I have really enjoyed my first visit to the NW of the USA and am currently in Portland, Oregon, but the big shock is the level of homelessness here and in Seattle, Washington. It is a feature of every street in both city centres and is heartbreaking. Whilst this issue is increasing back in Belfast, for various reasons, it is a minuscule problem in comparison with what we have seen here. However, 12 years ago I made the same comments about food poverty here in the US in comparison with the UK in the light of the number of food banks I saw here on a fact finding tour. I fear that like much of popular culture crossing the Atlantic, the more our political masters mimic US tax and welfare policies (which can only increase in the wake of a no-deal Brexit) then I fear we will also import this aspect of American culture too.

Sleep in the daytime
Beneath the view of passers-by:
Priest, pastor, layperson and typically
uncaring contemporary Samaritan.
Sleep, because nightime is coming.

Sleep in the summer
Spoiling the streets for foreigners
Clutching guide books and mobile phones
Seeking but ignoring the real city.
Sleep, because winter is coming.

Sleep away the hunger.
Walk away the cold.
Self-medicate the voices
and the pain away.
Condemned for your choices
When the choices of others
Have condemned you to a kerbside,
Have robbed you of a roof,
Where is the humanity
That allows such indignity?
Your worldly possessions
Crammed into a shopping cart
Designed for people to take home
More than they need.
While what you need
Is somewhere to call home.



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