Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Invisible



“ I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me. Like the bodiless heads you see sometimes in a circus sideshow, it is as though I have been surrounded by mirrors of hard, distorting glass. When they approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves, or figments of their imagination- indeed, everything and anything except me.” 

INVISIBLE

Invisible they are,
the have-me-not’s
the underclass squashed flat
beneath the piles of what-we-have.

Poverty is hard to find,
almost invisible
unless you care to look for it. 

Look hard behind the eyes
of that dirt smudged child
with half-empty belly and vacant stare. 
Judge easy, fear his progeny,
another stain of dumbing down,
the underclass that never try. 

If only you lived inside his belly,
felt his gnawing hunger,
brain starved of the ability to learn. 
Would you feel for him?
Would you?

Perhaps for a moment (conscience pricked)
you lay pennies in a begging hat
of that waste-of-space that apparent poor. 
Is he really poor or merely a wise
street entrepreneur speculating
on our moments need to put things right? 
You can’t trust the poor.  
Well can you?

Why don’t they get a job instead
of leeching us who earn each and every penny? 
Hard graft we do to fill our bellies
with each and every trinket, consumables.    
How long does an iPhone last
before you need another?
Not long.  Not long.

How can we understand poverty unless
we have lived through it ourselves? 
And if we do, how we long
to remain invisible, the shame of it,
hide in darkened rooms when bailiffs call,
shudder at our situation. 

Of bread, there is two slices left
after eking out a single loaf
for one never-ending week. 

How do I feed my children?

Anna :o]

The above was inspired by Susan’s prompt of Invisibility at Poets United.  Cheers Susan!

The last two stanzas are accurate to a situation my family found ourselves in many many moons ago.  Until I wrote the poem and perhaps of being now (and for a long time) relatively ‘comfortable,’ I had forgotten about it and I am ashamed of myself.

I can remember pretending not to be in when the milkman called for his money each Friday night. I can remember handing over the last money in my purse to the insurance man as I was too embarrassed to say I couldn’t afford it.  I can remember borrowing the bus fare for my son to go school from my next-door neighbour because I couldn’t even scrape that together.  I only did this once, so mortified I was.  I can remember the fear of the postman dropping debt letters through the letter box.  I can remember the bailiff calling, him finding there was nothing of value to take away to solve the debts.

I remember most the two slices of bread.  My hubs and children had had the last of cereals for their breakfast and I knew there was two slices of bread left in the breadbin, so looking forward to toast I was.  When I pulled them out of the packet, they were turning green with mould.  I had never felt such helplessness such despair such utter disappointment in my life and haven’t since.

Also shared with the good folk at dVerse OLN.  Cheers Grace!

Image:  Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Author: For 4the children   

23 comments:

thotpurge said...

So brave of you to share your journey and that profound poem. I was greatly moved by your story and strength,

Susan said...

Wow! I've been there, too, and maybe that's why I find your narrative as compelling as your poem, maybe even more so. I think that's because it can be read by impoverished as well as those with plenty, whereas your poem is aimed at the latter. Both have your unique way with words that peels layer after layer and holds each up to be seen. Undeniably powerful. Thank you.

Sanaa Rizvi said...

This one brought tears to my eyes... big hugs!!

Sumana Roy said...

as long as there is humanity class struggle will exist however much we pretend to close our eyes to the problem...now it's 1% versus 99%...your powerful lines as well as your note deal with the subject with heart, making the poem so deeply touching....

Sherry Blue Sky said...

I have lived this poem, and have eaten the moldy bread on occasion...........poverty is a terrible state of being. I am astounded by the statistic you begin with, sending money abroad while not feeding those at home. The world makes little sense, when it is viewed in financial terms.

indivisible said...

I can't thank you enough for this post. It brought back memories,

Elizabeth

Mary said...

I feel your poem so deeply. Those who live in poverty are SO often invisible to the rest of the population. I am reading a book right now called "Evicted." Non-fiction about families in my city. Shocking really when I read about people in my midst about whom I know so little but who live a life of lacking the most basic things that they need.

