Hobo Handbook: Memoirs of a Homeless Poet in New York (Excerpt #24)


By Daniel Canada c.2010 

THE BEGGARS (Continued)

Now, after I've finished lambasting the homeless sham artist, I am burdened at last with the overwhelming need to vent a personal vituperation against a small group of the homeless that I've ran into along my travails...I meant travels. These guys and gals are not as insidious as the ones I've taken pain to "out," as the saying goes, to expose for the frauds they are. This next group is simply, how does one say? An eclectic lot among the undomiciled.

These are the homeless vegetarians.


Yes. I had to go there. But I'll make it brief and as painless as possible. The reason I had to touch on this topic is that I was astonished to find such a thing actually existed out here.

Here's the scenario. I'm in a church, on a soup line. Everyone steps up to get a hot plate of whatever they're serving. The line suddenly comes to an abrupt halt.  Some homeless person is fussing with one of the volunteer servers over the contents of his plate.

“I said I don't eat meat. I'm a vegetarian!” he complains, as if there was some hidden conspiracy to sneak meat onto his plate.

“Well then, you're going to have to step aside, so we can prepare a special vegetarian plate for you.”

The homeless vegetarian finally steps aside to allow the rest of the waiting, hungry folks to move forward on the line. “And make sure they don't mix any scraps of meat into my food. You know I can't eat any meat!” he sternly warns the patient volunteer server, while waiting on the side of the line.

The server takes a good look at him. “You know all we have is some white rice and string beans. But I can give you an extra helping of that, if you want.”

The homeless vegetarian frowns, as if he's being giving the short stick out of a draw on Gilligan's Island.


Wait a minute! Something's out of place with this entire business here!

This is the streets, and you're in a bloody-excuse the French-church soup kitchen.  Special orders are for five-star restaurants, like Tavern on the Green, buddy.  When you're out here, you have to eat what you're given.

Besides, what's up with the lack of gratitude?

Being on a vegetarian diet is difficult for working-class people to afford. For a homeless person to expect to be served steamy dishes of vegetable delight everyday on a church soup line is all together unreasonable.

The local Hare Krishna temple serves vegetarian diners on Wednesday nights, sunshine.

So be there.

Homeless vegetarians, on your mark...Get set...Go!

(To be continued...) 

Hobo Handbook: Memoirs of a Homeless Poet in New York (Excerpt #23)

 By Daniel Canada c.2010

Enough said.

All of us has had the occasion to be confronted with the decision to give up a portion of our hard-earned money to the street beggar. And many a sympathetic person has had to wrestle with their consciences, as whether to appropriate a few shekels to the outstretched hands of these most pitiable souls. However, I'm going to peel the veneer away from this type of individual, and expose the truth about the common beggar.

I might have to watch my back on the streets after this.



After demonstrating how impossible it is for a homeless person to go hungry in any giving city, with all the abundant soup kitchens, courtesy of the selfless churches, synagogues, along with the begrudged run-of-the-mill, government grub establishments, all I have to say about the beggars is it's now obvious they are all full of shit. I like the beggars who post signs requesting money to purchase more beer. They're true to the game and are shooting from the hip. And believe it or not they have regular customers who give them donations anyway.

I reckon fellow drinkers, heading on their merry way to their favorite watering holes after work, understand what it's like to be thirty and need a drink or two, once in a while. As well-wishers, who have a few extra bucks to throw away at their favorite bars, they can afford to drop a couple of lettuce into this type of beggar's cup.

The rest of the hockey-pucks out there, hoisting cardboard signs about being hungry, stranded out of town, and what not, ought to get Tony Awards simply for mastering the art of bullshitting, or MBAs for selling the biggest hoax ever perpetrated upon hard-working Americans.

Next time you see a homeless beggar, give him a ham sandwich or a bagel instead, and see what he does with it.

Be sure to check the nearest garbage can later in the day.
(To be continued...)


Hobo Handbook: Memoirs of a Homeless Poet in New York (Excerpt #22)

 By Daniel Canada c.2010

O.k. So here's how I suppose it went down. After making the formal request to be initiated into Alfred E. Neuman Phi Fraternal House in F. U., they are told to meet up at a certain place and time. They are sternly warned not to reveal this information to anyone else, or they'll be hung upside down by their toenails. 

They show up. A van with dark windows pulls to the curb, and out charges three hooded, overly zealous, pubescent, fraternal brothers or sisters, who grab a halt of them, shove them into the van, make them change their school clothes for a pair of worn-out, homeless, "Skeksy"-looking gear. They tell them that if they want to enjoy the rights and privileges of the fraternity, then they must submit to the harsh ritual of "slumming it" as homeless people, all day for several days, and that they will be promptly picked up by the same van and in the same location at mid-night.

