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 Β© copyright df barker 2012

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



  1. Pete Armetta · April 11, 2012

    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. Ina · April 11, 2012

    Hi David
    this is very moving and heartbreaking.

    I looked up the book Anonymous Lines on Amazon, http://www.amazon.co.uk/Anonymous-Lines-ebook/dp/B005SGWTOG/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1334137902&sr=1-1

    is it available on paper as well?


  3. Ina · April 11, 2012

    I mean in print πŸ™‚


  4. jane tims · April 11, 2012

    Hi. I like the last line. A difficult subject, well done. jane


  5. dfb · April 11, 2012

    Thank you very much Pete! πŸ™‚


  6. dfb · April 11, 2012

    Hi Ina, thank you very much! The paperback is available on amazon.com (USA) – not on the UK site.


  7. dfb · April 11, 2012

    Jane, thank you very much!


  8. journeyintopoetry · April 11, 2012

    Wow David

    This is just terrific. What an image you have painted here with your words – I could feel the discomfort while I was reading it. Just fabulous!



  9. dfb · April 11, 2012

    Thank you very much Christine!


  10. Victoria C. Slotto · April 11, 2012

    I thought I’d read this before and then saw I had….very powerful, disturbing really.


  11. claudia · April 11, 2012

    i love how you capture the scene david…could see it very clearly and not only see but feel the emotions as well


  12. Francina · April 11, 2012

    wow, indeed, David.


  13. Russell Smith · April 11, 2012

    Wonderful poem!


  14. Emma · April 11, 2012

    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.


  15. Three Well Beings · April 12, 2012

    Discomfort for certain! Provoking and sharply detailed. I needed a couple of readings to let it soak in…very strong! Debra


  16. dfb · April 12, 2012

    Thank you very much for reading it again, Victoria! πŸ™‚


  17. dfb · April 12, 2012

    Thank you very much Claudia!


  18. dfb · April 12, 2012

    Thank you very much Francina!


  19. dfb · April 12, 2012

    Russell, thank you very much!


  20. dfb · April 12, 2012

    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.


  21. dfb · April 12, 2012

    Debra, I thank you once again!


  22. 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!


  23. Betty Hayes Albright · April 13, 2012

    Both heartfelt and heartbreaking poem, David. Wonderful writing, once again!


  24. dfb · April 13, 2012

    Thank you very much Wendell!


  25. dfb · April 13, 2012

    Betty, once again, thank you very much!


  26. granbee · April 13, 2012

    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?


  27. dfb · April 14, 2012

    Thank you very much!


  28. bardessdmdenton · April 18, 2012

    We cannot escape what we are meant to see…even as we think we are helpless to help…


  29. dfb · April 19, 2012

    I am very grateful to you!!! πŸ™‚


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.