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I used to see them as a boy:

Hanging around on street corners,

Loitering with intent,

Picking off the ice cream vans, one by one.

They pandered to the masses,

Displayed all their wares:

Scalpels, sedatives and inexpensive love.

They were the last resort, the leaky policy,

The get-out-of-jail card, for one more week.

Two for the price of one, sometimes.

‘Lie down here, Sir/Madam;

You won’t feel a thing.’

I thought they were Doctors.


Their minds were in it,

But their hearts were elsewhere:

On tax deductions,

Some serious chrome curves,


A leg-up for their kiddies.


In another life, they could have been artists,

Sprinkling colour on flowered fields,

Or squeezing beauty from slums and bomb craters,

Or penning rhymes that would fall

Headfirst, from the end of verses,

Like raindrops.


(From "Bedside Days", 2019)


◄ Day 644

Birds ►


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Stephen Gospage

Fri 8th Dec 2023 08:48

Thank you John and Hélène for your comments. I must say that I continue to ponder over this poem. I have always liked it, but the meaning, to the extent that there is one, can be elusive. Perhaps it is more a poem of images than of "meaning".

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John Gilbert Ellis

Thu 7th Dec 2023 14:36

a lot to like in this poem Stephen.

Inexpensive love seems a real intrigue.

Rhymes falling off the end of verses, like raindrops is a fantastic image.

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Thu 7th Dec 2023 14:24

This is a poem one could spend hours analyzing in a poetry class. It is intriguing, interesting, uncertain, beautiful, tragic...what the heck does it mean? (apparently even the poet is not sure, lol). It sounds like it rose from the subconscious...that mysterious repository of "memories, dreams, reflections" (Carl Jung memoir title). Thanks for the outline of meaning you gave in your comment, Stephen and for a great read! I will continue to puzzle over this poem...

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Stephen Gospage

Wed 6th Dec 2023 08:18

Thanks, Greg. I was pleased with the poem when I finished it, even though it doesn't completely fit together. There are some references to distrust of experts in it and also to a certain contempt for culture, as well as a simmering nostalgia for a time which probably never existed.

I am grateful that so many of you liked this poem - so thanks to Nigel, Frederick, John, Tom, Hugh, Michael, Stephen, Holden, RG, Purplemoon, Manish, Tim and Jon.

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Greg Freeman

Mon 4th Dec 2023 10:23

I wasn't sure about this one either, Steve. But you're right. The best poems should take you somewhere you hadn't expected to go.

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Stephen Gospage

Mon 4th Dec 2023 08:41

Thanks for your comment, Telboy. Not at all - it's one of those poems which started somewhere and just wandered off. As a boy, I seem to remember lots of men who came to the door, selling all sorts of products and remedies for things. In reality, they were probably collecting insurance money, bringing parcels, or ...who knows? Imagination carries you away sometimes.

And thanks to Nigel, Stephen, Holden, Manish and Tim for liking this one.

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Sun 3rd Dec 2023 21:12

I've no idea what you're talking about Stephen but I like the way you're saying it. Perhaps it's me being a bit thick?

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