With a wooden spoon I stirred burnt oatmeal. Most of the large flakes had turned black and stuck against the bent aluminum pot. I cursed myself because it was the last of my food. Breakfast was the large meal that would keep me going until the afternoon. By then I hoped to beg or steal for something to eat.
I was a realist. I knew that my near future was bleak. I knew that in two days it would be the end of the month and I would be tossed out from my apartment because it was the third month in a row I couldn’t come up with the rent. I knew that the last scoops of the unburned parts of the oatmeal could be my final unholy breakfast. I knew that I was banned from the food bank as I could be an out-of-control madman who caused a ruckus with staff and clients-- and I shouldn’t have taken a swing at the director because I thought he was calling me names when all he was doing was trying to calm me down. But there were those Christmas carols singing in my head; cursing me, threatening me, making me hear the voices of devils. The cops never should of beat me like they did, their night sticks cracking open my skull and their boots kicking me along my legs. They shouldn’t have let me bleed in the cell and make me clean up my own wet blood before they sent me out alone into the cold morning.
The weatherman said it was going to be below freezing and I had no place to sleep. No family, no friends, no homeless shelter worker to take me in. Once I had all of them, but I caused a ruckus in their lives too. I knew I was unemployable, because I had bad posture, bad clothes, bad teeth and I carried myself like some sort of distorted, twisted lunatic.
I hated everything. I hated my life. I was mad, like in crazy angry. So I hit myself with my wooden spoon. The hot oatmeal burned my face and the top of my head. But I wanted to hurt myself some more and more. So I hit myself again and again. And I poured the pot of scalding steaming oatmeal over me and I felt the stinging bubbling welts on my blistering skin. I placed my right hand over the red burning ring of the stove till I couldn’t bear the pain anymore.
Let the hospital take care of me. They bandage you up. They feed you there. If you don’t cause a ruckus they might find you a place to live where they can feed you. Maybe they can even stop the devil Christmas Carols singing in your head. Otherwise I’ll starve and freeze to death during the first days of winter, my last meal the remains of burnt oatmeal
Poems of the Week by Robin, Julian and Frank
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