So, there you have it! If you take the time to notice you too will see their kind, squatting around with cardboard boxes, all throughout the Midtown areas. To the average person, all homeless people are the same.

But not to us! 

We have eyes that can truly see.

One night I'm going to drum up the nerve to case these kids out, and I bet you-say a quarter, since that's something I can afford to lose-that at midnight a dark, mysterious van's going to pull up. Several hooded adolescent kids will pour out of the partially opened door, and whisk the other kids away, back to the warmth and safety of the college dorms.

I wonder what happened to the days, when fraternities use to parade their candidates down the street with ropes around their necks, hazing them along the way, like making them pick up cigarette butts from the sidewalk, and what not? 

Ah! The good old days!

If you ain't homeless and on your ass out in the street, stop shamming! It's hard enough getting the average working-class person to comprehend the complexities that brought millions of once productive citizens to their knees, and out in a world sans the comfort of a home. It's tough enough to get others to understand how difficult it is to survive out in this wild concrete jungle, without a pot to piss in and a window to throw it out of. 

Don't complicate matters, in the name of a science project, or university sponsored study. On the other hand, if you guys really belong to a college fraternity, I submit that you speak to the Grand Poobah, or whoever's in charge, and suggest going back to the old rope and collecting cigarette butts, hazing ritual. 

That way people can separate the homeless from the student.
(To be continued...)

Hobo Handbook: Memoirs of a Homeless Poet in New York (Excerpt #21)


 By Daniel Canada c.2010


If you're taking up psychology, if you're taking up political science, fine. I don't give a hoot in hell if you're just meandering about in the dorms of the universities, studying liberal arts and don't have a fucking clue what in the hell you want to do for the next semester, or the rest of your life. But don't get the notion that you're so goddamned smart that you can outsmart a homeless person about being homeless. 

Ah! You know what I'm talking about? 

I’m talking about you college kids I see hanging around on street corners, sitting on the ground with cardboard signs, saying "I'm broke, and homeless, and need a few dollars to eat."

Yeah, that shit. 

As I walk down the streets of Fifth Avenue, or anywhere in the Mid-Town area of Manhattan, and run into these youngsters, I have to shake my head in disbelief. 

Where the Christ do they come from? 

Ok. I’m going to let you in on a little homeless secret. 

Most homeless people know each other. We're part of an unknown, underground "community." We eat at the same places, use the same public facilities, shower at the same places, and yes, sleep generally in the same areas. So homeless people in Manhattan , or the Bronx , or where ever they live, see each other all the time. Once in a while we'll even exchange pleasantries, or curse words, or just flip each other the bird in passing. But if we threw a stick in a crowd of homeless people, chances are the average “Skek” probably could name ninety-five percent of the ones the damned stick hit.

So, once again the question. Who in God's earth are these middle-class, suburban looking youngsters, fronting about on the sidewalks like they're homeless, and down and out?

Where the hell do they come from?

College, of course.

They're college students, engaging in some kind of undercover college study. Perhaps it's about homeless life in America, or demographics. I can't wait to see their thesis when it comes out! I hope they got all their facts straight, and they're gearing up to become lobbyist, to pressure congress to appropriate more funding for the homeless in America. 

Somehow, I just don't think that this is the case.

Racking my brain on this strange phenomenon, I was forced to entertain the thought that what I'm looking at is really not what I'm looking at. Let me explain my conjecture. If what I’m witnessing is not some new wave of middle-class, suburban, college kids, "slumming it out," to gather real-life facts about living out on the streets, then perhaps they are members of a secret fraternity.

That's right, a fra-ter-nity, for those of you who might be aghast at this declaration.

Maybe all this sitting in the back of cardboard boxes with handwritten signs, supplicating passersby for money, wearing less-than-persuasive cheap swag, and looking all down and out, is just part of a fraternity initiation process.

You know, a couple of college kids succumb to peer pressure. They want to be popular and to get laid. So they join the local college fraternity. Be it Alpha, Beta, or Sigmund Freudian Phi, most colleges have a fraternity and plenty of young men and women want to have the prestige of belonging to such a fraternal order. So they line up in mass to get their asses branded. It looks really cool at parties, and once again, it gets you laid.
(To be continued...)


Hobo Handbook: Memoirs of a Homeless Poet in New York (Excerpt #20)

 By Daniel Canada c.2010

“Skelsie” is a combination of the two words, “Skeksis” and “Skell.” Firstly, I need to explain what a “Skell” is. "Skell" is an abbreviation for skeleton, and is a terminology used by most police officers when referring to a homeless person. 

