For Eamon Anderson.

Men do not freeze to death
in the 21st century,
they do not freeze to death in October,
they do not freeze to death
in toilet cubicles
opposite hotels and shopping centres.
Men do not die because
there are no clouds forecast,
just a night that falls into space
and a vigilant moon,
the colour of ivory.

Drop-in centres do not close.
Funding is never cut.
There is never nowhere to go.
Mothers do not mourn
nor are they sedated.

Men do not become alcoholics,
they have no reasons for doing so,
they do not sleep on the streets,
they are not dragged from their coffins
by friends in the same mad fog of drink
saying in genuine confusion,
“Budgie, stop messing around,
get up dae fuck.”
And sure enough,
as the good book says,
men come back from the dead.

Shoppers do not walk past tutting,
a grown man in a halo of blood
outside a supermarket entrance,
lying near enough
to make the doors open and close.
Strangers do not kick his teeth in
or set him on fire for a laugh
while he sleeps.
The past is repealed.
Men do not break into pensioners’ homes
for drinking money
and trash the place in blind rage.
Men do not place derisory coins
in their relative’s hands
while fobbing them off embarrassed
in front of their pals,
then shill poems about it.

None of this happened.
Men do not freeze to death
in the 21st century,
they do not freeze in October,
not in the West, not here
and definitely not now.
You are mistaken.
Now move along.

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