I wrote “John Doe” in response to “Underpass Girl” by a Milton Keynes poet called Mossman. His poem is about homelessness in Milton Keynes in England.
Anyone who has been there will know that it’s rampant. Outside the train station has its own homeless population and that’s just for starters.
An underpass girl in an overpass world
Under road dry tented
Lost, cold, just growing old
All my Fridays black
With no hot offers free,
Whilst the overpass world is bought and sold
No-one to buy two and give one to me.
Who is it that judged?
I’ve not been good enough
To join the Christmas sack race
And that I should hide my face.
First on my list is to;
Pass under into
A warm bed space
Sit at a table’s saving grace.
Not on my list; is sleeping rough
Hoping for another pass-me-down pasty
Sipping all day
On my one suspended coffee.
Waiting for night’s chill
On this cold eve as you pass over
Spare some change Sir,
For those under still.
This next poem is mine. Whilst Mossman’s is about Milton Keynes homelessness, mine is about homelessness in my local area, Northampton.
In recent years, Northampton Town Centre has grown, not only with people coming in from the outside but poverty and homelessness as well.
He perches near TSB,
under shop shelter dry tented.
Hungry, tired – plodding through
each day, still discontented.
Mr Doe walks from the long
long street,to the one with
all the cafés, as we all drift by
on repeat every day.
Who are they to judge me?
My house is a rolled sleeping bag.
Just the snakes of this Jerusalem
where morality is bought and sold.
It’s 9am. First thing to do today
is to find a spot for tonight
where I can sleep in peace,
without the threat of the police.
Not on my agenda is death.
I acquire handouts,
of: pasties and hot drinks
but I can feel myself sinking.
I’m John Doe, a mask:
an overpass man in an
underpass land falling
through the cracks,
but I don’t believe them.