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This Poem was inspired by the many homeless I saw frequent an old cafe in Toronto during the Winter lockdown of 2020.

By Dean F. HardyPublished about a year ago Updated about a year ago 1 min read
Top Story - April 2023
Photo taken by myself

I sit and face

the window

in a cheap coffee shop,

one that smells

of old fryer oil

and dirty dishwater

and the lights,

flicker and buzz

just like, the people




the people are quiet

and hold a vacant stare

as if trapped

in a memory.

Their coffee has long since

gone cold,

just as their lives have.

That hollow gaze

is not the expression

of a life lived in comfort,

it is the twisted torment

of the forgotten

the broken

the damned

the lost souls,

that wander the streets

like tortured spectres in the night

whilst we sleep

behind lock and key.

And as our bolts

slam shut,

dark silence descends

upon the City

and the poorest of us

creep, crawl, crouch and


in places where,

not even the rats will go.


And as the new day dawns,

those who survived

the night's promise

roll the dice

once again,

and shuffle out of

the shadows of death

to lay at our feet.

A few quarters here and there,

just enough

for a hot cup

in the cheap coffee shop,

and when they enter

into the warmth

they watch the steam rise

from the glorious liquid

until it fades,

and the day


and the memory of

last night, watches them

through the window,

until it's time to rise

and go back there,


not even the rats will go.

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About the Creator

Dean F. Hardy

Writer from Dublin, Ireland.

*All work here is owned by Dean F. Hardy*

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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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  1. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

  2. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  3. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  1. Masterful proofreading

    Zero grammar & spelling mistakes

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    Well-structured & engaging content

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    Writing reflected the title & theme

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    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

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Comments (31)

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  • C. H. Richardabout a year ago

    Thank you for putting a light on those who are often unseen. Brilliant poem.

  • Gina C.about a year ago

    Absolutely amazing poem; heartfelt words, observations, and perspective!

  • J. Delaney-Howeabout a year ago

    This is fantastic. Left me feeling a bit sad, but that is because you shined a light on homelessness, a big problem country wide. We have a large homeless population in the city I live by. (I am out in the country). Good work.

  • Pauline Fountainabout a year ago

    Hi there Dean THANK YOU. I have been homeless 4 times, 3 couch surfing and once on the streets. You question how you found yourself in this situation - fighting the known reality. Desperate, isolated, frightened with the loss of hope. How to survive? How to stay safe? How to find food? My source? I knew well of a large busy multi-storey shopping complex in the hub of city with a large eatery. I used to previously visit regularly when studying and working in a professional capacity. Now I would hover on the outer margins and I kept a watchful eye as people ate the multicultural offerings. When someone or a table of people stood to leave, if they had left overs I’d take a seat. Shamefully trying to disguise hoping I wouldn’t be recognised. Ever alert for my next table hop. And yes if lucky I’d drink unfinished coffee.

  • Donna Fox (HKB)about a year ago

    I like the imagery in your piece, it feels very vivid and familiar to me! Funny the places that we find inspiration, it made for a great poem. Nicely done Dean!

  • Mark Grahamabout a year ago

    It sounds like day to day living when feeling sad about what is going on around.

  • Samia Afraabout a year ago

    Great work, very heart-felt and insightful

  • Sarah Wilcoxabout a year ago

    A rawness that alludes most people these days! Not only could I see the faces of dread but I could smell the coffee as it grew cold. Your writing soaks in. Can’t wait to read more of your work!

  • Roabout a year ago

    "That hollow gaze is not the expression of a life lived in comfort, it is the twisted torment of the forgotten...." What a phenomenal line.

  • Dana Stewartabout a year ago

    You captured the despair so beautifully. I was wrapped up in the cadence, congratulations on Top Story!

  • Lamar Wigginsabout a year ago

    Congrats Dean! Your words choices and placements are impressive. Rats is such a dirty sounding word and adds a great effect to this piece. And, I will never forget "This Place" One of my favorites on Vocal from the mind that we call Dean!

  • Brenton Fabout a year ago

    serenely beautiful...

  • Ahna Lewisabout a year ago

    This poem pulled me right in! So well expressed and such a powerful message.

  • Caroline Janeabout a year ago

    Excellent. Love how you have shaped this to creep off the page. Visceral and resonant.

  • Cendrine Marrouatabout a year ago

    Powerful, to say the least. "not even the rats will go" carries the message in itself. It would make a poem on its own. Have you thought of turning this piece into a song?

  • Extraordinary work 😉❤️🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉Congrats on your Top Story❗❗❗

  • Cathy holmesabout a year ago

    I'm so glad they gave this a top story. Well deserved.

  • Kristen Balyeatabout a year ago

    Ohhhhhh myyyyy- this was rattling. Thank you for this beautifully haunting and sobering piece. We take so much for granted. Congrats on top story- SO WELL DESERVED! 💫

  • Dana Crandellabout a year ago

    You, Sir, are a wordsmith! Congratulations on the well-deserved recognition!

  • J. S. Wadeabout a year ago

    Your observation skills and mastery at the transposition to words with the senses is astounding, rare, and very appreciated. 🥰🥇. TS is where it belongs. Congrats.

  • Heather Hublerabout a year ago

    Congratulations on Top Story, my friend :)

  • Judey Kalchik about a year ago

    Very glad this is presented as Top Story-

  • JBazabout a year ago

    Unfortunately this is all too true. Great observation and a beautiful way to tell it.

  • Loryne Andaweyabout a year ago

    That was haunting. Excellent commentary in poetry form.

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