Read Poem: London Laid Bear, by Colin Ward

Face whipped by an ice
wall of wind,
squinting at the chill,
shoulders shrugged
on shrivelled spine,
shrunk against the relentless
unforgiving shadow above.

Brick archway offered
temporary respite from attack.
A rank
putrid assault
of urine stank with rotting
fatigue of flesh,
under a rumble
d, hurried world,
anxiously bridging
one worthy shelter to another,
business to leisure and back,
troubled only by mildest burdens
Shelter under shelter,
a bright blue tent sat hardy
on the soaking concrete,
skin flapping at autumnal
slaps, as the fellow out front,
clasped knees in dejected
patchwork of clothes,
d like a rowboat
at war with Poseidon :
His eyes
bore the colour
of the sky,
which sang verse of his soul
to the jingle jangle chorus
of a tin pot at his toes,
bereft of the shrapnel
of kindness.

I averted my eyes,
embarrassed for not staying
long enough to learn
his name
or his song,
and sing a line or two
for his freedom.

Across the arch,
lying in sodden detritus,
discarded, abandoned
crippled by neglect,
left by too many passers-by,
a large soft toy bear
grasped my sympathy
as my heart clasped my throat
and the moment dragged
at memories of love lost
whose lessons taught tears
for the lonely soft souls.

Tempted to stage a rescue,
had I not been conscious
of my living witness,
I walked on, guilt rattling
my conscience.
I stepped back out
into freezing air,
punishment for leaving
the perished furry soul to wait
their silenced death.

Why did my heart leap
for the pitiful inanimate toy
but not for the living spirit
adorned on the edge of time,
clocking out each day, waiting
just for his chime
with the rest of the world?

Why did my strings
play so out of tune
for that which never bore life,
lacked knowledge
of its own hardship,
understood no brutality,

or truly had to endure
the callous cruelty of cold
and sometimes wonder
if one final sleep
will be enough,

and yet so slack
for my fellow man?

How can I feel so much
for that which may be replaced
but shed so few tears for a man whose past
I cannot tell,
but whose future

I can almost guess?

Where is my debt to him,
if I feel so deeply owed
the ear of democracy
listen to me?

Where is my debt to children
whose arms do not wrap
a cuddly figure
in their own bed,
safe in warm comfort,
belly filled and eyes fresh
with smiles instead of tears
at parents who weep
for fears and failure
they cannot escape?

Where is my debt,
if not seated in my heart
to beat for the greater good
of unity which invites all
to its embrace?

And though I know loneliness
too well to forget
its vengeance,
I was guilty of such a crime,
in a world consumed
by greed for privilege,
and too high a price
for warmth.

I stood in that archway,
where London laid bear
the waste of man,
and walked on
as if I didn’t care.
I found only shame.


Author: poetryfest

Submit your Poetry to the Festival. Three Options: 1) To post. 2) To have performed by an actor 3) To be made into a film.

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