Friday, September 13, 2013

Hobo Handbook: Memoirs of a Homeless Poet in New York (Excerpt #17)

By Daniel Canada c.2010

It will become clearly evident in how you handle and comport yourself, and what route you take once you find yourself out here. When a hurried, working-class citizen walks down the street and sees a tattered man sleeping on the sidewalk on a cardboard, he might easily thinks that this is just another run-of-the-mill homeless person, like so many others he's seen.

In this chapter, I intend to take away the scales of society's constructs from your eyes and help you to see what is truly there in this image of the person on the sidewalk or the park bench. I intend to take you on an odyssey into the very lives of these otherwise invisible people. This I will also do even further in the upcoming chapter, "Personalities of the Homeless." When I am through, I hope you’ll have a better understanding of the various typesets that make up the composite group identified, collectively, as simply "The homeless."

So, lets us begin to dismantle this perceptual layer, by addressing the topic of the various stratum of homelessness, shall we?


A "Shelt" isn't worth a dime. I was originally inclined to say something much stringer, but curtailed my tongue, for the time being. You think I'm being overly harsh on this type of homeless individual? I can understand your concerned response. But if you allow me, I will outline the reasons for this seemingly shocking initial statement.

The "Shelt" is a person dwelling on the fringes of homelessness. He or she lives in a shelter, or SRO, but still likes to fake it and perpetuate the notion of living under the deprivations of the rest of the domicile. The word “Shelt” is short for shelter, in that it indicates a person still has a roof over their head and, for whatever reason, is not on the streets just yet.

However, you’ll always see the "Shelt" standing on line at every soup kitchen, church, synagogue, and run-of-the-mill government establishment that serves up grub to the homeless and indigent. They’ll be present on every swag line, and wait around in the evenings, in the cold, for hours for the Coalition for the Homeless and Midnight Run vans that comb the streets, giving out food and all kinds of accoutrements to the needy. 

Like a thief pass the time to cop a merchandise, they never miss a trick.
(To be Continued...)