Sunday, 14 May 2017

Home In An Alleyway, Death In A Doorway.

         Last March a young man sleeping rough, died in the doorway of a department store in Argyle Street Glasgow. At the time it raised a lot of anger and dismay, and there was shock that such a thing could happen in Glasgow in this day and age. Of course anger, dismay and shock don’t resolve anything. Since the shock and horror at such a tragic event, figures now released show that far from being a one of tragic incident, it is a rather common occurrence. In fact, Glasgow’s city streets are the death bed of approximately one rough sleeper a week. Think of Glasgow, its fancy shopping malls, its jewellery arcades, its trendy coffee shops, cafés and bars, its expensive off-roaders and large luxury cars parked around the city centre, its tourists strutting along fashionable Buchanan Street. Then compare this with the life of the homeless who seek shelter from Scotland’s cruel elements, in shop doorways, alleys and back streets.
         Figures obtained by the Sunday Herald from Glasgow City Council via freedom of information request reveal that at least 39 homeless people have died in Glasgow in the space of just 10 months. The deaths occurred between May 2016 and March 2017 with the city council admitting that the numbers likely underestimate the full scale of the scandal. Details of the number of deaths in other major Scottish cities are currently unavailable.
Continue reading HERE:
        We can rule out old age killing these unfortunate and largely ignored individuals, of the 39 deaths in the released figures only 5 were over 60 years of age, the others were somewhere between 25 and 59. What really killed these ill-fated and forgotten individuals was a society that values property above human life and dignity. Our city is awash with empty property, all valued and protected, while the life of a homeless individual is unprotected and valueless.
       As a city we can plan to cover part of the Charing Cross motorway with a gardened roof, it will of course raise the value of the property in the area, empty and otherwise, and make it more pleasant to stroll around and sit and sip your cappuccino, but we can’t offer shelter to homeless individuals who face sleeping in dismal doorways. We are not a civilised society as long as people sleep on our streets, we are complicit in a society that values property higher than human life. Nobody with compassion should tolerate such a society, we have the resources, there is the need, to ignore that need is an indictment of our society.
       This picture is of course replicated across our small country, it is estimated by the charity Shelter, that approximately 5,000 people sleep rough in Scotland every year, the same can be said about all the other countries on the planet. It is the malignant economic system that breeds this sort of situation, quality of life is dependent on wealth, wealth flows into ever few hands, and so the problem far from being remedied, will ever by exacerbated. As long as we continue with this capitalist economic cancer, misery, homelessness and death in doorways will continue.
I'll repeat the two poems from the previous post on this subject.

The Homeless.
Tenebrous spectres, they exist,   out there,
on the crumbling edge of chaos.
A father, a son, a brother,
a daughter, a sister, a mother.
Fragments of some shattered family structure;
waste products
from a society being driven to destruction
by a hurricane of greed
living a life that wears out life,
the devious death of exhaustion from existence.
The Warmth Of A Dream.
He lay in a dark doorway, dreamed of home,
night frost locked his joints
morning rain chilled the marrow of his bone.
In the dream there was a sister,
a pram in the garden, a crowd of youngsters
who called him "mister", a time of little pain.
Are these youngster the same young men, who
now laugh at him, throw beer cans,
piss on him as he lies drunk in some dark lane?
When was that first step down this slippery slope,
when was that first step to no forgiveness.
No will to rise to beg for food,
numbness kills the pain.
The dream brings a warmth that feels good,
dark fog shades out consciousness,
an ambulance carries off a body washed in rain. 
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