Marja said...

Very profound and great for telling as it is as there is so much ignorance and so much judgement which makes the pain of being poor even worse

Magical Mystical Teacher said...

The world is filled with invisible people, and the more the rich become richer and the poor become poorer, the more invisible people there will be.

Grace said...

Kindness can be found by sharing what we have ~ We just have to be careful though because sometimes beggars and those asking for alms are just not earning it ~ But I agree about walking in their shoes and being understanding of the situation, no judgments ~

Magaly Guerrero said...

The world is a place of experiences. We need to give--if we have--and hope for the best. Will some take advantage of that? Sure. But letting someone go hungry just because we don't want another someone cheat us out of a dollar is not the way.

I've never gone hungry. I think it's the good things about growing up in a farm. All right, so we didn't have electricity or plumbing or any luxuries, but we could always go out and pick some fruit or dig something to roast or boil. Having grown up like that makes me value every single thing I have. Experience is always a good reminder. Even if it takes us a little while to get there.

Toni Spencer said...

I work with the invisible hungry and felt every line of this. I too have known hunger but it was only mine and not that of a loved one. A very brave and honest write.

Margaret said...

Your commentary is as poignant as your poem! I think one reason elections turned out the way they did in the USA is because of the "invisible" rural areas and the inner city poor ... I can only hope hungry bellies and jobless people will be rewarded for their faith in change... time will tell. Again, what a powerful write. Well penned!

Brian said...

I can't claim the same experience, but I have had to use food panties on several occasions. There is no reason for hunger to exist anywhere on the planet.

poetry-diary.com said...

I'm glad you found a way through, too.
Matthew

signed...bkm said...

I understand the dirt and shame of poverty...the turned face from all unclean...to many children are going without proper food and learning...why must we ask ourselves while a society idealizes false reality...bkm

Debi Swim said...

So very well written. We were poor in my childhood but never this level of poverty. I am thankful to my grandparents for making that so.

brudberg said...

What i sensed most, both in your poem and your commentary is the shame... asking for help sounds as bad as it can be... I have been blessed of never been really poor, though growing up feeling having less, mostly due to my father's "priorities", I do recall the shame... But after all black pudding is better than moldy bread.

Gayle Walters Rose said...

The fact that so much money is spent on foreign aid instead of hungry children is beyond my comprehension. I didn't really realize our family was poor until I was an adult. At times things were tough in our household but I never remember going hungry but I do remember the feeling of great shame. Very well done, Anna.

kaykuala said...

How can we understand poverty unless
we have lived through it ourselves?

Very true Anna! One can never know the real thing unless having experienced the difficulties! But it makes one stronger!

Hank

pandamoniumcat said...

You certainly bring home the helplessness of poverty. I have never been to the point where I have only had moldy bread but in the last three years have struggled as a single parent. I understand feeling shame but now I don't think it is me or anyone else who finds themselves in a situation of poverty who should feel ashamed it is the ones who try to make you feel that way who should. One thing I know now is everyone is only a breath away from such circumstances and compassion for your fellow human beings costs nothing and material things don't keep you warm at night or in your heart. I thank you for this heart felt poem and I am glad you reached the other side. Great writing.

Jenny Woolf said...

That is such a powerful and upsetting image, Anna, the bread green with mould. I remember being so poor that every penny mattered. But at least there was regular money coming in, it was just the cost of housing was so huge that it was a challenge to find the money to feed us and pay bills. But I was never at the stage of the two slices of bread, and for that I am thankful.

Nicholas V said...

As you say, Anna, unless someone has experienced poverty it is difficult to understand it and brush it aside with a "well, why don't they get job?" comment... Unfortunately even in the rich, Western-type nations this day and age poverty is a reality that most in the population do not see because they choose not to see it. I am doing some volunteer work and what is out there and "Invisible" is truly frightening. Even more frightening is that the rich keep getting richer...