Like a lifeless skeleton, with no hope of returning to the world of the living, they have come to view all homeless to be nothing more than mere skeletons. When you don a skeleton custom for Halloween, you're a “skeleton” for a night. The homeless are “skeletons” for life.

Now, a “Skelsie” or “Skelsy” is a "Skeksis"-or "Skeksy," as I like to spell it-that has become one of the living dead, a virtual zombie.

Are you confused enough yet? I hope not.

Nevertheless, they are considered to be the soulless ones, who may not even know they exist anymore than a person in a vegetative state, on a respirator.

Besides the fact that they have long-since given up on the upkeep of their bodies, they have very little communication with the outside world. You might see them in a rush hour crowd, starring off into space or holding a vigorous conversation with themselves. Their ship has lifted anchor and sailed away into the azure horizons many moons ago, friends.

This is what I mean by a "Skelsie."

Even the police leave them alone. And if they have to respond to some irritated neighbor's call, complaining about some crazed man or woman being a blatherskite at two o'clock in the morning, the police call an ambulance to take them to Bellevue Hospital or the nearest hospital that has a psyche ward. The polite police officers refer to these as EDPs, emotional disturbed persons. They really don't care to have any further dealings with them.

The “Skelsie” stands alone. 

Now, I would like to further illuminate upon an otherwise, hither-to-unknown, homeless phenomenon. One that, would it not be for my drawing attention to it, would go unnoticed among the pantheon of homeless folks you pass on any given day of the week. It's a strange, eclectic group of homeless folks I dubbed "The College Kids." Even you will have difficulty wrapping your brain around this one.
(To be Continued...)


Hobo Handbook: Memoirs of a Homeless Poet in New York (Excerpt #19)

By Daniel Canada c.2010

As you can see by the above title, the correct spellings are as such. However, I like to rearrange the spelling of words, thus my spelling of “Skeksy,” or “Skeksies” for the plural. There's also the word “Skek,” which is the abbreviated form of “Skeksy.”

So much for that.

In reality, the word “Skeksis” comes from a Walt Disney Movie, entitled “The Dark Crystal.” In this great puppeteer work by the late Jim Henson, there was a bunch of evil buzzards, who ruled the land with a despotic iron hand-or should I say claw. Anyway, these buzzards called “Skeksis” were the epitome of uncouth and gross behavior. When they ate at the dinner table, they squabbled over pieces of meat. Food would daggle from their mouths as they partook of their victuals. They were filthy and unkempt.

What else can you expect from buzzards?

Unfortunately, a good portion of the homeless population fit this description too.  That's why I refer to them as “Skeksies.” Watching a "Skeksy" eat is enough to convince you that humans really don't need to eat food in order survive. It will certainly turn your stomach upside down and completely ruin your appetite.

I still haven’t figured out why it's necessary for "Skeksies" to leave food particles around their mouths when eating. Are their lips magnetic? Dining at the table with "Skeksies" is a hard ordeal. They talk with mouths full of food, and with foodstuff falling out of their maws. They throw food on the floor when a garbage can is within handy reach. They just don’t give a good-flying-Dutchman's fuck about anything they do.

"Skeksies" don’t bother to wash or change their clothing either. They seem as if they want to be left alone. You can spot a "Skeksy" coming down the block from a good distance too. No one else on the surface of the planet walks like them. They have the walk of the preternatural, of the living dead. It's as if some body part on them has failed, and they have to get along the best they can without it.

I’ve often wondered why they hobble from side-to-side, like a metronome when walking. And then one day I realized what it was. Before they became homeless, they were use to walking about the street with a cool, ditty-bop, but now after being out here on the street so long, sleeping on the hard concrete and what not, their ditty-bop got broken down. Now, all that's left is an awkward wobble.

Even their speech has deteriorated into guttural groans and indecipherable grunts. Neanderthal sounds have replaced what was once their diction. It's impossible to describe it in words, but once you've experienced a "Skek" and heard them speak, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about.

What more can one say about a "Skeksy," other than they are considered, even by homeless people, to be the lowest of humankind. This poses a challenge to Darwinian Evolution. Humankind is supposed to have evolved from a primitive state to what we are now.

The "Skeksy" has apparently devolved back to the primitive. Before long, they will be swinging from trees in Central Park. I learned something vital, in which I would like to share with you. Whatever you do, during your time spent on the streets, do not fail to give constant attention to your person. As the saying goes, "check yourself, before you wreck yourself." Then you won't lose respect for yourself, and not be able to correct yourself, and have to reject yourself. O.k. I'm sure you get the point of where I'm proceeding with this logic. Bottom line is, you don't want to end up being a "Skeksy, just because you're homeless."

