polemical poetry to prickle the politics of "permanent austerity"
thistles stretch their prickly arms afar
Early morning, the geese fly over the frost-rimed rooftops.
into the winter sky, cold and luminous. The pattern
undulates, spooling like a black thread, holding each bird
in perfect placement.
I walk to the park with my gift of sandwiches.
The fields and paths are filled with prescient fog,
I am afraid of slipping on ice. But today
my path is quite clear.
You’re waiting outside the pavilion, just like you said,
with hot drinks, and cake spread out on the table.
There are bin bags filled
with warm gloves and hats.
“They can’t stop you having a picnic in the park,” you say to me, “Can they?”
They walk out of the mists, trudging up the path
away from the frosty meadows towards the city
hoping for warmth and food, for shelter tonight,
for friendly faces.
You will not tell me where they sleep. “Too vulnerable”, you said.
“They’re everywhere.” There are hidden tents,
and doorways, doorsteps. “They sleep under cars at night
to keep themselves dry.”
They slip past us warily – skinny pale youths
with grey faces and bad teeth, in thin tracksuit bottoms
and beanies. You give them drinks, and your smile.
Last night was too cold.
“We will look after everybody,” you say. “Everyone.”
I put my sandwiches on the table. The morning is still so cold.
“Community is the answer,” you say; I nod. It is
always the answer.
Lisa Rossetti was born in Devonport in 1950, and grew up in Cornwall but now lives in Chester. She is a community creative writing practitioner working with people in Recovery from drugs and alcohol, and those with mental health issues. Lisa is a former board director with Lapidus International, promoting words for wellbeing. Her poems have been published in online poetry blogs including Blaze, Mad Rabbit, Brevis, and I Am Not a Silent Poet, and in Write on the Farm (Harestones Press). She has written for Lapidus Journal, the Journal for Applied Arts & Health, and Mslexia. Her poems have been selected for open mic performance at the Women of the World (WOW) festival in April 2018. She volunteers for Soul Kitchen - an action group feeding the homeless, is a member of 'Outside In' - a local provider network addressing homelessness in Chester, and a story researcher for West Cheshire Foodbanks. She is also a co-founder of a local Momentum group.
Stained glass apostles look blindly down.
It’s cold in the nave today.
But not as cold as the streets outside,
where pavements can be as hard as hearts.
I push my hands deep into my pockets,
stare up at a ceiling embossed with golden stars.
This is where we put twelve camp beds, the manager says.
In the morning we serve hot sausages for breakfast.
Today we have Severe Weather Emergency Protocol training.
Those in the know call it SWEP, proud how it rolls off the tongue.
We are naming safeguarding principles, and waiting for our tea.
The homeless are waiting for the temperature to drop.
This evening the temperature has dropped; feels below zero.
SWEP has been triggered; light streams from the church door.
A few dark figures huddle outside the iron gates, smoking.
One of them calls over to me: “There’s twelve of us. We all got in!”