This poem by Brody Salmon comes from 'Same Boat? Poems on poverty and lockdown', an anthology to be published by Church Action on Poverty on 15 October 2020.
Sometimes I squash flies and align them on the windowsill like fingernails. I cough
on park gates as well, see, it isn’t hard to socially distance when I’m socially distant.
This fish bowl is flooded with make believe people, trudging like moths to make
|believe places. You just can’t see it, can you? That’s why I started letting the toast burn,
the baked beans n all! Letting the phone ring and the odours of animal honesty
reek out the house. The neighbour’s cat has been missing a week now.
Nothing says freedom like pausing the prisons, unfolding
prisms, ripping neckties, exchanging white ironed shirts
for pyjamas and slippers. I climb into the old suitcase
that we used to take to the seaside. I climb inside and pull
the zip, leave just enough room for a fingertip, and imagine
seagulls swooping, squawking for fish and chips.
Dad once hit the back of my hand.
I hear arcade machines and pennies
dropping. I miss you dad, but the gulls
won’t go away because they don’t
believe me when I say (scream)
there’s no food in here at all. Truth is,
I’m just too clever
for my own good.
I wrote the poem because there’s something lovable about a freak like my narrator. There’s something intriguing and disturbingly honest about his cynicism that everybody can sort of relate to. This is somebody whose madness is crippling them now that social norms and practice have been stripped from them. This is somebody relishing the isolation of lockdown, and in fact enjoying being locked away from the world, in a time where everybody seems to want to be seen, my character wants to disappear.
This poem by Matt Sowerby and Penny Walters comes from 'Same Boat? Poems on poverty and lockdown', an anthology to be published by Church Action on Poverty on 15 October 2020.
We look out for one another, or some of us do.
The older community that has been here since here began,
when the Victorians slums were ripped out,
and the people in them. Faces change – Russian, Zimbabwean,
they keep themselves to themselves mostly.
Here, we have our own microclimate.
The jobs have been gone so long that unemployment
is almost part of the culture. These are people who spit
the name of Mike Ashley but would kill for a season ticket.
There is something wrong about the children.
And then there are others. Those same ones you saw
collecting on matchday. Doing deliveries
from the grangermarket, working down the pantry,
Vinny’s, pay what you feel, love. Gobshites with a cause.
Mamma P, who should be home but is shopping for her neighbours.
These people are splitting deliveries between
houses.They don’t shout about it.
In the background, Erskine’s wall rises up,
a limping promise, a tropical bird on the roadside.
this poem is based on real experiences of living on the Byker Estate. The estate is instantly recognisable from its brightly coloured early 1970s buildings, which replaced Victorian slums which had been condemned unfit for human habitation almost three decades before. Byker Wall was designed by the socialist architect Ralph Erskine, based on consultations with the area’s residence. However, following completion, fewer than 20% of original residents were housed at Byker Wall. Like many inner-city urban housing areas, Byker experiences high levels of poverty. This poem is a tribute to the residents of Byker who were working to support their neighbours long before lockdown began.
This poem by Jayne Gosnall comes from 'Same Boat? Poems on poverty and lockdown', an anthology to be published by Church Action on Poverty on 15 October 2020.
The Price of Conformity
School shoes. Cost big. Growing feet
Struggle. Worry. Missed heartbeats
Wish that those who make the rules
Remember our kids go to school.
White shirts. Black skirts. Black trousers
Black socks. Black shoes. No trainers.
All kids hate them, fight against ‘em
No colour, stripes or fancy laces
Special school ties snag and fray.
Blazers shine more every day.
Mates might mock a hand-me-down
so got to buy new, scour the town.
Boy says all his mates have Vans
forgets they also have helpful Nans.
Girl says Kickers fine for her
I’m wishing that their Dad would care
Benefits not fit for purpose.
Constant fear. State couldn’t care less
When they’re laughed at ‘cause of me
of course I feel guilty.
Boy comes home after PE
says “My shoes got nicked!” expecting me
to solve the problem, like they’re free.
They’re our food budget for the week.
I cry so hard can barely speak
Every time I think of my sisters and brothers struggling to raise their children in poverty, I remember crying over my son’s stolen school shoes.