Life is hard enough for an undomiciled person. Elevating oneself back to the level one has taken a tumble from is a real challenge, but there's still hope. However, once you've descended to the level of a "Skeksy," chances are you might not be able to return to the place from whence you've come.

Aside from this, there is another group that I've run into out here, that is definitely on the long slide to the point of no return. This is what I call the "Skelsie." Just from the name of it, I'm sure you can tell it's not going to be pleasant discussing.
(To be Continued...)

A Message from the Author Concerning Hobo Handbook: Memoirs of a Homeless Poet in New York

Message From the Author:


I'd like to pause from posting and just take out the time to thank all of my readers on Face Book & my subsequent blog sites, for your support;  your reading and commenting on my Face Book site & blog site, concerning the "Hobo Handbook:  Memoirs of a Homeless Poet in New York." I'd certainly greatly appreciate your words and suggestions.

Firstly, I like to apologize for several typographical errors that I discovered upon reviewing my own works.  These misspellings have crept up a number of times, and are insidious little bastards, in that they can undermine the seriousness (or humor) of the text. Once again, I apologize for these, and shall do my best to be more diligent in catching and righting these matters.

Lovingly, not one of you have ever remarked upon this-because you all are so fantastic. Nevertheless, I like to also announce to one of my faithful readers, whose name I'll leave anonymous, that I will do my utmost to make each excerpts a little longer than the snippets I've been providing in the past. I'm thrilled to know that you enjoy them that much.

Once again, I want to thank you all for your commitment to following the posted excerpts of my yet-to-be-published, "Hobo Handbook: Memoirs of a Homeless Poet in New York." With that I shall return back to posting.

-Sincerely yours & always indebted to you all,

Daniel  Canada  a.k.a  Obsidian

Hobo Handbook: Memoirs of a Homeless Poet in New York (Excerpt #18)

 By Daniel Canada c.2010
THE SHELT (Continued)

What’s really the rub is that a "Shelt" doesn’t have to do any of these things at all. If they live in any of the government shelters throughout the city or state, food is served in these institutions three times a day. What is more, these shelters have to follow a regimented dietary code. Most Shelts are recipients of welfare, and welfare provides them upwards of two hundred dollars for food, and two hundred dollars cash for expenses, every month.

Most government funded and run SROs also serves three square meals a day-for free. So, there’s no reason on God’s earth a "Shelt" has to be standing on a goddamned soup line, humming for grub!

I suppose they just want to.

Why? Because they’re a bunch of greedy, gratuitous, grubbing, bastards. That's all.

Sorry folks. I wish I had something better to say.



Now these guys and gals are the real deal!

They’ve gone hardcore, and said so long to the world and all its trappings a long time ago. They don’t rely upon the government or any would-be sympathizers for a goddamned thing. The way of survival on the heartless streets has become the Tao te Ching for them. Subsequently, they, just like the Toa te Ching, have become nameless and formless and can conform to any type of hardship life tosses at them just for shits and giggles.

They’ve mastered the art of building "hotels" out of cardboard boxes, to rest their heads for the night. They’ve become proficient in the art of the glom. Some of them even earn a modest income as canners, people who you see collecting the cans and bottles you happily throw away.

They are totally self-sufficient, and will rise out of the ashes of a nuclear holocaust, to dust themselves off-along with the cockroaches-and get about their business, before they were rudely interrupted by that pesky atomic blast.

YOU have to worry about the confluences and mercurial nature of the stock market, and Wall Street’s quarterly reports. YOU have to suffer the plague of lost sleep, because of the whims of a recalcitrant and overbearing boss. But not the "Homeless Streeter." The "Homeless Streeter" has long since divorced themselves from these concerns.

Sleep tight "Homeless Streeter." Trust in the Lord, but keep your shopping carts tied down.
(To be Continued...)

Hobo Handbook: Memoirs of a Homeless Poet in New York (Excerpt #17)

By Daniel Canada c.2010



It will become clearly evident in how you handle and comport yourself, and what route you take once you find yourself out here. When a hurried, working-class citizen walks down the street and sees a tattered man sleeping on the sidewalk on a cardboard, he might easily thinks that this is just another run-of-the-mill homeless person, like so many others he's seen.

In this chapter, I intend to take away the scales of society's constructs from your eyes and help you to see what is truly there in this image of the person on the sidewalk or the park bench. I intend to take you on an odyssey into the very lives of these otherwise invisible people. This I will also do even further in the upcoming chapter, "Personalities of the Homeless." When I am through, I hope you’ll have a better understanding of the various typesets that make up the composite group identified, collectively, as simply "The homeless."

