Living With Myself

Lonely park bench
blissful mid afternoon sunshine glints
off puddles that ripple
disturbed by a gentle breeze
A man,
lonely as the bench he calls home
is in deep conversation
with someone only he knows.

They converse for hour upon hour
time, a concept neither respect
or fear.

Tuesday, just another day
much like any other
same park bench
same man
conversing with someone
only he knows.

Early morning mist lingers
unburnt by the suns early warmth
promises of
another beautiful day
in the life of
a lonely park bench.

Still is the air, restful
as the man who slept under
starlit skies.

So soon, the chatter of conversation
fills the void
like the dawn chorus
taken for granted
by the 9-5 army
marching on rations
of cholesterol soaked
bran flakes

“Hello mister”
rubbing his still sleepy eyes
is this a dream caught
between the realms of the real
and imagination
“mister, you ok”
ah, those words
music from a long defunct jukebox
of broken promises.

“want some coffee mister”
“does it come with nicotine”
“whats nicotine mister”
“never mind”
“i’ll ask my mammy”
with that, she skips away
a bird chasing its own song
unemcumbered by life

“mammy doesn’t smoke, sorry mister”
“but you can still have some coffee
cant you”
the last veil of mist
to reveal this day
the most glorious yet

“is this yours mister”
“whats it for”
sure this was still a dreamscape
the man yawned, aware
this was surreal, yet
somehow not.

That strange encounter
saved a mans life today
preventing hypothermia
from taking another innocent life
of a man who is not like you,
from a man who could not live like you
but a man who
Can live with himself.

This came about for a host of reasons. If you know Jethro Tull, you will know Aqualung, a song I find so sad, I tend to shed tears when I hear it. Then there was the old [to a child] man in the park I used to talk to as a bairn, unbeknown of the inherent dangers that would brng about today. And lastly, for the time I spent living rough, where the rest of the word passes by, ignoring the fact that you even exist. Hypothermia is the enemy of the homeless, no amount of paper or cardboard can repel it. Last of all, its for the people, who for whatever reason, spurn the life that the majority of us lead. Their bravery is testament to the human spirit.

A quote from Ian Anderson, frontman of Jethro Tull and composer of Aqualung.

“Aqualung wasn’t a concept album, although a lot of people thought so. The idea came about from a photograph my wife at the time took of a tramp in London. I had feelings of guilt about the homeless, as well as fear and insecurity with people like that who seem a little scary. And I suppose all of that was combined with a slightly romanticized picture of the person who is homeless but yet a free spirit, who either won’t or can’t join in society’s prescribed formats”.


7 responses to “Living With Myself

  • claudia

    i love that kids are so relaxed and natural with homeless people.. love how you describe that little encounter and being able to live with himself…i like..probably many of the well respected man can’t really say this whole-heartedly..

  • brian miller

    oh i love the song…and its def emotional…as is the piece you share….i am glad his life was spared….getting not what he wanted but what he needed…there is something to that…and the comfortableness of kids around all kinds of people….

  • hobgoblin2011

    You know, I hadn’t thought of Jethro Tull in a long time. Some excellent songs. Great narrative here, really great job carrying us forward. You know, I just used Bairn in a poem the other day, not that common of a word and then poof, I read it hear. Funny thing coincidences are. Great piece. Thanks for posting.

  • apshilling

    hey Tino

    i hold my hand up to not having listened to much JT but i just may be a convert as i listen to aqualung for the 1st time . . . i can feel the emotional content and how it rubs against your narrative . . . i had a bench, well more of a shelter on a beach, it wasnt much but i called it home when nowhere else would do . . . i still walk past the spot every day and see the new guy taking my old spot.and at this time of year my feet go cold at the thought of a night there: these guys are tough – you do the subject justice tino. all the best 🙂

  • Daydreamertoo

    At a certain age, kids are so not judgmental.This was a very touching read for its depth and its honesty. Great poem.
    RYN: I used to drive all types of buses packed with up to 72 people and while you are right about not driving fast in rain, these roads here are wide open and hardly any traffic on them, nothing like in the UK. Although I know we cannot be prepared for everything, I’m a pretty good and very safe driver and would never put mine, or certainly no-one else’s lives at risk. There’s driving fast, and then there’s being foolish…lol.

  • Miriam E.

    this moved me to tears. how fortunate are we to have it warm… and how fast do we forget the luxuries.
    very touching.

  • brian

    hey you…glad you did pop in today…smiles….hope you are well…

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