Poverty Is

entry picture

You think poor is…

One car not two

semi, not detached

the right school

the wrong brand

the wrong label.


I think poor is…


thick enough to pick at

cardboard soles

in shoes with holes

and stains that don’t

wash clean.



we know poor is…

the curl of a lip

in a hostile world,

the shame

of not fitting in.


She knows poor is…

All a child could want

and money could buy

and yet no time spent

no loving arms to give


He knows poor is…

a screaming belly,

in a never-ending night,

in  a world that doesn’t care.


It is a misconception

to sneer at perception.


Bankrupt are we,

who have no grasp

of relativity.



◄ La dee da dee da

Something Old, Something New ►


Profile image

chris yates

Sun 13th Feb 2011 10:45

Hi Isobel great sentiments in this poem and love the photo I have one like that !!xx

Profile image

jane wilcock

Sat 12th Feb 2011 22:39

Hi Isobel, Just found this and thinks its good fun. Poverty of many sorts is always with us but some relative poverty can be nauseating!! Hoping you are well and inspired, much love, Jane

Profile image


Thu 3rd Feb 2011 23:14

You puzzled me for a minute there Winston - I imagined you icking up on some poor child's shirt ;))
Tidelines can be on baths but in my poem I was referring to necks. Scum and dirt marks so thick they could be picked at.

Glad you liked it John/Win - I just read it at Butterflies in Bolton. It seemed to go down well enough - it's easy enough for a non poet audience to understand.

And thank you for your lovely comment Cynthia. Sorry to hear you haven't been well - am hoping you are over it now and fighting fit! x

Profile image

John Aikman

Thu 3rd Feb 2011 22:15

'I think poor is…
thick enough to pick at'

Lovely (sorry Dave) triplet...or whatever it is technically?...'thick enough to pick at'...what a lovely tripping line 'thick enough to pick at'...I want to keep saying it.

'thick enough to pick at'

Neat, neat, neat.



Profile image

winston plowes

Thu 3rd Feb 2011 21:55

missed this, great got me thinking. I was working with some children in a school recently (one day every week) One had a really dirty shirt. I icked up on it . maybe singled them out. This child has been in a dirty shirt every week for 4 weeks now, It was a wrong judgement. Also he is one of the best in the group at what we are doing. A couple of bits -'Tide-lines thick enough to pick at. Whats this, Is it tide-marks as in a bath? Loved Screaming belly and loving arms. Win x

Profile image

Cynthia Buell Thomas

Thu 3rd Feb 2011 10:39

This is outstanding in its understanding, a quality I much admire in your work and in your very self. I was in hospital last week and was still recuperating for a few days; so I missed this first time round. Great piece.

Profile image

Marianne Louise Daniels

Tue 1st Feb 2011 13:54

I am repeating what has already been said, again, incredibly thought provoking and moving. Good stuff.

Profile image

Laura Taylor

Tue 1st Feb 2011 13:47

Gawd, this rings horrible bells for me...those tidelines...one bath a bloody week!

Really like this Isobel - although it took me back to a place I don't really like to be in.

Profile image


Mon 31st Jan 2011 13:53

Naaa Steve - I wasn't worried about my last poem being flawed - I just knew that it wasn't technically good. I've stopped bothering too much about things like that. I don't post often - if I throw one out now and then that is just a mood reflection, I don't feel too guilty. I probably criticised it cos I didn't want people thinking I thought it was anything special - unlike my usual stuff, which is absolutely brilliant ;)

I am sure that life can be just as grim down Serrrf, given the right/wrong circumstances. Granted there would have been less coal dust back in those days!

Thanks for your comment also Andy - I think it is rare for anyone to have a perfect childhood. There is always something that bothers us as children - things that are sometimes beyond an adult's control.

I think I've thanked most others on their profiles. I do appreciate your comments. xx

Profile image

Andy N

Mon 31st Jan 2011 08:17

excellent, Isobel.. i couldn't fault this atall - love it in particular the first two stanzas xx

Profile image


Sun 30th Jan 2011 17:04

Thanks for your considered comments Ray.

I definitely meant 'right school'. Verse 1 and 2 are exploring the shame of difference and social exclusion - something we feel more acutely as children. Two different scenarios, one with heaps more money. But the first child may feel just as ahamed as the second child because they have been placed in a school where they cannot possibly keep up with their peers. 'The right school' is therefore used ironically.

Squalor is quite liveable with, if all your peers also live in it. Being different is something most children find very hard - whatever the reason.

I don't like your version of the end so I will stick with my own. I appreciate that it isn't the way we would naturally speak though.

Profile image

Ray Miller

Sun 30th Jan 2011 16:40

Actually, I think Poor Is would be a better title, more grounded somehow.Can't work out why you've got "the right school" rather than wrong.2nd verse is my favourite by far. Didn't like the "bankrupt are we" construction. Maybe "we face bankruptcy/ we with no grasp/ of relativity".

Profile image

Cate Greenlees

Sun 30th Jan 2011 11:51

A very thoughtful piece Isobel. Like you say everythings relative, and our poverty would be another countries riches.
Cate xx

stella jones

Sat 29th Jan 2011 21:37

well written Isobel, from persoanl thoughts of tide-lines (they never quite went did they?) to those wider issues. nice work lady.

Profile image


Sat 29th Jan 2011 17:45

My favourite lines are:

'She knows poor is…
All a child could want
and money could buy
and yet no time spent
no loving arms to give'

'It is a misconception
to sneer at perception.'

A lot of truth in this, Isobel.

Profile image

Dave Bradley

Sat 29th Jan 2011 16:15

A serious poem, Iz, which first asks the reader to tune in then demands a thoughtful response. Good one.

Profile image


Sat 29th Jan 2011 13:25

A bit of a fudge for the chidren comp since it's one I cooked earlier. This was inspired by a poem Cynthia Buell-Thomas wrote months ago on the theme of poverty - if fact I've given mine the same title!

If you wish to post a comment you must login.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

Find out more Hide this message