I Ain’t No Scrounger

I wrote this because I felt it needed to be written. No one should have to live from a food bank, not in the third world, nor in the ‘developed’ world.

I Ain’t No Scrounger

Handing potatoes
in a ripped
supermarket bag
to a man
wearing a torn brown trench coat
is not charity.

He queues,
for hours,
so he can be sure
his children
don’t have to sleep
with bellies aching.

Approaching the table of food,
his lip quivering,
tongue salivating
at donated slim pickings,
now totally stripped of the majesty
this once swaggering,
hero of the community,
carried.

Thrusting Yorkshire tea bags
and canned stew
into his holdall,
he stands naked at your whimsy.

Waiting.

But the box is empty
because no one knew
the scale of the problem,
because people hoarded
and didn’t listen,
not enough was given.

His eyes widen with fear,
hoping that you will go
and tell more,
and they will come,
armed with his children’s dinner.

Despondent,
shame-faced,
he mutters his thank you.

Carrying his swag
he passes a ‘help wanted’ sign,
and rips it down before anyone else can see,
but it’s too late,
the job has gone.

He’ll be back next week.

And while he sits,
watching the innocent mouths
of his babes
gorge a contributed meal,
desperation tears
what was left
of his dignity,
but he’ll cope, for them,
for now.
It’s what parents do.

Hard days
and hungry nights
don’t make a scrounger.

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