A Toast

by Kim Clark

A toast-

To all the times I’ve told you that the needles in your arms
Won’t repel the sweating leather men who’re eating out your palms
And for all the dogs on Queen Street teaching homeless men to beg
It’ll only numb the winter if you stab it in your leg.

And to copper coins and cobblers and the promise of a meal,
And to friendly note-exchanges and the silence of the deal,
And my love goes out to hunger and the golds that grace your hat
And the pocket-plenty strangers throwing curses where you’re sat.

Then to all the times he promised that he’d find for you a roof
And to every time you nodded even though you knew the truth
Then for all the smiles of pity and the forks of fat-fried food
And the hate you have for living, for the rich and for the rude.

And to sleeping bags and street lamps and the sound of being sick
And to magazine-made nonchalance and coats four inches thick
And condolences to morphine and the numbness in your toes
And the beauty of a punter while you’re bustin’ up his nose.

Then to all the times they’ve told you you’re a nuisance to their trade
And uprooted you from rubbish and the roostings you have made,
Then for all the fat policemen, bellies full on Sunday roast
Who appropriately reason with the odour that you boast.

And to broken hearts and heroin and skin stretched over bones
And to hospitals and alleyways and knives and mobile phones,
And to hope and love and hatred and to off-license receipts
And to all the sturdy soldiers kicking ass upon the streets.