Esther  Altshul  Helfgott:  The Homeless  One

intro part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 bio/references comments/reviews

The Homeless One Continues

 

The Homeless One Continues 

 

In the Back of the Laundromat | Ellen: When Schizophrenia Visits | Ellen’s Good Day |

 

 

In the Back of the Laundromat

 

I don’t want to live in Tent City 4 or in any other tent city.
I want to live in the back of the laundromat, alone,
where it’s warm and I can wrap myself in towels
and discarded sweaters.
People think I’m crazy. They’re afraid of me too,
like the woman named Esther, Genevieve’s friend,
who I saw in the bathroom at Ballard Hospital
that time. Boy, did she run. I guess I smelled bad,
but where am I supposed to wash?
I wish they’d put a shower stall in there, wouldn’t kill ’em.
Not that I’d use it. Who’d watch my cart?
I schlep it all over town,
and now I’m gonna leave it for another homeless person
to pilfer? I don’t think so.
Weren’t those the days when I used to visit Genevieve!
I’d water her flowers even when she’d tell me not to
and leave my bags on her front porch.
Once, I pinned a Valentine to her front door.
She must be 90 by now. The last time I saw her,
Esther was giving her a birthday bash
and that was a couple years back already.
Maybe I’ll pay the old girl a visit.
Oh, but she’ll just think I want more money
and run for a few coins.
Not that I couldn’t use them,
but I’m doing ok. Nobody’s bothering me,
and I’m not bothering anybody else.
So I smell bad. Who cares?
The folks in Wedgwood and Laurelhurst,
Medina, Queen Anne, Bothell?
The good souls in churches and synagogues and mosques
and universities?
I do care, you know, but this is who I am now.
At least I’m not killing anybody. I don’t make bombs
or order them dropped on people’s heads.
I don't put human beings on leashes either, and my name isn’t George W. Bush.
By the way, did I tell you my name is Ellen?*
Yes, it is. My name is Ellen.
Look at me.

 

                 - Esther Altshul Helfgott

 

originally published in the homeless person's newspaper
Real Change News
, December 9th - 22, 2004

http://www.realchangenews.org/index.html

 

 

Ellen: When Schizophrenia Visits

 

Voices emerge from sidewalks,
and from the bottoms of my feet.
They fall out of trees
and squeak like dead mice
trying to find a new home.
But there is no new home
or old one either.
People I used to know
have gone to other places
and I am alone
with my fruit cake
from somebody else’s Christmas.
Genevieve doesn’t understand this.
Nor does Esther.
Even Crysta doesn’t,
though I like her best
because she knows
that voices are my friends
even when they’re not.

 

                 - Esther Altshul Helfgott

 

originally published in the homeless person's newspaper
Real Change News
, July 8, 2004

 

 

Ellen’s Good Day

 

I guess I’ll call my mother, even if we never did get along,
and my sister and brother too. Though they’ll want me
to be normal just like they are, and I can’t be more than I already am.
My brain chemistry’s different from theirs.
Even if they have problems, I’m the one with the schizophrenia --
the one who hears the CIA, the FBI, the trees talking
outside my window.

Here I am in Seattle wandering the streets
like a poor sucker who never had a home.
As if I were just dropped here in these scruffy clothes,
this disoriented mind.
When in reality I was brought up like most Americans
in a regular house, a row house even, in Flatbush,
with neighbors all around
who Mother would call for a cup of sugar
when she’d run out and want to finish a cake before Dad got home.
Dad. He’s the one I got it from. My cousin, Jamey, has it too.
Runs in families. I don’t know ...
Or care.

I need to find a place to eat, a shelter for tonight.
I’ll be damned if I’ll hold up another sign
at the edge of the freeway.
Not today anyway. Seems to be a good one so far.
Probably because I took my meds.
I guess the doctor's right, damn him.
Wish he weren’t such a pain in the ass.
Wonder what kind of life he goes home to,
if he ever needed food to eat,
a place to sleep. Wonder…
What time is it?
The shelter should be open soon.
Maybe I’ll go to the library,
wait there,
find some paper and a pen.
Write a story.
Draw a picture.
Read.

 

                  - Esther Altshul Helfgott

 

originally published in: Real Change:
Seattle’s progressive weekly community newspaper
(Feb 8-14, 2006, p. 7)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

intro part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 bio/references comments/reviews

The Homeless One Continues

 

Copyrightę2003, 2004: Esther Altshul Helfgott

originally published by Kota Press, Seattle, WA. 1999, 2000

Cover graphics and design by Harry Jones

COPYRIGHT NOTICE


Esther Altshul Helfgott's Home Page  and see also www.analysands.homestead.com

 


top

Webdesign: Rudolf Suesske: June 2004

www.text-galerie.de