‘Homelessness’: Seen Again and Again – #poetscorner

In #poetscorner, Features, HOME, LITERATURE by Sonia Muhwezi

#poetscorner is a feature in which PTL Editors ask writers to share a poem of theirs with the internet. We also ask them to divulge on how they started writing poetry, what inspired the poem in question and why it remains a personal favourite. The idea being to bask in the glory of the written and/or spoken word. Oh dear…

Maeve-533x800_800x512A love of song lyrics first drew me to poetry, but as I got older it was the creative outlet poetry provided that I began to love. It acts a s a guilt-free break from essay writing.

This poem is inspired by a conversation that I had with a woman at an emergency accommodation provider. I volunteer there regularly and have met many different people, but this woman seemed to be unusually confident. She told me where she was moving on to and her aspirations.

‘Homelessness’ was a circumstance that she would hopefully no longer be in. You’re only ever a couple of steps away from being ‘homeless’, depending on your support networks; drink and drugs are often the effect, not cause, of this situation.

This poem is an appeal to compassion, rather than common judgment through visual stereotypes, of people experiencing ‘homelessness’.

‘Homelessness’: Seen Again and Again

Cuts are sketched to her face like

An attempt to follow a pattern.

Pink, inky needles threading

Delicate colour under thin skin.

Someone trying to get in.




Yet cold hate cannot win here.

The air is heavy with an accurate

Heat, a caring meal repeating the

Full treatment for the sustenance

Needed. It can cleanse the


Sterility of the everyday- that

Lucid way we are able to free

Ourselves when there is so much

That we should say. This serving

Of food sees in a warmth


To the heart – a volunteered part.

Healthy understanding is the

Rare and requisite banding,

Of people we too often

Think should not


Be placed together. As if

Some thing or another makes

homelessness define you.

The very old, but prevalent

Malign view.




This woman would like to

Work in sales, a refuge after

‘Refuge’ she tells. Her words

Do not weather her like

The elements do.


She is funny too. Her eyes are

Bright and blue and easy to

Hold on to. Yet they leave

Much untold. Her thanks is

Sincere and she


Speaks, as she pleases.

No expectations appeased in

This mixture of abuse and

Misfortune, structure, and

‘addiction’…and aspirations.


A most living depiction of

Those lacking help in certain

Circumstances, missing particular

Chances -or never having had them

Offered, in the first place.


It can never be enough to see a

‘Homeless person’ merely in a

Passing way, when we can

Take a moment, or more, of

Tender care.


To make sure that we are at

The very least fully aware,

That there really is,

And always was:

A real person there.


Maeve Slattery

Maeve is a third year Social Anthropology student at Cambridge, interested in poetry, art and raising awareness about issues such as educational disadvantage and homelessness, by supporting local charities. She’s currently working on a project to increase the recreational activities available at the local emergency accommodation provider mentioned, working with staff to create more opportunities by finding external support and resources for them. All in a day’s work.

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