Tropical Paradise, Deansgate


homeless poster


The seven-twelve to Manchester is always late. I stand among
The other passengers, some of whom I recognise. We board the train and
Sit in silence, reading Patrick White or Susan Hill. One of the carriage
Windows, shot through with defects, brings the passing scenery
Alive with seismic energy.
Meanwhile I arrive in town and make my way to work, passing
Underneath a bridge; an enormous poster advertising beer
Depicts a perfect Caribbean beach where turquoise waves
Deposit their reluctant foam while palm trees elegantly interrupt
The blue horizon. In bold white letters four feet high
The ad proclaims that “This is Living.” Beneath the poster
Lies a homeless man; we have to wonder how he ended up
With just a sleeping bag, a barrow
Full of random stuff
And a dog for company. Once he must have been
A boy, whose parents watched him grow and heard him laugh and
Dreamed about the path his life would take. But here
He lies beneath an endless artificial sky; perhaps his career
Included a number of small wrong turns, or maybe
Fell victim to a single bold mistake that cost him
All the happiness that lay in store.


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