Homeless

This poem was inspired by the man under the faded blankets in the shopfront of a plush homewares store on Tottenham Court Road, London, before sunrise around Christmas.

Ralph McTell has re-released his classic Streets of London (50th Anniversary), featuring vocals by Annie Lennox, with all proceeds going to Crisis, the UK national charity for single homeless people. The charity offers year-round education, employment, housing and well-being services from centres in London, Newcastle, Oxford, Edinburgh and Merseyside, called Crisis Skylight Centres.

See below the poem for video and link to sales page.

 

I am a thing / not a thing

elevated to the status

of object / product

a float between what

you’ve seen / thought you saw

.           / ignored

 

the error of our ways

is the tragedy of our days

how long until O becomes Q

until the realisation gains a tail

& the question of de-evolution

is reconsidered by apes

on a production line

 

look, squatted in a shopfront

under discoloured blankets

the disgrace of our lives

thrown from the line

I am a thing / not a thing

 


Published in Page Seventeen, Issue 12, November 2015

Published in The Frequency of God, Close-Up Books, December 2017

 

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Lady Sings the Blues

At the jukebox

it’s always the same song,

one for the lonely.

 

The cold change

forced into the slot

to pull the record from

its sleep.

 

The needle jabs at the delicate vinyl

trying to find a vein,

the signal howls pain through crackling speakers.

 

The lady stands back and

lets the jukebox soothe,

and in the empty bar

the lady sings the blues.

 


A version of this poem first published in Vox Poetica, Contributor Series 9, June 2011

Candles

The first candle she lit was for Grandad. She doesn’t remember much about the old man. She remembers his baritone hum and the smell of tobacco. And she remembers being carelessly happy.

The next candle was for Daddy, or more specifically for the kiss he gave her when he said goodbye. She sat by the window for days waiting for him to come home. When she realised he wasn’t coming back she lay on her bed holding the cheek where he’d kissed her.

There was a candle for the boyfriend. The boyfriend she’d loved, not the same boyfriend who’d drunk too much that night, threw her down, and took what can only be given.

A candle for Mum, she’d found her on the couch, the television blaring with some midday pop psychology talk show. She looked peacefully asleep. The empty sheets of zolpidem lay carefully placed on the coffee table, a glass of water lay spilled on the floor.

The last candle she lit was for herself. Or rather for who she’d been.

She stared at the candles, watched the flames flicker, watched the wax liquify and drip.

She closed her eyes as the tears came and sang in a whisper to herself; ‘happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you.’

With all of her remaining strength she took in a deep breath and blew the candles out.

 


Published on Verity La., 7 September, 2011

 

∃volution of a Kind

how do we rule?

.           in words derived from Latin?

whispers from a dead tongue?

 

rolling with the punches

crippled by the lunches

feasts of fat men

suffering in splendour

priding themselves

on their wheels

and dreaming their

machinery dreams

but still

.           just desperate apes

.                       trying to escape

 


A version of this poem was first published in Verity La, 12 June, 2012

Published in The Frequency of God, Close-Up Books, December 2017