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5:46 pm Tuesday, 13 April 2021
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Dole Fodder ©

I actually witnessed this event in a shopping centre in Doncaster in Australia, which to explain, is a somewhat affluent suburb in the east of Melbourne. A lot of the people in this area are well dressed, well educated, very nice, self centred, selfish, slightly up themselves individuals. It was in the Eightes during a time of high unemployment and some people had to do what they could to get by. This fellow also had a little girl about six in tow, he did the best version I’ve ever heard of “Buddy can you spare a dime”.

Thomas Matthew Edgar
Melbourne, Australia

A modern day minstrel with battered guitar,
dressed like a down and out bum,
stood by an arch on the mezzanine floor.
His cap held a pitiful sum.

He sang like an angel but nobody cared,
for the story which he had to tell
was a story that nobody wanted to hear.
('Misery's not easy to sell.')

This latter-day minstrel in ragged old jeans,
with tired eyes and something to say,
sang songs of lost dreams and wounded esteem,
of dole queues, and knock backs each day.

He pleaded for people to "Please understand!"
He was asking for only one chance-
honest employment, he'd give it his all-
but they walked by with hardly a glance.

Off to the side from a Yuppie boutique
an overdressed lady appeared.
With a gesture she summoned a young man in blue,
spoke a few discreet words in his ear.

With a nod and a wink he sidled away
then put on a serious look,
with an air of authority puffed out his chest,
then officiously pulled out his book.

Our minstrel stopped singing to scattered applause;
it seems he had done something wrong.
The 'Blue Boy' walked over and told him, "Right mate!
Pick up your stuff and move on!"

In dignified silence he picked up his things,
and with shoulders hunched in defeat
walked through the archway from everyone's view
and disappeared into the street.

The message I gathered, profoundly and clear,
as I witnessed this sorrowful scene:
Sympathy's scarce on the planet this year.
"Dear Jesus Christ,
where have you been?"

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