‘Doorways’: A poem by Terry Buchanan

Editor’s note – this poem has been published by homeless charities in the USA and Canada, and is reproduced here by kind permission of Terry, who is based in Chippenham. Terry told us:

“It is not something I have personally experienced but when I worked in London, each morning I would see the doorstep sleepers. Many of them were young people and some were elderly. But, they were all labelled as down and out when no one knew what personal circumstances drove them onto the streets. The ones that really got to me were the elderly ladies, if I saw one I would have to cross the street to give them breakfast money”

The Dream Box - Terry Buchanan 2011

                                                                     DOORWAYS

                                                    The chill winter wind scours the

                                                 shop door ice-stoned steel hard bed,

                                                   seeking night-time retail sleepers

                                                  who on this day have not been fed.

                                                   The counter tills are keen to ring

                                                   the wealthy shoppers’ debit cost,

                                                  but the night-time open doorways

                                                   are queues for those of profit lost.

                                                                               .

                                                   Huddled in refuse cardboard box,

                                                 newspaper print rubbed linen sheet;

                                                they are homeless un-wanted ghosts

                                              condemned to haunt the ghostly street.

                                           In daylight hours pavement public weave,

                                                       avoiding hungry beggar tug

                                                      at cashmere silk lined sleeve

                                                                              .

                                                    Step men are easily recognised

                                                       as rough coated hollow eyed,

                                                    proffing the ‘homeless’ magazine

                                                      to seek a gentle touch of pride.

                                                 They drink from cans of bitter beer

                                                to sweeten thoughts of unknown fear.

                                           As night cape cloaks the streets once more,

                                              they rush back home to ’welcome’ mat

                                                  to keyless door and stone bed flat

                                                                               .

                                              Cold bound in sickened weakest frame;

                                                     they exist though no man can

                                                  hear their given Christian  name.

                                                       Born as every human must

                                                 vagrant shadows longing for a crust.

                                                  Dreaming of warm woollen blanket

                                                    on a full-sprung mattressed bed.

                                                 Greatest prayer their cold lips make,

                                                     to be discovered cold, and dead.

                                                                                 .

                                                                 © Terry Buchanan

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