Monday, 14 January 2013

The Beggar OR A Thousand Cuts a Day and Counting

It is snowing here in London. In winter especially, but all year round, let us remember the homeless and do what we can for them.

In the current economic climate, more and more people are faced with the prospect of having their home repossessed so…there but for the grace of (God?) go you or I.

Incidentally, this poem was writer in 1990. As I look around at the homeless on the streets of London, it does not seem to me that anywhere near as much has changed as was promised by the politicians in those far-off days...

There are of course 'career' beggars on the streets, but a discerning eye can usually tell who is genuine and who isn't. We all make mistakes, though. Here in London, I well recall a day I gave to a street beggar only to spot him get into an impressive-looking car (parked several streets away) a few hours later and drive off! Another 'beggar' I met in a pub once confided that begging financed his drinking and drug addictions. The motto being, when in doubt...don't. There are other ways to support homeless and other deserving charities online.


‘Hungry – Homeless - No dole’
says a card beside a begging bowl
outside a busy supermarket;
red-rimmed eyes trying to read
the pavement for signs
of homeless-friendly footsteps
worth a pleading glance
for even half a chance of a cuppa
in some cosy café

A few coins here, a few coins there,
the odd note, a few euros,
or cents, whatever; just enough
to keep a scarecrow in bird seed,

Oh, but what the heck…?

Chatty conversation, hacking
at the neck

Copyright R. N. Taber 2000; 2018

[Note: An earlier version of this poem appears under the title 'Ritual Slaughter' in my first collection, Love And Human Remains by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2001]

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