Ottawa's Festival of Ideas Since 1997

Homelessness is like a human zoo

Homelessness is like a human zoo with thousands walking by, always gawking at you, watching you while you sleep, your life on public display.
Like a tabloid celebrity, your life never escapes public scrutiny and judgement.

The intimate details of your existence laid bare before everyone, the disapproving glances the comment section of the online click bait article that is the train wreck that has become of your life.

What you eat, who you talk to, what you're saying, what you're doing, who you're doing, where you hang out, how you treat your dog.

A casual voyeuristic obsession like reading the headlines on the covers of trashy magazines at the grocery store check out line.

Why doesn't he have a place? Why don't you get a job? Have you tried the shelter?

Winter is coming, what will you do? Why don't you stay with them?
Are you really not on drugs?
Are you really homeless? Have you tried a social worker?

No escape from their prying eyes and invasive questions.

If I had a dollar for every time someone asked how old my dog is, I wouldn't have to beg for change.

No reprieve, no right to my own space, no right to my own body.

No right to my own boundaries.
No right to show my feelings no right to show distress.


These streets are my home.

This is where I sleep!

This is where I eat
This is where I cry
This is where I stay warm and dry
And even friends die this is where I weep.

Who the fuck are you to tell me how to be, I barely bother anyone,

I've got more people harassing me.

Drunks waking me up for half a cigarette and five cents, "sorry it's all I got."


I don't want to seem ungrateful but is it really worth disrupting my sleep

so you can feel like you've done a good deed.

And sleep at night, in the comfort of your own home.

Now that you've paid a tithe to wash away your complicity in a world t

hat makes human beings sleep outside on concrete slabs.
Get the fuck out of my house! Don't fucking touch me!

And because I spend all my time outside, in the public eye,

These are the things that I hold deep inside

A call to the cops is all I fucking need
These wounds cut deep but seldom bleed
There's no safety here when it's a crime just to be,

There's no privacy in the middle of the street,

There's no sanity when I can't sleep in peace.