is to dismiss the Homeless as being mentally ill, drug-induced insane, abnormal, or simply “faulty” or irresponsible. Those who have never actually experienced the loneliness, the bitter, dark emptiness of facing their “un-wantedness” can try and will succeed in finding rationalizations to protect themselves against experiencing the brutality of the pain caused by being Homeless… even IF they make the simple effort of trying to ponder it.

It is all too simple to dismiss the Homeless as being sub-par, deranged in some manner… something (not some ONE) to be dismissed. And, as it is often done, when one leaves “Homelessness” and experiences future hardships, to make patronising and condescending callous statements such as “Oh, you’ve been through worse.” and again, abandon the person, the human-being standing there, often silently searching for a hand to grasp, and all the while remembering: NO one cared then… NO one cares now… and believing with all reality in the human soul… NO one WILL care… ever.

And I wonder, I often wonder if people in general, others, as they are, realise how brutally un-caring and selfish they are, daily, even from moment to moment in their entire existence because, one very basic, very plain and simple fact exists, and that is: if anyone did care… no one would be in a Homeless Shelter… no one would be Homeless.
(21 Feb. 2014… 21.57)

From under the blanket there came a murmur, followed by a soft cry. The child moved, the motion could be seen. The young woman tightened her hold on the blanket, moved one hand gently deeper under the blanket and softly bounced the little bundle cradled in her loving arms and she stared directly ahead of her at the older woman seated directly across from her. In a short course, the motion of the blanket ceased, the sounds under the swaddling bundle went silent. All was well, was silent again until, when at last the soldiers had departed and the train began moving again, the young woman loosened her grasp on the infant-child and blanket. The top of the blanket opened and softly fell from across the baby’s head and face and there, in the arms of this young mother, lay a child, her child, breathless… lifeless… suffocated… dead.
(Currently from the Max Manuscript – in progress)

I have found my night-shade
and discovered my pokeweed.
My fare and ticket away from you
and all that I need
to leave this misery far behind me,
departing from mountain-top or sea.
(02:07.16.08 9h31 Seton Park Gaston67)

In my mind I heard the music
of gentle guitar
I’ll never play.
A lyric written
long ago…
I can’t remember it any more.
( 9h51 Seton Park Gaston67)

The note was written in a finer hand, obviously well thought, time was taken in scribing it. In fact, it was so well written that it was more like a piece of fine art and so, the sincerity of it’s content couldn’t be doubted.

“Dear, Sweet, House-keeper,” the message began, “More than anything in the world, I hope I haven’t come as a shock. Shock is the last thing I want to put you into, especially since it’s probably rather early in the morning. If I have, I hope now and will continue hoping that you’ll find it in your heart to understand me and forgive the initial turmoil. Equally, I certainly hope that I haven’t vomited or lost bowel control. I’ve always been considerate of others, and have tried to keep myself presentable even to the very best of society, in so many circumstances. It was my intention to present me and the surroundings in a quiet, refined and dignified manner and to avoid all damages to the best of my ability.”
(Epilogue (A sketch) (30 sept 2013) The Belladonna Martini Days)

*Monday 24 Octobre: It was an “un-reality” this morning. The actuality of the day felt “distant”, some-how removed from me, from my body, from my person. I was aware of what was about to happen. I was aware of what I had to do. I moved, mechanically, just moved. A clang of a locker door, the echoing of the walkie-talkie down the hall, the clang of something in a garbage can, the howl of a voice with no reason or cause or purpose.

As I stood there in the door-way to that cold yet sun-drenched room,silently holding back my own pain of seeing and knowing, from deep with-in my own memory, I ran back-wards toward the beginning of her journey to this moment. So much and almost too much of the details played and re-played in my mind. And all through I knew all too well: she wasn’t alone, nor the only one.
(Max Manuscript)

As the years progressed, this was the little girl whose hair I braided in the morning before school. This was the young girl with whom I’d danced in the living-room, to the entertainment and amusement of family and visitors. “Get up in the morning slaving for bread sir… so that ev-er-y mout’ can BE fed. Oh! Oh! The Is-ree-al-ite…” And we’d dance and spin, twist and twirl! And we’d DANCE!
(Max Manuscript)