…but instead…

Posted on May 1, 2012 by Steve

The following is a contribution by fellow Beat Enforcement Team member Tyler Urquhart, inspired by some of the people he’s met along Hastings Street. He says it’s “kind of a poem.”

A Grandfather,
Bouncing grandchildren on his knees.
Burgers, ribs, the family barbecue,
Stories of ‘how things used to be’,
chasing girls, a classic car, old friend,
Wisdom, command,
always an unspoken respect for the Patriarch.

… but instead …

An old, worn-out man long past his due date.
An addict, a recluse, full of delusion, full of disease.
Erupting in anger and compulsive put-downs.
Spare change? Spare change?
Missing pieces…missing places… farther from human.

A young Mother,
A shy toddler, spying, hooked on her leg.
Coffee with old girlfriends.
Other little ones mingle.
She checks the time on her Iphone,
Loving husband still at work,
Family time soon,
with talk of another little one on the way.

… but instead …

Soaked to the bone,
crouched on wet cement in a nasty alleyway.
Poison in her bra.
Rock? Rock? Up? Down?
There are no children back here.
Waiting for her turn to fix.
‘Where’s my money bitch?’
The dealers’ had enough … she’s short again.
Time to pay up.
No family … No hope … No life,
Only misery and thoughts of the next fix.

An educated young man,
Top of his class,
Proud parents,
Head hunted, sought after.
Set to make more money than he ever imagined possible,
A lady-killer,
On top of the world,

… but instead …

A scabbed-up, jib-head thief.
Those who would have spoken highly of him, he has stolen from.
A loser, beyond desperate for another mind bender.
Suicidal thoughts,
Stuck with cockroaches and bed bugs.
Constantly running,
Running from the drug dealer he owes $150 to,
Running from the cops who want to lock him up,
Running from the truth of his existence.
Hoping to be listened to.

A mother, father, son and daughter.
Family. Close, full of love, hope, support.
Holiday turkey dinners.
Hallmark cards and balloons every birthday.
Father and son watching the game,
Mother and daughter embrace and recognize the unspoken trust.
No one goes hungry here.

… but instead ….

Forever a mother and father.
Up all night with worry.
Father can’t help but cope with 3 fingers of 90 proof.
Mother can only cry.
The shadows of addiction have taken those most precious.
Had to change the locks on the house.
Had to stop answering the phone.
Unreliable, untrustworthy, unstoppable.
Addicts no longer welcome.
Forever a mother and father,
Up all night with worry.

A few in a cast of thousands in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.
What could have been…but instead…what is.

– Tyler Urquhart

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