Posts Tagged ‘poverty’


Despite mums best efforts money became increasingly tight and we started to get behind with the bills. I think we kept on top of the rent but I know for certain that we got behind with the gas and electric because we had it cut off. Two men came round to do the job, one in an overcoat and bowler hat who looked the stereotypical enforcement officer of the time, the other stayed outside keeping watch. Everybody on the street much have known what was happening. No gas and electric meant no fire, no TV, no lights, no cooking. Everything we take for granted now and to a certain extent did then was gone in seconds and would not be restored until the arrears had been paid. We huddled round a coal fire watching it go from a blaze to a pile of smouldering embers. The TV was replaced by a battery powered portable radio. Lighting was done by paraffin lamps carefully placed around the house to ensure they could not be knocked over potentially causing a fire. My mum cooked on the coal fire pans of vegetables and potatoes and I can only assume we had some meat. I always marvelled at how my mum could prepare and cook a meal to perfection with everything coming together at once. It was even more remarkable how she did it during this period swapping pans of food on the coal fire but still making a lovely meal for us all. I can’t remember how long it was before we had the gas and electric restored but I do remember one lad from school asking if he could come to my house and me having to say no. I instinctively said no and instinctively felt shameful for saying no and for not being able to say why I said no. I don’t think I fully understood why I was saying no or why I felt ashamed at the time but I knew deep down it was the only thing to say. We kept living in the house but I can imagine that was only just. Things were so tight during those times and no one helped us.


my home is a shipping container
metal, long, dark
i’m told it’s temporary
however long temporary is
small and cramped
it has a door and
window at one end
too hot in summer
too cold in winter
people fight outside
i stay in and
read a book,
play board games,
listen to the radio
on the TV everyone
has cars, houses
X-boxes, computers and TV’s
somewhere to live
somewhere to call home
i would be happy
with a bed to myself
in a room of my own
i don’t want much
but the little i
want seems far away
at least right now


we’ve paid our money

watched the show

listened to the performers

enjoyed ourselves

we drink free wine

eat too much free pizza

talked about situations

we’ve never faced

and as i leave he lays there

partially hidden in the opening in the wall

he raises his arm

is he trying to catch my attention?

is it a last act of defiance to a

world that has been cruel o him?

his home a concrete bunker

is this the last place he will

breathe the fresh crisp air of a summers evening?

all i can do is turn away from him

walk past this bundle of flesh and bones

and immediately reflect on

what i could have done

what i should have done

to give him a glimmer of hope

that in this unforgiving world he inhibits

there is still some humanity

 

as i drive home away from him

i depress the accelerator pedal

to get away from him

to get away from the situation

get away from my feelings of guilt

of what i could have done

of what i should have done


This is a poem I wrote after reading about a man who had been made redundant and has only a tin of spaghetti to eat every day.

a tin sits on a table

alone

surrounded by nothing

a dull cylinder of aluminium

encased in a dull white cover

two ends poking out

trying to escape

but going nowhere

he stares at the tin

and the image burns in his eye

embedded in his memory

of what may be his last meal

a tin of brand less, tasteless spaghetti

given to him by a stranger

seeing his look of desperate hunger

the anguish of an empty stomach

picking up the tin-opener

tainted with the remains of

yesterday’s dull white label

he struggles to connect the

opener to the tin

weak with hunger

it clicks loudly and with a

clunk begins to remove the

lid, every turn a noisy struggle

and then it is off

edges jagged waiting to tear

apart unsuspecting flesh on

its sharp, uneven teeth

as the contents are revealed

grey processed worms concealed

in bright manmade orange fluid

he swallows the feeling of

revulsion, the tinge of nausea

because today this is

his one and only meal

the one bit of food he will

consume to keep him going until

tomorrow

when the process begins again……………………