Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Away from the Black Friday Crowds

The rush into a Wal-Mart, K-Mart, or Target in the early, early hours of Black Friday morn looks more desperate than the crowd escaping from a theater housing the Blob or running from the Pamplona  Bulls. But a few hours ago these mild mannered Americans were expressing gratitude for their material blessings over another helping of turkey and the trimmings. Now scenes of trampling, fights and even a taser to save a few dollars for things they probably do not need and if gifts will soon be forgotten.  Away from the cameras in Costa Mesa and many other cities in California homeless men and women huddle against the cold, unwashed, if lucky the remnants of a shelter or mission turkey dinner still with them. For far too many the park bench or bus stop bench may be the last stop on the alcohol or drug road to total despair, but until the very end unwilling or unable to put down the bottle or the needle. Terrible diseases ravaging those who suffer and devastating their friends and families.

Barter Not Gin
If you have no future, you are doomed to live in the past
But with drinking or drugs the present blurs and will not last
The scenes on TV are crowds in the early morning Black Friday hours lined into the streets
Frenzy unabated to be first barging through the doors unwilling in quest for deals to accept defeat
Worse are the fist fights for gifts one may not really need
 The gift of peace a blessing in this melee no one heeds
But all pales by the scene of a shopper writhing on the floor being tased
So much for the gift of peace as we enter this new Black Friday shopping phase
For those who believe they are invincible and can shop until they drop
Go to a place without lines, without TV, on a cold winter night---a bus stop
Two homeless men on a bus stop bench slowly drinking rot gut gin
Future, present, and past in word slurring,  mind blurring spin
One man was a man of fifty with a weathered, fully lined  Medicare face
His mental facilities clearly  long since fallen from grace
Muscles leaving his body faster than rats from a sinking ship
Weighed less than a jockey but the gin bottle would not leave his lips
His home a shopping cart with a few scraps of filthy garb
Even in California when winter comes, outside it is somewhat hard
For “a bus” or “a meal” plea, I had no spare change
Another bottle I could not, seeing his vacant eyes, help to arrange
So I handed him some currency of nutrition—granola bars, cheese, bananas and nuts
Anything but money for gin to drive him further into his alcoholic rut
The other had a similar Medicare face but his mind was totally blank
Any attempt at words other than curses went quickly into the tank
After a stream of curses and a guzzle not a gulp, he no longer had to vent
Curled back into a dirty  blanket, back into a stupor totally spent
Neither would admit to needing help to weather the cold night
Any shelter would mean loss of gin, not worth trying to win that fight 
As I walked away, feeling helpless and with some guilt, I could not do more
At least he could not take that currency to barter for gin at a liquor store.
No future, living in the past which fades with each gin taste
Clear example of what alcohol can do and how it can waste

© December 1, 2013 Michael P. Ridley aka the Alaskanpoet

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