By Tyler Quock
Poetry from the streets of Whitehorse.
I have spent a lot of time on the pavement of Whitehorse, digging deep for all the different reasons one can roam these darkened places. I have heard and seen more than I would care to share or admit. I watched as the wanderers scrounged, fed and shared each other’s hard-earned bounty. The streets wear feathers, constantly shaking, they fall to the ground as others pick them up off the concrete and wear them as decoration on their faces and in their lungs.
The empathy in me burns with desire to help these people. Every day, I walk past them and share a head nod and a distant memory. Sinking between the spots, I have laid my ear to rest. I have heard much of the heartbreak and added what condolences I can. It all becomes a puddled mess, with fog that surrounds the true feelings, as they erupt outside the Salvation Army or some shady bar. I have seen people wall in their fears — trying desperately to hide their darkest shadows behind a cloud of smoke or a fortress of empty beer cans. Not only have I observed these tendencies, I have also done a majority of hiding from demons in my hometown, bourn into the cold and night.
The housing struggle alone in Whitehorse is enough to feel like a strangle hold, if you don’t have the proper safety nets in place to catch you, when you slip between months. As winter approaches, I see the stress etched into the faces of those moving around me in brisk fashion, steady trying to accumulate what they can for the creeping silence.
The layers quake — you can see the classes as they walk past in either upright brisk ignorance or mock empathy. I would never blame people for the mind-states they are in, or how a human can lack what values it takes to keep oneself healthy and happy – it’s a good place to be, a warm place like the walls of a home.
There is another place we fall into in the human condition, which brings me to what I think breeds the homeless mentality and the place most of the fear is born — desperation. It feeds on our souls slowly like cocaine and diminishing serotonin. It is beyond stress. It is looking into the void and not knowing what to do but laugh, in a way you have never laughed. It’s a crooked, desperate laugh, piercing into the past and future. Dispelling this feeling is near impossible without time and conditioning. Not to say it is a hopeless affair, but the damage takes time to heal; adequate self-care is the only way over time.
Needless to say, I would not wish the homeless/street mentality on anyone — whether it is being too drunk to go.