Reflections from a Coffee House Window

Part One

Two festive hats sit sipping
From branded throw-away cup,
Both lean against a doorway
To an agency trading in health;
One sat on a blue mat
To keep the cold from his piles,
The clean-faced one sits on bare floor
Her clothes look less slept in.
The one in the Santa hat
Stands, turns to face west
Rucksack slung across back
Beanie pulled tight to her brow
Neither smile,
The one in the red cap nods.
As darkness falls around his shoulders
He has no place to go,
Time ticks slow sat inside
The stone wind
Where clocks have no hands.
An ambulance screams down North Street
As seasonal whores
Bend their heads to the day
No time to look up between tills.
A glass wall sits between me and winter
My reflection sits beside the homeless figure,
I think of ‘A Christmas Carol’.
A woman walks past
Gifts a chocolate cookie,
Food over money,
The middle class mantra,
But what good is sugar
When you need a hit
To soften the cold concrete?
He sips from branded coffee cup
I sip from mine
But it’s not the same

Part Two

I wipe a piece of beetroot
From my moustache,
This place used to be a treat
A one-pound sanctuary from home
Back when the government
Kept me off the streets.
Nursing a branded coffee cup
I’d sit daydreaming things were different
Writing colloquial words
With pockets empty of ambition
The monotony seemed less glamorous
Than when Hemingway told me
‘The Sun Also Rises’.
The sandwich’s packaging
Asks me to ‘break the cycle of homelessness’.
In a shrinking society each man
Must offer his largest largesse:
Here, take my job
Take my bed
Take this four quid falafel
Take the chains which shackle I
To the cycle of bourgeoisie holiness,
Where prayers plead
‘Please, don’t let the redundancies hit me, again’
And ‘I hope Mum makes it to Christmas’.
The homeless man
Pushes a napkin around the doorway with his foot,
Rolls his blue mat into a bag,
He smiles at the chocolate chip woman
Who skips back to a six hundred grand house
Hopelessness slips from her brow,
She shed a weight from her consciousness
The only difference she made today.
The tramp’s brow remains knotted
Is this how to break the cycle?
One biscuit at a time!
An ambulance flies by,
Does it know the answer?
A street cleaner stops
He ignores the tramp,
This town doesn’t sweep up
The homeless.

Paul Crompton is an itinerant soul moving from Norfolk to Brighton via the U.K.'s West Country. By day he writes for a business magazine and by night attends Brighton's many spoken word events. Read other articles by Paul.