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Sunday, May 27, 2018


Man nodding on sidewalk--Kensington

Walking a couple of miles through Kensington, I saw about 40 tents on three different streets, plus dirty mattresses with folks dozing on them. Most of the homeless were white and under 35. I saw junkies nodding on steps, and a young lady, all doped up, in a wheelchair.

On the train to Kensington, I saw a white guy with a cardboard sign that stated he was an Iraq War vet and homeless. No one gave him anything. On the train back, there was a white guy of about 42 who said, "I'm broke and a junkie. Some people come on the train and bs, but I'm not going to lie to you. My life is so unmanageable right now that I must humiliate myself to ask for help. I know some of you are going through a difficult time also, but if anybody could afford to help me at all, with a bit of change, anything, a token or food, I'd very much appreciate it." Everyone ignored him. Seconds after he got off to try a different car, a black guy of about 32 got on, walked around and said, "I'm broke, with no friends and family, so I'm asking for your help." He, too, was ignored.

In Kensington, there's a very busy soup kitchen that's used daily not just by the homeless, so no one is in danger of literally starving. If you're hooked on heroin, however, even a hundred bucks of "spare change" a day won't be enough.



Ian Keenan said...

I saw three people eating out the trash yesterday between Philly and New York. That's more than I usually see in the same areas. + A normal-looking girl in her early 20s was sitting against the fence just north of the 4th st and 6th ave basketball courts in NYC with a 'kicked out' sign 'the dog eats first.' In January, I was taking the subway from Harlem (end of Studio Museum show + of course Jacob Restaurant) and there was a young girl crying across from me in the subway, talking to two older guys (of the same 'Western Hemisphere ethnicity' to not specify) sitting next to me. I thought she may have been evicted but I wasn't sure.. I heard parts. 'You two are the only people who listen to me.' One guy said 'I see people around here that look like the most wanted terrorists' and she rolled her eyes and changed the subject. 'I worked all my life! I've never taken a vacation!' We got out at the same stop to transfer to different trains and I asked her if she was ok and what was happening. She said he was evicted and had to give up her two dogs to enter a homeless shelter. 'They're all I have in the world.'

Ian Keenan said...

Also Jacob Restaurant says on their website that they give their leftovers to the poor.. those recipients eat like kings on those occasions!


About Me

Born in Vietnam in 1963, I lived mostly in the US from 1975 until 2018, but have returned to Vietnam, where I live in remote Ea Kly. I've also lived in Italy, England and Germany. I'm the author of a non-fiction book, Postcards from the End of America (2017), a novel, Love Like Hate (2010), two books of stories, Fake House (2000) and Blood and Soap (2004), and six collections of poems, with a Collected Poems apparently cancelled by Chax Press from external pressure. I've been anthologized in Best American Poetry 2000, 2004, 2007, Great American Prose Poems from Poe to the Present, Postmodern American Poetry: a Norton Anthology (vol. 2) and Flash Fiction International: Very Short Stories From Around the World, etc. I'm also editor of Night, Again: Contemporary Fiction from Vietnam (1996) and The Deluge: New Vietnamese Poetry (2013). My writing has been translated into Japanese, Italian, Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Portuguese, Korean, Arabic, Icelandic and Finnish, and I've been invited to read in Tokyo, London, Cambridge, Brighton, Paris, Berlin, Leipzig, Halle, Reykjavik, Toronto, Singapore and all over the US. I've also published widely in Vietnamese.