Fort of the River

This isn't a poem. I just started writing it this way and decided that I liked it. There are plenty of clues about which city this is inspired by so ten points to Gryffindor if you can get it.

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1. Fort of the River

 

They found a body in the river yesterday.

I wish it was me instead of that eighteen year old lad

Who still had his whole life ahead of him,

And a family who cared.

The police are still investigating.

They don’t know how he got there.

People are asking, “Did he jump?” “Was it murder?”

I’m asking, “Would anyone care if he was instead, a 23 year old man

Living rough on the streets?”

That’s what stops me from jumping.

The fear of never being found.

The fear of never being mourned.

I want people to remember me.

 

I’m walking along the embankment.

A boat full of tourists is sailing along the river.

They find it beautiful.

I’m just thinking about that poor kid.

Seagulls graze on the breadcrumbs someone has left behind.

They always think about the birds,

Never the people who starve,

And sweat,

And soak

In the rain.

 

Under the bridge I go.

It’s dark and damp from the storm.

The old woman plays her accordion,

Its’ sweet harmony lost in the rumble of the train overhead.

I wonder where it’s going.

 

The stadium lies before me

Like a trophy,

Empty seats waiting to be filled on match day.

Sometimes you can hear them;

Cheering,

Chanting,

Singing the anthem with pride.

 

The river looks nicer from this angle.

It looks clean.

 

Huge cranes soar into the grey clouds

As bulldozers demolish the old station.

They have enough money to renovate,

New offices for jobs and new facilities for the tourists.

They’re calling it Central Square.

I’m calling it a waste of money.

What about the shelters? What about the food banks?

For the man that’s huddled in the corner

Staring at the mural on the wall,

24 hours,

7 days a week.

 

It’s pretty, the mural.

The artist has talent.

 

I wish I had something.

 

There’s a busker outside the market,

Strumming on his guitar.

People drop coins in the empty case because he can sing.

I can’t sing. I can’t play guitar.

No one thinks I’m worth even a penny.

I’m not worth the change that is a burden in their wallets.

 

“Big Issue!” Someone yells,

Trying desperately to sell the magazine that no one wants.

People walk away.

They are blind. They are deaf.

They won’t even donate to charity,

And somehow we were named the kindest city.

I dread to think what the unkind cities are like.

 

Someone is sleeping in the doorway of an unused building.

They have no blanket, but they’ve got their dog.

I wish I had one; a blanket, and a dog.

It gets cold on the streets.

 

It gets lonely.

 

Double decker buses line the castle,

Like soldiers at Buckingham palace.

The heart of the city.

It pulsates with tourists,

Burning holes in their pockets.

I’ve lived here all my life and I still find it beautiful,

How something so old can still stand so strong.

 

If only people were like that.

Humans are too fragile,

Like the glass that crunches beneath my feet.

We don’t just break.

 

We shatter.

 

I’m on the bridge again,

On the other side of the stadium.

Looking down at the river,

Thinking about that kid.

What broke him?

Who broke him?

 

You don’t need to know someone to care.

Settling down in my usual spot under the bridge.

You don’t need to know their story.

I don’t have much, but I have enough.

Not everyone has one worth telling.

It’s warm tonight.

But here’s mine.

Sleep comes.

I hope you’re listening.

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