This poem by Melanie Rogers comes from 'Same Boat? Poems on poverty and lockdown', an anthology to be published by Church Action on Poverty on 15 October 2020.
My mask keeps me safe.
It stops others asking if I’m OK.
It stops me having to lie
and prevents tears from coming.
My mask protects me.
It stops others seeing the real me,
the me that hurts so much,
that’s shattered inside, held together on the outside.
My mask keeps me shielded.
It saves me from feeling vulnerable.
It saves me from being hurt,
from history being repeated.
My mask is a lie.
I’m not OK.
The tears are there, they’re just hidden.
The pain is there, it’s excruciating.
Not many people recognise my mask.
Not many people know me well enough;
I don’t let them.
Those that do terrify me.
I can’t bear to be hurt again.
I’ve worn my mask since I was a teenager. I’ve used it to hide the internal pain and distress I’ve carried with me since then, from those around me, be it family, friends, colleagues or professionals caring for me. I wear it well and I’m able to hide how distressed and/or ill I am, there are very few who can see past my mask. Just before lockdown I began to consciously let my mask slip in front of my therapist but as lockdown unfolded, so did a traumatic, personal life event and I had to stay strong, so my mask one again became fixed. But, I also began to recognise how my mask protected me and this led to me writing my first poem in years, ‘My Mask’.
This poem by Earl Charlton comes from 'Same Boat? Poems on poverty and lockdown', an anthology to be published by Church Action on Poverty on 15 October 2020.
100 days now of lockdown and stress.
When are the government going to get a hold of this mess?
There are people like me who have been shielding wanting to see their family!
Come on! We have feelings.
It’s been 100 days now since I made an income.
These 100 days haven’t been much fun.
But being homeless before and living in social isolation,
give me the knowledge and sense to beat this complicated situation.
Routine, routine, is all I say.
Don’t let your mind take you away.
I for one was nearly there,
when I thought that we’d become homeless again,
but with the help and support of our local sources,
North East Homeless, Mercy Hub, Hope and more,
It’s made it easier to hang on a little longer.
Come on July the 6th I’m back to make an income.
These days are hard these days are dark,
but it will be easier as we put these dark
times behind but not forgotten in our hearts.
Let’s stand the fight, let’s come together.
We need each other now, more than ever!
I did this poem because I myself know what it’s like to live isolated on your own. Even on the busiest of streets you can feel alone. Mental health, addiction and homelessness definitely fits into loneliness. On the 100th day of lockdown I found out that I was able to go back to work and make an income, leading me to reflect on them 100 days. A very good friend of mine, Jeremy Cain, mentioned this poetry book to me, and encouraged me to write this poem, so I sat down and 10 mins later my feelings were once more on paper.
'Life-Changing Stories' is Church Action on Poverty's new series of Bible studies, to be published on 8 October 2020.
‘Life-Changing Stories’ includes five Bible studies on the book of Acts. They offer challenging new perspectives on this story of people on the margins who were empowered to go out and change the world.
It is an ideal resource for churches or house groups running Lent programmes in 2021. It can also be used for personal study and reflection.
It is the third publication in Church Action on Poverty’s ‘Scripture from the Margins’ series. As with previous instalments, these studies respond to the way that the Bible shows us a God who is on the side of the poor and the oppressed. People on the margins.
Commenting on a previous publication in the series, Revd Richard Lamey, Rector of St Paul at Wokingham, said:
“An excellent course – accessible, opinionated, challenging, affirming and easy to lead and to build on… So many courses are dull and simplistic – yours opened up new vistas. There was never a sense of being forced into a right answer or finding an easy solution. It was a complex course for complex times and a complex faith.”
‘Life-Changing Stories’ features studies by five different authors, bringing a range of perspectives and expertise:
- Jan Sutch Pickard, well known as a poet, storyteller and liturgist for the Iona Community
- Revd Nick Jowett, author of Wisdom’s Children
- Sue Richardson, Theological Education Adviser for Christian Aid
- Ruth Wilde, National Coordinator of Inclusive Church
- Revd Dr Raj Patta, an expert in Dalit liberation theology
Life-Changing Stories will be available for free from Church Action on Poverty’s website on 8 October.