INTRODUCTION TO HOMELESSNESS _____"The point is that fashion is the armour to survive the reality of everyday life." _________________________________________- Bill Cunningham Bare feet in old running shoes, a tattered cape made of shopping bags skilfully knotted together so they overlap like shingles on a roof or oily feathers. Were you a tailor or sailmaker in another life? And where is my camera? Your doom chic might make the cover of an un-airbrushed, alt Vogue. Worn by a skin-and-bones blonde on a runway in Milan, it’d be, like, ooh la-effing-la. “Dashiell, it’s not polite to point,” but the boy’s compassion has not yet ossified. He won’t be deterred. A minute ago, they were snapping selfies with the NYPL lions as backdrop; now the boy tugs at his father’s coat sleeve, “Dad, can I have some money, please, for that man over there?” Dad looks irritated, giving you a cool once-over, as if to say, “I think you can be safely ignored,” but then, with a slight smug smile, his face softens: he’s taught his kid right. He shrugs and fishes for his wallet, checking the crisp bill twice to make sure it’s only a single. “Well, go on then, hurry up, I’ll be right here.” The boy approaches warily, only to have his offering politely refused. And now the man is really annoyed; his son’s return is like the long walk back to the bench after striking out. What’s this guy’s problem? How dare he zombie-shuffle through their father-son vignette and take the shine off a perfectly good day. “Hey, Asshole, you don’t like money?” You merely smile and bow, makeshift cloak crackling in the cold. ALL-INCLUSIVE Up the beach from the supper club’s sprawling patio where beleaguered servers thread the crowd, bearing trays of watered-down Cuba Libres, grilled mahi-mahi on skewers, near the striped changing huts and sea kayaks on steel racks, two men pace figure-eights in the sand, their faces lit by cellphone screens. One sports a loud shirt and a fresh sunburn, the other, darker skinned, wears a once-white apron and hairnet. They circle, pivoting on sandaled heels. It’s a kind of wary dance, the boundaries invisible, yet mutually agreed. The elusive green bars were here yesterday. There’s always something that can’t wait: a friend’s birthday, a baby overdue, someone in a nursing home, a child to wish goodnight before the sitter switches out the light; niggles, logistics, some little piece of news. The odd couple commiserates silently – the one who chafes at his leisure, the other on a smoke break. What they have to say won’t stay bottled up; what they want to hear is the one thing that will permit them sleep. But the satellites won’t cooperate: the night air carries only the surf’s white noise, merengue from the resort casino on the next point. It’s an old story: figures on a far shore, hands raised to the sky, searching for a signal. Two tiny lights like fireflies engulfed by dark inhuman scenery. The drone of scouring waves, the moon stirring the iron filings of the sea. _____ Steve McOrmond has published three collections of poetry, most recently The Good News about Armageddon (Brick Books, 2010). His second collection, Primer on the Hereafter (Wolsak and Wynn, 2006), received the Atlantic Poetry Prize. He lives in Toronto. He can be found at www.stevemcormond.com or @Steve_McOrmond on Twitter.