Helen Jones

Food Bank

 

The queue.

The wind-greyed faces,

Shivering under a slate-hard sky.

An axe wind from the hills slices thin coats,

Hunger’s knife pricks them

Yet still they stand,

Old soldiers in a losing fight,

Bags clutched, like beggars’ bowls.

 

Age sits upon them early,

A squatting toad,

Smothering every hope,

Their lives deformed

By fear and want,

Eyes look towards the floor,

Shuttering out judgmental gaze.

 

They are waiting for our dole.

Time shifts,

Suddenly they become

Medieval peasants at the abbey gate,

As if the centuries rolled back and mocked

All thoughts of progress in our frozen hearts,

And I make tea and toast,

 Fill carrier bags

With just enough

Carefully calculated charity

To last three days.

 

They are grateful, relieved,

Their energy sapped,

Unable to rage, to demand,

To revolt,

Slip through the door

Like ghosts

Of our worst dreams

While I sit quietly in the back,

Clad in the horror of every day,

Suffocated by the shame

Of working here.

Helen Jones was born in Chester and gained degrees from UCL and Liverpool many years ago. She is now happily retired and divides her time between writing, learning Spanish and making a new garden. Poems previously in the Amethyst Review and Poetica.

 Buchenwald

Nothing is ever as we expect.

Even the legend on the gate Is different

And time, like a respectful gardener,

Has brushed the blood away.

 

Tours guides stand bored

With a commonplace horror,

Young soldiers lounge,

Push back their caps,

Brought to be educated,

Eager to be gone.

 

Here silence suffocates the living air

And no birds sing,

The earth eternally wounded,

Scabbed with knowledge

Of what took place.

Fear lurks like rats

Among the alleyways,

Sneaks among the barrack blocks,

Creeps behind you as you stare.

 

Memories like whips,

Crackle in the wind.

You turn to see

The efficiency of death,

How evil is so orderly,

Creates straight lines,

And has a time for each particular job,

Its working parts all meshing to create

The rationality of death.

 

In the museum piles of grinning teeth

Mock well-meaning thoughts,

Knowing the human parts of this machine

Might meet you in a shop, or on the street,

Smile at your children,

Wish you a good day.

 

They know in Weimar,

All its poets gone,

They smelt the smoke

While people shopped and talked,

And housewives moaned because their washing spoiled,

As if nothing was happening.

 

“To Each His Own”.

Then what have we deserved?

Without distraction we are forced to face

Ourselves, not knowing if we would be the ones

To speak or fade in silence

We lay our flowers on a British stone

And know the truth,

We are victims and torturers

Each. 

triangle_small
spikes
bedroom tax
Sheriff Stars

thistles stretch their prickly arms afar

Black Triangle
Disrupt and Upset

Militant Thistles

prickling the politics of "permanent austerity"