By Kenneth Francis (June 2018)
Scrap Paper Pile With Water Cannon, Michael Karaken, 2007
On flattened cardboard, in pee-drenched lanes,
Huddled by empty bottles and bags, they rest:
Nothing to declare, no job, just junk—
Could’ve been you—thank God you’re blessed!
Look at the old man scruffy but saved
Singing “Jesus’ blood never failed me, yet”
And look at the girl who drinks too much
Slouching to relieve herself, her tattered gear
In barren pram; she never sings or laughs
Her disordered soul is the answer to her
Sleepless nights; just like well-healed selfies
Who rush to Tinder dates; how long will
They love delusions and seek the false
Gods of their carnal mates?
High above, the cold stars just keep on burning
Like old man river, who don’t say nuthin’
While out on horizon a baby cries, as mother
Suckles her newly born; one day he too might sing
About Jesus, all alone while tip-toeing through
Alleyways of dung, needles and paper cups
He might even take meds and shout at old ladies
Who’ll push prams well into their eighties
Or fulfil his life’s days by attending the
Spiritual needs of his body and soul
Or help those mocked as homeless skunks
By handing out soup and rolls in back-street
Kitchens run by Capuchin monks
Or sit alone staring out the window in a
Zimmer-frame zoo beside another old biddy
Who takes night feeds from a plastic tube
Or one who sits in underground tubes;
One who used to work as a magazine model
When they partied hard into the early hours
Now she walks the streets at night without keys
Or cards, through the mist of evening showers
Kenneth Francis is a Contributing Editor at New English Review. For the past 20 years, he has worked as an editor in various publications, as well as a university lecturer in journalism. He also holds an MA in Theology and is the author of The Little Book of God, Mind, Cosmos and Truth (St Pauls Publishing).
More by Kenneth Francis here.
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