I hugged the walls, trying to hide in dark corners, but a bitchy wind found me everywhere I went, and gnawed at my neck and cheeks with its merciless teeth. I had no respite.
I was huddled in the pokey gap between a tattoo parlour and pool hall when I heard what sounded like a squeaky toy. There was a frail, drawn-out release of air. Like it had been sat on. Like it had invented misery.
It came to life in an expensive arty-farty Moleskine—maybe I fancied myself as the next Hemingway. I even bought a posh Parker pen. Only the best tools, right? But as time went on and times got desperate, the Moleskine got swapped out for paper from bins and skips, and the Parker for biros I’d stolen from cheap snack-bars and post offices.
But I didn’t give up. I continued to scribble beneath dim streetlights, in dingy alleyways, and as close to the neon glow of storefronts as their owners would allow. Come hell or high water, I’d complete this book.
My dream. I ended up leaving my hometown for this.
Melbourne was too expensive. I’d lost my job and the rent was killing, so I upped stakes. I moved to deepest, darkest Peru where I burned through the remainder of my savings in under a year. Even though it was as cheap as chips to live there, I eventually found myself eking out a living on the streets.
I guess I didn’t think things through enough. Now I didn’t even have the money for a one-way ticket back to Australia.
a little vagrant sleeps under a church ladder
shares his bedding with a lame puppy and deaf adder
he has never tasted sweets or sugar scones
his usual dinner is leavings, skin and bones
one beautiful summer day right after the mass
someone spat a throat lozenge onto the grass
it shined beneath the sun like a real gem
blameless, faceted, wet from mucous phlegm
little vagrant retrieved the lozenge with trembling hand
unbelievably happy as though he’d won a big grant
but he wasn’t the only one who had reached the prize
the puppy was looking at him with pleading eyes
some people aren’t dogmatic, have never attended church
their lives can seem useless, their family’s honour besmirch
but on that day it was the lord’s supper under church ladder
little vagrant shared his first candy with lame puppy and deaf adder