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Poem about the Homeless

Updated on November 12, 2012

I can still remember the day I wrote this poem, even though it was several years ago now. I had walked into the city centre, as I had done so many times before. A pedestrian bridge rises above a busy road - for most of the time I have been living here the bridge has been regularly occupied by a homeless person. These days, a friendly guy who spends his time drawing abstract patterns for donations sits in a corner on the bridge; back in the days of this poem it was someone else. Just a man, who didn't draw and didn't speak. One of Margaret Thatcher's 'care in the community' victims.

The man who didn't draw and didn't speak was there nearly every time I walked into the city. Time after time after time..... then one day came the space. The space which was his; the space where he always sat was empty. There was nothing there. I found out later that he had died. Quietly. As far as I know there was nothing suspicious. Then a bunch of flowers appeared, together with a note. But it was the glaring space that was the most noticeable thing of all...

This poem strives to acknowledge the very real truth that, whilst all of us see homeless people on the streets where we live, we often pass by with little thought. We become used to their presence, but still we do not know or understand their story. Perhaps we don't even acknowledge their vulnerability. But there are homeless people everywhere, desperate; lost; cut off from society. For some people, life is about surviving, every day and in all weathers. All too often, we become used to their presence and yet do not truly notice them until they disappear:

Homeless person, Covent Garden, London
Homeless person, Covent Garden, London | Source
Homelessness - Tottenham High Road, Haringey, London UK
Homelessness - Tottenham High Road, Haringey, London UK | Source
Homeless in New York
Homeless in New York | Source


He slept between the rubbish,

They forgot he had a name.

Beaten skin glared out through rags,

They thought it was a game.

They shut their souls to squalor,

He presumed they must be blind.

They thought he was immortal -

They misread all the signs.

His heart was weary beating

But he slept and still woke up.

He lived his life for coffee

In polystyrene cups,

A knife of ice cut through him

For the sky was not his friend.

They moaned about the weather

Then went home at the end.

He wondered what had happened,

Why salvation never came.

He buried deep his anger -

There seemed no point in blame,

Then one day he was missing

But they only saw the space -

Not the silent, screaming claws

Of tragic, human waste.


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    • jandee profile image

      jandee 3 years ago from Liverpool.U.K

      Hello Polly,

      Many years since she opened the doors and filled our streets with the vulnerable. She stripped them of pride and stole their benefits.

      You captured the hopelessness of their situation, a lovely poem,

      best from jandee.

    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 3 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hi, PollyC

      I mean the words for they ARE the pure truth. Keep up the great work and keep in touch with me.

    • Polly C profile image

      Polly C 3 years ago from UK

      @Doris Dancy - Thank you for the lovely compliments you have given me, I'm really pleased you found me during your exploring!

    • Doris Dancy profile image

      Doris H. Dancy 3 years ago from Yorktown, Virginia


      Tonight my hub exploring has paid off big. I found you…an excellent writer with a beautiful heart. Your poem is touching, heartfelt, and so very true. Hopefully, it will have the type of impact that brings us all to some action whether its finding clothes in our closets to donate, working a few hours at a food bank or something that can help. Thank you for sharing your powerful message.

    • Polly C profile image

      Polly C 3 years ago from UK

      @kenneth avery - thank you so much for your wonderful comments :)

    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 3 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Dear Polly,

      Wow, how touching. And realistic. Voted up and away. You did a great job of capturing how it must feel to be homeless. I admire your talent.

      I cordially-invite you to visit my place and read a couple of my hubs and then be one of my followers.

      I would be honored if you would do that for me.


      Kenneth Avery/ from northwest


    • Polly C profile image

      Polly C 4 years ago from UK

      Hi Anna, thank you so much for your compliments. It really is a travesty, so many real people that we just don't notice. And everyone has their story - people don't just end up on the street out of the blue. Yet, mostly we don't look behind what we see. Thank you for stopping by :)

    • Anna Haven profile image

      Anna Haven 4 years ago from Scotland

      Very moving and poignant work.

      It is a travesty that a whole ocean of people can disappear when they are under our eyes every day.

