Poem ‘Charity Shop’

Litter in Paramaribo.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Charity Shop

That scream connected
with the deepest level of guilt.
I’d been breezing by the charity shop,
litter and leaves scuttling ahead in a chill wind.

I saw him strapped into a chair
on the chewing gum pavement,
pulling taught in a fury
of condensation and sputum.

I stopped a safe distance away,
mingling-in with the bus queue,
all eyes askance and tutting as one,
wondering if (and how) to intervene.

Best not to get involved.
It’s nothing to do with us,
it would cause more trouble
than it was worth.

So I left to get some food,
relieved to find him gone on my return.
A clear misunderstanding:
mum had been in the shop all the time,

had emerged to the relief of all,
smiles and hugs and kisses all round.
But no. There he was ahead of me,
blighting my eye, my mind,

outside the chip shop
surrounded by shell suits and smoke,
the swearing and the sputum –
on the chewing gum pavement.

poem © copyright df barker 2012

*poem first published in 2011 in poetry collection ‘Anonymous Lines’, available at amazon.


29 thoughts on “Poem ‘Charity Shop’

  1. Nice scene and I know how we can feel this way sometimes when confronted with what seems unseemly. Although I generally do okay and have been unseemly myself. Love it bud.


  2. This is quite unsettling David, mostly because I think most of us can go to a moment in our history when we’ve been confronted by a similar situation, and perhaps not reacted the way we felt deep down we should have. I like the bareness you’ve chosen to handle this with…it’s very real, as it should be.


  3. Thank you so much Emma! Yes, this is based on a real happening which I have changed a little, but it is meant to be a social commentary.


  4. We believe ourselves to be better than sometimes we are…and when it reality hits you in the face…you realize one of the truths about yourself that you had always disquised! A wonderful poem my friend, and it will stimulate a lot of self reflection in many!


  5. Haven’t we all had heart-stopping moments such as this near charity shops and soup kitchens and thrift shops and “yard sales/garage sales” as we call them in the U.S. Wonderful lines bringing those experiences back to life. And we never know whether to feel guilty or not afterwards, do we?


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