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Poverty's skanky tarts

  • 06 June 2012

Poverty is an ocean of submerged, twinned predators: neglect and abuse, disease and stunted futures, malnutrition and obesity, fear and anger, hatred and ignorance, self-absorption and apathy.

Poverty's the crook water dribbling from broken faucets and fouled cisterns. The leftovers and congealed crumbs scraped off the plates of the rich. Polluted air from crowded, noisome cul-de-sacs, barely sustaining life. Fouling our lungs. Rotting our soil.

Poverty monopolises websites, takes out the front pages of newspapers and leads news bulletins, masquerading as homelessness, crime, unemployment, violence and substance abuse.

Poverty is this land's ochred custodians and carers, branded by government propagandists as addicts, paedophiles, wife-beaters, coffin cheaters, and ne'er-do-wells. Poverty is the unpaid rent of more than 200 years of colonisation.

Poverty leaves a kid to her own solitary devices in the corner of a one-bedroom unit. It's a child who will never be read to. Who doesn't access a computer, learn to play or study, or score a well-paid job. It's teenagers who bash exchange students for iPads and points of difference.

Poverty is pensioners eating canned excuses for a decent meal. The bloke with a broken back whose job's gone. Whose health is broken. Whose marriage is stuffed.

Poverty is what happens when I don't care about you, you don't give a toss about me, and our neighbours have got no hope. For many Australians, even high flyers, poverty's skanky tarts — foreclosure, repossession and bankruptcy — are only a handful of missed paydays away.

Poverty is more than an empty purse.

Poverty is people despairing of ever being held and wanted. It's broken spirits who no longer sustain any belief in life, any hope for the future or any joy in the present. Jumping headlong onto train lines, OD-ing in laneways, cracking on to suicide by cop.

Poverty is anyone who can't or won't take the time to stop and listen to another human being.

'Blessed are the poor in spirit' who end up touting as case studies for faith-based organisations and NGOs; that's their only chance to come up for air and be affirmed as belonging to 'our mob'.

Poverty is feeling (being?) Godforsaken. Shattered in a world of incredible creativity and beauty. Losing hope when you need it most. Being robbed