      You done an excellent job here.


    • profile image

      ilovesalmankhan 5 years ago

      very nyc but not wht i was looking for srry xxxx

    • Polly C profile image

      Polly C 5 years ago from UK

      Thank you, graceey44 :)

    • profile image

      graceey44 5 years ago

      that is a lovely poem very well written

    • profile image

      marsha 5 years ago

    • Polly C profile image

      Polly C 5 years ago from UK

      Leigh ann, thank you for your lovely comment. I totally agree, caring is the most important thing. Thanks for reading :)

    • leigh anns page profile image

      leigh anns page 5 years ago from New Jersey

      Beautiful Polly. This definitely pulled at my heart strings. There needs to be more caring and reaching out.

    • Polly C profile image

      Polly C 6 years ago from UK

      Thank you, justateacher - yes, too many people are forgotten by society, even though they are often right under our noses. I appreciate your comments, thanks for stopping by :)

    • justateacher profile image

      LaDena Campbell 6 years ago from Somewhere Over The Rainbow - Near Oz...

      Awesome writing...makes you really think about those people that society often forget...

    • Polly C profile image

      Polly C 6 years ago from UK

      Hi Hello, hello, thank you for your lovely comments, it's always nice to hear from you. Indeed, there are many people living lives one can hardly imagine, often because they have experienced really difficult times and yet still most people do not really take much notice.

      I remember a boy I once met about 12 years ago - he was only 16 and living on the streets. He was always sitting outside the KFC. We talked to him and played cards with him and got to know him a bit. We found out his dad was in prison for a really terrible crime, so I think he must have had a difficult home life. Lots of people did pay him attention, probably because he was so young and looked it. When we first met him he had only just appeared on the streets, but it quickly became apparent that he was sniffing aerosol gas, which he had concealed up his sleeve. Quickly he deteriotated until, just months later, he was almost unrecognisable. I've no idea what happened to him in the end, but the story is very sad.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

      A masterpiece. So heart warming and yet so sad. Yes, there ae too many of homeless and nobody cares.

    • Polly C profile image

      Polly C 6 years ago from UK

      snakeslane - thank you for your lovely comments. Some people really are forgotten, their identities all but lost - just statistics, even though we can all still see them if we look. Thanks for stopping by :)

      @crea8ivOne - That is a lovely compliment, thank you :)

    • Polly C profile image

      Polly C 6 years ago from UK

      @ Jean - I agree, it is shocking that people exist like this, and it can and does happen to those who have even previously had their own homes and jobs, but suffer a run of bad luck and lose it all, for whatever reason. Also, a lot of homeless people in the UK, especially the older ones, are indeed victims of Margaret Thatcher's callous cuts, back in the 80s, which affected many of the most vulnerable. These were unstable people with mental health problems, who were suddenly expected to be looked after by the community. Of course, in the world we live in these days, this does not happen and such people are left to cope, or not cope, alone. Anyway, thank you for your great comments, and for reading my poem :)

    • Polly C profile image

      Polly C 6 years ago from UK

      @ september girl - thank you for your comments and compliments, much appreciated. Yes, it is a sad poem of course, and unfortunately portrays only one of so many today who find themselves with nowhere to go in life. Thank you once again :)

    • cre8ivOne profile image

      cre8ivOne 6 years ago from Midwest, USA

      You painted a picture, I could see this man. Great job. : )

    • snakeslane profile image

      Verlie Burroughs 6 years ago from Canada

      You've really nailed it here Polly C. So many gone. Homeless, nameless and forgotten. Touching tribute to a bleak life, very sad.

    • Jean Bakula profile image

      Jean Bakula 6 years ago from New Jersey

      You did such a good job of explaining what a terrible plight this is for people who many have just been down on their luck, or could be mentally ill and unable to seek help. Isn't it a pity we have situations like this in a world that has so much money and material wealth?

    • profile image

      september girl 6 years ago

      Such a poignant, beautiful tribute to a lost soul and to so many we see out there on the streets today. I love it! Although it is sad, but true. Compassion oozes from your poem. Awesome work! : )