Rough Sleeper

The city numbs our sense of right and wrong.

Hurrying past, there is a temptation

To disregard his presence in our midst.

And, let’s face it, shocked at the exposure,

Most of us, averting eyes, do just that.

What would we see there, if we stopped to look

Beyond the torn sleeping bag, with a head

Propped up on folded rugs, squeezed yet still damp?

Would we see a life, a past, relations,

Ties which imperceptibly unravelled?

Would we see him then, dancing at the fair,

A younger man, cadging one extra sweet?

Or now, at cul-de-sac? His cry for help

Unheard in the noisy urban silence.

◄ Przewodow

The Lowest of the Low ►


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Stephen Gospage

Tue 22nd Nov 2022 08:11

Thank you, John. Yes, the sheer number of people sleeping on cold streets is shocking and more must be done.

Graham - You raise an important point. I respect your experience and the work that you do and I am not naive enough to think that all the people on the streets are wonderful human beings. There is no doubt that a certain number, though surely not the vast majority, of rough sleepers (helped by such support from you and other fine people like Rose's Gran and Granddad) feel unable or unwilling to be 'reintegrated' into society. However, many such people could have severe physcological and other problems which may make 'normal' society seem a very forbidding place. I believe that, deep down, very few people would prefer this life, which is degradingly awful and often violent, to living in a flat or a house. It seems to me that we need to give everyone the opportunity to start again. But thanks for raising this point, Graham. It shows that the issue is complicated and that there are no simple answers.

Thanks for your reaction, Rose. Your grandparents do marvellous work.

And thanks to John C for the like.

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John Botterill

Tue 22nd Nov 2022 06:58

A brilliant, imaginative, perceptive poem, Stephen. And it is true. We do ignore the suffering in our midst! 💪

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Rose Casserley

Mon 21st Nov 2022 18:43

AND! if I may add! judging these people just by looking at them is a MASSIVE NO! NO! in my books

as in-ewww look at that pissed up scruffy b******d!

( me ) oh yes you mean the guy who has ended up having to drink nine litres of cider a day just to keep all the horrific things he's seen out of his memory while serving his country ( that has s**t on him ) in Afghanistan , yes, I CAN see him-can you!?


Rose 💋

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Graham Sherwood

Mon 21st Nov 2022 17:12

I have had some hands-on experience with homeless/rough sleepers via the winter night shelter for a few years here.
It never ceased to amaze me how resolute in sticking to their (chosen) lifestyle some of them were. Most were happy with the ability to get hot food and a shower/toilet etc before almost gladly going out into the new morning following a safe night and a decent breakfast. Few wanted to get back into society as such. A very chastening experience for me.

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Stephen Gospage

Mon 21st Nov 2022 16:25

Thank you for your most interesting and heartening comments, Keith, Rose, Helène and Uilleam. Whenever I see someone on the street with their head sticking out of a sleeping bag, I try to remember that this is a real person with their own life and memories.

Rose - your Gran and Granddad are doing a great job and your poem did justice to them. Keith - I understand that there are many ex-servicemen out there, something which should make us ashamed. Uilleam - I agree that things are unlikely to get better, sadly. Compassion is a fine quality, Helène. Thank you.

And thanks to Steve, Stephen, Rudyard, K Lynn and Bethany for supporting this poem.

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Uilleam Ó Ceallaigh

Sun 20th Nov 2022 23:07

It's not going to get any better; public social services and mental health services are being deliberately destroyed so as to enrich private "entrepreneurs", while charities pick up the pieces-if theyre lucky.

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Sun 20th Nov 2022 17:12

Thank you Stephen & commentators Keith & Rose. A wake up call to heighten my compassion....

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Rose Casserley

Sun 20th Nov 2022 16:00

The homeless centre my Gran and Granddad do voluntary work for takes VERY good care of these guys and has other volunteers patrolling the streets at night making sure these people are managing as best they can and anything ( food and hot drinks ) that is needed is seen to

in severe weather these folk are brought inside. My Gran and Granddad take all the unused food products from the centre and pass it around the local community so that not a scrap of it gets wasted-I made a little poem about this called-

' Hurrah for the bread salvagers' with a picture of Gran almost suffocating under a load of bread and barmcakes filled bin bags 😅 the back of the van was full to the roof!

👍 on this poem Stephen.

yes Stephen you put a like on my poem now I recall thank you!

Rose 💋

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keith jeffries

Sun 20th Nov 2022 09:24

This poem speaks of a regular occurrence as we often encounter such a situation. Do we cross over onto the other side and swiftly pass by or do we offer a coin or two in the hope of alleviating the person's predicament? I am reminded of the story of the Good Samaritan when I see such a scene. I often stop to think how did this person find him or herself in this situation? What of their past life? Many we see are ex servicemen, mentally scarred by conflict and suffering with PTSD. Their very presence calls for action, both on our personal part and of society. This should not happen in today's world. There is no excuse.
Thank you Stephen for a poem which so clearly highlights a very human plight.

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