Humber Help

tackling homelessness & poverty in the Humber region

Poem: Rough.

Rough

“Everyone knows me here,” he chatted, Newcastle thick in his accent though he’d left it ten years past.
He reached to kiss the hand of the lass who’d come to ask what they needed for the immediate.
She’d been bitten by the same systems that kept them out here.
Couldn’t bring much other than some coffee and some company.

“You’re so good, coming by here each day…
Look, long-tails” he pointed to the rat not far away, ‘they’re getting brave’.
She could see his Celtic hand curled uneven like the stray hair from under his beanie,
And not for the first time she wondered how his smile could stay that warm
When all his seams ran so ragged they had torn.

Her walking stick ticked by her heels as she followed the streets where he sleeps home.
He’d weathered this city and its criticisms,
Seen kids more than half his age struggle with rent to pay,
Made shelters of empty doorways, then always morning came and he was turned away.
Passing empty houses, more than she could count, swearing out loud, feeling fettered by everything
She remembered what he’d said:
“It’s not over yet.”

© 2016 Alyx Tamminen

Alyx Tamminen is a spoken word crossover performance poet, her verse characterised by its edgy and street tone.

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Poem: Feet.

Feet

Your feet, they pass;
some slow, most fast,
in rain, they splash,
in sun, they dash.

I’m here, a face;
this doorway, a space,
a residence, my place.
Your legs, blurred haste.

You have the world
at your feet.
But me,
I’m beneath.

© 2016 Louise Beech.

Author of How to be Brave (2015) The Mountain in my Shoe (2016) and Maria in the Moon (2017).

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Poem: To Let.

To Let

I’ve never really had a home
just a series of rooms I’ve stayed in,
rooms in which thoughts have played in
rooms in which dreams have decayed in

rooms where the hours have passed
rooms where the spells have been cast
rooms where I’ve lost my mind
white rooms
black rooms
rooms where I’ve been left behind

rooms where I’ve toasted the passing of the day
rooms where my empty head can lay
rooms in which I’ve made love
green rooms
blue rooms
rooms in which bags are shoved

rooms with locked doors
rooms with dirty floors
rooms where spirits have been crushed
red rooms
dead rooms
rooms where limits have been pushed

rooms where there’s something missing
rooms where there’s no pot to piss in
rooms where I’ve shivered in the cold
light rooms
dark rooms
rooms in which my story will be told.

We are as transitory as furniture –
gathering dust
we just
occupy a space
until we are replaced
by something else;
thrown onto the street like
a carpet
a table
a chair
or a broken shelf.

© 2008 Joe Hakim

Joe Hakim writes stuff, says stuff, knows nowt… author of ‘No Light Might Escape’, a gritty monologue that charts the turbulence of not having a home.

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Poem: What Love Looks Like on Wind Blown Streets

What love looks like on wind-blown streets

I saw a man,
made out of cheap cuts
of meat from the market,
crying into the paper cup
in his knuckle-heavy hand,
saving salted tears
for his dry lips.

He stroked his dog,
black and gold Alsatian,
who had seen everything
through David Bowie eyes,
biting sore paws,
keeping lookout
for you to return.

He danced a tango,
meant for you but without you.
Army boots tap
irregular pulses on pavement .
That same tick-tock
as the grandfather clock
in your house.

He twisted into oak tree shapes,
for the crowd
who watched from the bus stand.
His eyes, like those of the dog,
filtering faces to find yours.
Hands held out for small change
to soften the hurt.

And I wonder,
where have you made your home?
Why have you left him here,
crying into the paper cup
in his knuckle heavy hand,
saving salted lips
for sweet reunion with yours
on these wind-blown streets?

© 2016 Matt Nicholson

Matt Nicholson: writer, poet, on any given night to be found in venues across the North sharing his pride for his hometown of Hull. Debut collection ‘There and Back To See How Far It Is’ available through King’s England Press.

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