dash

High Rise

Some claim that God lives in a tiny flat
in a high-rise in a dodgy neighbourhood
and reads the newspapers in the local library
the Council wants to close.
Hes lost his job because of the Covid crisis
and doesnt know what happens next.
Hes been homeless before
and knows how hard it is climb back up
even to the little he has now.

Parents worry about him because he smiles at babies
and watches children playing in the park.
Once, when someone offered him a fag,
he took it, although he doesnt smoke:
Maybe deep down hed been touched
by such an out-of-nowhere act of kindness.
But no ones sure quite what hes got to say
although this morning I had the sudden thought:
what if you could listen to his silence?

If it was him I met, Ive seen the way
the local coppers size him up as though
knowing theyll get their chance to pull him in
and put him somewhere safe, not on the streets.
I wonder if any of us will find
when that day comes his absence means a gap.
After all, its not as though his presence
changes anything, as far as I can see.

So whats the point, I ask myself, or rather
whats his point? Search me. But looking back
Im half convinced that's what he did that evening
when I bumped into him as I left the supermarket
and he stared at me as though he wanted something.
I gave him my spare change and said good luck
and went home to a beer and microwave.

Dont get me wrong: it also seems too easy
to put him in a box as though he were
merely a clumsy left-wing statement. Lets  
face it too, if everyone lived like that,
whod run the railway, and take the tough decisions?
So maybe he keeps a low profile because
he knows whatever it is he has to offer
wont feed the world, or keep things ticking over,

or stop the bad guys coming out on top,
or war, or plague, or genocide, or pain,
or rape, or kidnap, or the suicidal way
were messing up the world. And yet I sense
that thinking about him helps me to go on
even if hes just a mass of contradictions,
and even if Ive lived too long to hope
that maybe at last Ill nail some kind of truth.

Tom Vaughan

If you have any thoughts on this poem, Tom Vaughan  
would be pleased to hear them.

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