Everyone’s accountable. Everyone accounted, invoiced. Keep the receipt for records. No ID, no entry. No licence, uh oh. Gen Y and Z trainees all doled up with nowhere to go, no shows for the ATO. Take a number and wait for your soup kitchen handout. No work, no home, no work without an address, no vote, no identity.

This is free.

Swipe your smart card. Tick the box and PLEASE PRINT YOUR NAME on the dotted line. What’s your sign? Make your mark on the world, while reducing your footprint — beggars mustn’t be choosers, but should go green. Exchange your campfire for trinkets and blankets. Council fines in place. No cause for complaint and no one speaks for me. File that in your pipe and smoke it — outside mind. This air is clean.

It can’t be credited, the refuse refused, human beings surplus to need, the abandoned needy. It stumbles on, the ancient and noble scam — feudal lords manipulating illiterate peasants who tilled the soil in exchange for their first-born. Lords now gorge at the business buffet, stuffing themselves, helped on by accountants with their hands in the till. The workers, scorned, released from servitude, free-fall like stock onto asphalt where paddocks once were. Ex-workers go hungry, building cardboard shelters where trees grew. New peasants sleep in rat-infested drains where rivers once flowed golden in the sun. Now go add up your sum.

So much for progress. Tabloids have us believe “Working Families” fend off berserk gangs of tweens roaming for good times like Vikings once did. I don’t kid. Rape and pillage. No shelter in your corner of the global village. Can’t look ’em in the eye, can’t run, nowhere to hide, no one on your side. Knife crime on the rise, yet we all abide. You hear their cries: here we are now, try ’n’ detain us.

Meanwhile it’s business as usual with raids on international corporations. The staff of life, wasted human resources are turned out onto street corners undefended. Ready to demonstrate the perils of market deregulation and subprime borrowing. See the figures get up, get down, get up, get down. Until chk, chk, chk boom. Can you hear the homeless sing, banking on being the next big TV thing?

Above cobbled lanes, in gentrified dockland warehouses, the mood lighting penthouse candles gutter and go out. It’s dark out at night. Can I bum a light?

In the capital, politicians play at war in other lands: the key to excess. Empire building, they send the young where the old fear to tread, to ride roughshod over the dying poor. Our lords use war to fuel their trade, which greases the cogs of the government machine. Another day another dollar, another day another death, another day another deficit. It’s something to invest in, while the battle is won.

Skirting desolate CBD gardens toothless hags with trolleys wander, cackling and prophesying for a dollar to the next big-time player he’ll be king — but his son will not. Ancient mothers step carefully over the discarded needles of the errant sons of the night. Needles stabbing up into the sky like the tiny spires of plastic cathedrals — there’s nothing like a hit to soothe the soul preying for answers, floating among the lights of the ’scrapers far above the dirt and disease of the back alleys. So tweet me.

These are the headlines frightening huddled masses on mortgage belt fringes. These are the living and the dying undetected by the military industrial complex. These are the streets.

Oh, look on these, workers and ye mighty, and despair.

Note: Although this was written in 2010 in response to specific events and from within an Australian context, and was first published in 2011 in 21D Magazine, Melbourne, I think much of this has held its relevance and so I republish it here in 2018.

Writer of short fiction. Editor, Copywriter, Longsword wielder. Responsible for reviews etc at writingbec.com. Designer at www.redbubble.com/people/becadroit

Writer of short fiction. Editor, Copywriter, Longsword wielder. Responsible for reviews etc at writingbec.com. Designer at www.redbubble.com/people/becadroit