So, lets us begin to dismantle this perceptual layer, by addressing the topic of the various stratum of homelessness, shall we?


A "Shelt" isn't worth a dime. I was originally inclined to say something much stringer, but curtailed my tongue, for the time being. You think I'm being overly harsh on this type of homeless individual? I can understand your concerned response. But if you allow me, I will outline the reasons for this seemingly shocking initial statement.

The "Shelt" is a person dwelling on the fringes of homelessness. He or she lives in a shelter, or SRO, but still likes to fake it and perpetuate the notion of living under the deprivations of the rest of the domicile. The word “Shelt” is short for shelter, in that it indicates a person still has a roof over their head and, for whatever reason, is not on the streets just yet.

However, you’ll always see the "Shelt" standing on line at every soup kitchen, church, synagogue, and run-of-the-mill government establishment that serves up grub to the homeless and indigent. They’ll be present on every swag line, and wait around in the evenings, in the cold, for hours for the Coalition for the Homeless and Midnight Run vans that comb the streets, giving out food and all kinds of accoutrements to the needy. 

Like a thief pass the time to cop a merchandise, they never miss a trick.
(To be Continued...)


Hobo Handbook: Memoirs of a Homeless Poet in New York (Excerpt #16)

By Daniel Canada c.2010





After you've mastered the art of stashing your belongings in a suitable shopping bag, and learned the wisdom of keeping handy newspapers around to insulate yourself from the cold, you're already transitioned into life on the street and didn't even know it. Now that you've become proficient in stowing away your valuables in a good hideaway, and discovered clever ways to keep tract of the passing of time, as well as how to keep up your personal hygiene, you can almost pass off as regular citizen of the State.

What is more, after you've also garnered a working knowledge of the many operating soup kitchens, around town, that give out decent hot meals, you're practically on your way to becoming a bona fide, well-experienced, homeless bloke.

Admittedly, not much to pat oneself on the shoulder about, but there it is. Notwithstanding all of these undertakings, there's yet more to learn about homelessness.

You will be loath to discover that there are many different levels of homelessness, some of which you can unconsciously slide into, if you are not watchful. One needs to be cognizant of the subtle transformations a person can unwittingly undergo, after spending too much time out on the streets. In the next chapter, I will take great pains to emphasize the various levels of homelessness one can slip into, if one is not vigilant in taking constant stock of themselves.





Maybe this chapter should have come first, but I chose to make it second simply because homelessness is not only just a state of being, it can also devolve into a state of mind. Who and what you are on the streets can depends greatly on how you deal with the issues of the previous chapters. In addition, what you become out here has a lot to do with the sensitive conditions of your initial beginnings, with what you were before you became homeless.
(To be Continued...)


Hobo Handbook: Memoirs of a Homeless Poet in New York (Excerpt #15)


 By Daniel Canada c.2010

The fact of the matter is shopping bags can transport a boat load of essential things. Without failing to enumerating such items, like clothing, food, and the so forth, let’s suffice it to say having a shopping bag around helps alleviate the burden of bearing your belongings with your bare hands.

Can I get an Amen?

Don't everybody respond at the same time.

I used it on several occasions myself, and was not ashamed to be caught sporting my oversized, handy, Duane Reade shopping bag by any passersby who observed me from over to tops of their noses. However, I always made sure that I toted a snapping, brand new one, whenever I had the opportunity, to give the impression I was just another jolly recipient of Duane Read, and a valued customer.

How could anyone tell that I was just a homeless shmuck, carrying all that I owned, save my skin, in as fashionable a manner as I could? It seems that all the homeless souls must've caught on to my ruse, and without haste began to follow in my footsteps. After a while I saw every homeless person and their mother swinging a Duane Reade shopping bag around.

The nerve of them.

Unfortunately, a good number of the homeless forget to exchange their well-worn-out Duane Read shopping bags for new ones, and after much use, went about sporting the most unsightly gear imaginable.

Now, the jig is blown.

On second thought, you might want to switch over to a more trendy D'Agostino shopping bag, just to throw them off. After my form of chicanery went viral among the Skeks, I had no other choice. The benefit of this is that no one will catch on to the fact you're really a down-and-out homeless person, and you can still maintain a modicum of dignity for a while.

So next time you go to Duane Reade, or any super market
in a upper-middle-class neighborhood, to buy a Snickers bar, ask for a shopping bag. It takes a shit load of gumption, but what the hell. You’re going to need it anyway, on the long trip…home.
(To be Continued...)