Thursday, 5 December 2013

The Cold Weight

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As we move in to the colder months my thoughts turn to the many homeless people that live rough on the streets and in the hedgerows of Britain. It is estimated that in the UK about 10% of these people are veterans, a figure which has, unbelievably, risen by about 6% during the last 5 years.

The fact that in these ‘modern times’ people are forced, often by circumstance, to live on the streets is unacceptable. In order to help raise awareness of their plight I wrote this poem. The title reflects the fact that too many communities regard the homeless as an unwanted burden and fail to support them.

The Cold Weight

He lies in a doorway
out of the wind,
a cold nose companion
snuggled right in.

Cardboard blanket,
patched overcoat,
stuffed with paper,
knotted with rope.

He remembers the time
snow ripped past,
when in sodden clothes
they gave their last.

They were immortal,
or so they’d thought.
As through that hell
they bravely fought.

Now, here, in this doorway,
racked by a guilt,
lies a veteran
in a cardboard quilt.

John Carré Buchanan
05 December 2013


  1. Well this reply is from the Equator where there are many in similar situations. You wonder what events lead up to a householder leaving his past behind to hit the streets. Also what will it take to get them back on 'track'.

  2. Perfect poem: no awkward phrasing to get a rhyme, it flows well and it conveys the meaning and intent poignantly. It really is a travesty the way veterans are treated. In the United States, it is estimated that as many as 22 veterans a day commit suicide because they can't cope with the memories of what they've seen and participated in – and they don't get adequate help to deal with post traumatic stress. The situation is apparently even worse in Britain and Canada. (And always has been it seems – I remember when the streets of Canadian cities were filled with so-called rubby-dubs: homeless veterans of two world wars trying to numb themselves and erase their awful memories with cheap alcohol. It was a massive failure on the part of Canadian society that they even existed at all, never mind in such huge numbers. Even today, our government, despite spewing our hoardes of rah rah patriotic rhetoric, ignores our veterans. Three committed suicide just last week. It angers me, even though I don't agree with the wars they have ben sent to fight, to see them treated this way.)

    1. Andy, thank you for your kind comment and your concern. What winds me up is that the numbers have increased in recent years.

  3. Have you thought of sending this to any of the charities working with homeless people, for their publicity? It's very clear and succint.

    1. Mama Mpira, Thank you for your kind comment, I had not thought of doing this, to be honest I would not know where to start. If someone thought my work could help I would be delighted for them to use it, as long as I am credited.


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