The Warming/The Guardian (Voice and Vision 2021)

Jean K. Blackall’s initial piece:

The Warming. Mixed media collage, 16 x 20 inches

Jean’s Statement: Every city now seems to have homeless people wandering. How did there get to be so many? There are shelters where they can sleep but often they are feared by the people or, if suffering from addictions or mental illness, they are not able to cope with the regulations.  Many people choose to sleep out under bridges or in alley doorways. I worked with homeless people in Vancouver for five years when I was in my thirties. The images would not leave my mind so I did a series of collage works around this subject, and the art cleansed my soul and I am able to sleep without dreaming. The series is a way to bring the plight of the homeless before eyes that would normally avert from looking at a homeless person. I believe that every human is beloved and the presence of the universal energy is with each person, no matter the circumstances. This homeless person is in the presence of a spiritual protector.

The Guardian (my response to Jean’s collage):

Being homeless is no joy ride, that’s fer dern sure. I oughta know, I been there. Great Depression it was, old man outta a job so I took off. Bummed around till the war began. They gave me a uniform and a gun and a job to do, and I done it. It weren’t pretty but I done it.

But this kid o’ mine. Kid, heck, he’s a grown man. I told him, “Git yerself an education,” but he’d sass me back, “You didn’t get no education.” Told him I got a good one, in the war. Cuffed him till he got too big to cuff and then he lit out. Got himself a job till he got too old and they laid him off and now he’s bumming around. Homeless. Like I was.

I worry ‘bout him. Back then, weren’t no drugs like nowadays, just rotgut booze that might make you blind. But these days . . .

I try to cuff him when I see him reachin’ fer the needle but does no good when yer just a spectre. My hand just blows on right through his head. Whisperin’ in his ear works better. He must think it’s his conscience speakin’.

Oh sure, he’s got his mates, when they’re not tripped out on somethin’. They don’t look out for him the same way I do. The way I shoulda done when I had the chance. Guess I coulda been a better father. Shoulda been a better father.

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