Koestler Arts

Nowhere to Go – Koestler award winning poem written by a Clean Sheet Member


Nowhere to Go

It’s not time to find a sleeping place yet.

The food shoplifted from the supermarket is in my bag,

as is the paperback I found.

I’ve washed up in the mall restroom,

enduring disapproving looks of shoppers.

I’m now in the park, on a bench,

my bike and I sit motionless, waiting.

The afternoon turns into evening,

everybody is rushing somewhere:


to visit friends,

a night out.

I am restless

but not in a rush.

I am 17, kicked out or runaway? Either way, it means


When it’s very dark, I can sneak into a warehouse

with a loose backdoor

to sleep on a mouldy carpet.

Or I can walk out of town

to the horse-barn with its hay loft.

But for now

I wait

nowhere to go.


I am 25, sitting in my clapped out van,

parked along the ocean cliffs.

A couple of cans of beans

and a gas stove to cook them on.

Landlord kicked me out of the apartment I shared,

he had every right,

we were irresponsible.

Now I don’t have the deposit for a new place to stay.

I take extra hours at my job,

washing up in the bathroom at work.

My next shift starts in the morning.

I kill time at friends’ houses.

Just dropping by to say ‘hi’.

Their faces look pained when I visit,

they don’t want my troubles to stay

so I don’t bother.

My portable radio runs on batteries,

filling the silence of the van.

It’s cold.

My sleeping bag will be unfurled soon.

But for now

I wait

nowhere to go.


Friday evening.

It’s been a long hard week.

I’m in my new car

in the office parking lot.

My tie is loosened,

suit jacket folded on the passenger seat

I am 45.

Before I put the key in the ignition

I think of where I’m going.

It is many hours’ drive to the house I own,

but there is no one there

except the ghost of my wife,

recently passed away.

An empty space.

My friends are nervous around the ache I try to hide.

Their faces look pained when I visit

they don’t want my troubles to stay

so I don’t bother.

I take the key out of the ignition and search my mind for a destination.


I wait

nowhere to go.


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