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‘How many of you live here?’

The man with the clipboard was asking.

Numbers are not my strong point

And I get a bit tongue-tied.

I reply, in a roundabout way:

‘Well, some, here and there;

Not many now;

Fewer than there used to be.’

‘Is that the best you can do?’

He snapped, looking peeved.

I slope off, inadequate,

Fumblingly imprecise.


Turning round, I see my old class teacher,

Who once told me that, despite everything,

He would still enjoy his long retirement.

The search teams must have missed him yesterday;

Foetal in his dusty infant stillness,

Just visible through the smouldering pile.

Adapted to this hell, I keep it short:


‘Subtract one from that,’ I cry,

Trying to be helpful.


◄ Leaving Bangkok

Monarchs ►


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Uilleam Ó Ceallaigh

Tue 2nd May 2023 10:01

Thank you Stephen - I did read this right to the end.

As with most questions regarding the increasing intrusion into our private lives-and on other matters, I say: "follow the money".

William the Bastard's Domesday Book existed for the purpose of lining the pockets of his fellow utter and complete bastards.

They carried out the "Harrying of the North", a process which continues to this very day in both the north and south of the UK, on behalf of the friends of those Utter and Complete Tory Bastards, one of whom now leads what is laughably called the Labour Party. 😡

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Stephen Gospage

Tue 2nd May 2023 07:10

Thank you Keith, John and Reggie's Ghost. I appreciate your kind comments. We all find something of interest in a poem or any piece of writing. The sense of this poem may vary depending on whether the place in question is under occupation. But whether it is or not, the situation is still wretched.

Thanks once again. And thanks to Hélène, Leon and Pete for liking.

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Reggie's Ghost

Mon 1st May 2023 18:59

I'm with John on this being a very good piece on a wretched situation. I wonder whether Keith read right to the end?

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John Botterill

Mon 1st May 2023 13:17

A terrific and yet terrifying poem. The unseen ironies of war, Stephen.
Foetal in his dusty infant stillness
Classic and clever imagery!

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keith jeffries

Sun 30th Apr 2023 17:45

Stephen, thank you. Another poem which deals with the perpetual intrusion into our homes and private lives. I now have a policy which I employ when dealing with these 'inquistadores'. Give them the minimum of information and not a word more. Questions relating to race, ethnicity, religion, tick the box 'other' or 'do not wish to say'. When asked how many live in your house, answer by saying if fluctuates as to the time of day. They are prying into our private lives. They do not serve us but others whose motives are sinister.
An excellent poem,

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