Pride & Spare Change

I don’t know if I like art
most of its “abstractarity” just makes me feel poor and stupid
gently reminding me of the immigrant I really am
like the times I was advised to keep my aspirations as low as my voice
by teachers and classmates who’ll never see poverty like I have
I kept to myself for years about it
as I heard the privileged talk about harsh ghettos
as if they’d actually been there
and spent their adolescent years experiencing it
I resented a lot of people who thought they knew it like me
who thought they knew it better than me
all without really knowing it
until I saw a homeless man in Queen Street ask me for money
as if he never had a chance to earn it himself
why did I hate this man for being broke?
why did I hate this man being like my family back home?
I was disgusted
by the way the man presented himself to me
as if his life really depended on petty money
but maybe it did
so I condescendingly spared him some change
and watched him desperately clutch on to what could possibly be his drug-money
seeing him preciously hold on to it
like when I when I was a kid
and received Christmas and birthday presents from mum and dad
without knowing just how much they were financially struggling
I sat by the bus stop across from him
and saw another man compassionately pass him some change without a second thought
as he carried on walking his way with an infectious smile on his face
then I realized
that sometimes
it didn’t really matter where we’re from
or what we did
because we’ll all be in the same parties and streets anyways
— I’ve been broke and down before too
so I know how it feels.
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