Writing to a Friend (Part 1)

by | Feb 2, 2020

Why would you bother –

with any of it, with any of it at all –

with nowhere to lay your head –

with it spinning like a ball.

You say “I’m doing fine,”

when I know that it’s not true – 

You write to your mother and tell her –

“I always think of you.”


What else to say except “don’t worry –

I’m always getting by.”

When no one gives you space to breathe –

why would they, even try.

From dossing down inside a church –

with a pillow and not much more –

and the aching legs, arthritis knees –

to bruise the polished floor.


Then out you go to the next day – 

and look in vain and roam –

to sign the forms that rank you –

to find a place called Home.

And people ask their questions –

not to you, behind your back –

misguided, misplaced charity –

and all the things they claim you lack.


Woe that your waining contribution –

they ask themselves, “Where is it?” –

as if you don’t question it yourself –

like a country you don’t visit.

Most of the time, you tell yourself –

“I’m fine to get around.”

Other than wanting to just disappear –

no trace, no note, no sound.


Some work was organised, you said –

the hope of cash in hand –

and then the snide resistance –

flowed like blood let through the land.

Authorities, in settings magnified –

the anodyne alarm –

are, like loud hailers at a protest march –

turned up to do you harm.


Your friends, new, old, the ones you left –

resistant to your verse –

the lunatic assemblies –

trying to wash away the curse.

Members of the public –

behind the uniformed pavilion –

give thanks to have no chance –

less than one chance in a million.


They’re having bets these commissars –

these keepers of the flame –

float the odds on reprobation –

while they rally to your shame.

Your head peaks over parapets –

as you wonder what comes next –

and head bowed as expected –

so as not to sound perplexed.


When giving in seems justified –

to prove the doubters right.

“We knew all along,” they say,

that you weren’t up for the fight.

As if they’d ever know –

from their safe position’s seat –

from their leather and their fabrics –

tied in bundles at their feet.


The gates of Eden, locked at night –

keeps you peering in, in hope –

just in case the guards have left a key –

or even just a rope.

And given half a chance, to claim –

what birth has given preference –

who wouldn’t take it, in both hands –

to give us all a reference.


The education, learning –

they used to call it school –

the place to prepare your papers –

to prove you’re not a fool.

You never got to have it –

they never got to hear you –

as conformity is sanctified –

in the direction they would steer you.


© copyright – Stephen Newman 2020