Christmas lights with joy proclaim For lives so happy and blest; Christmas trees and tinsel too - A season of joy expressed. Along the street, my head bowed low - Against the wind I strive; I see dim shadows in alleys so dark, Of those who barely survive. The preacher in street, I hear so loud, God’s word to all he plies; Women with children who jump and laugh, Try hard to avoid his eyes. A cardboard carton beaten so flat, Now cold and soaked with rain; A bed tonight for Danny I’m sure, Now shelt’ring down the lane. I see the shoppers with goodies in bags, And parcels and presents so smart; Their collars turned high, all happy and warm, For home they now depart. Christmas lights swing back and forth, The wind so bitter, so cold; I pass a bench, and there I see - A life with woes untold. Happy youths joyfully sing, As out of pub they spill; Bottles in hand they dance along, To all they hail good will! And on the bench Benji lies, Enveloped in rug so wet; What troubles unspoken his life has faced? What horrors unknown beset? Salvation Army Band I hear, It plays with Christmas joy; “Repent!” I hear the preacher call, “Eternal life enjoy!” Alone, so cold, beneath a shawl, So who his life recall? And when, for Benji, time runs out, For him life’s bells will toll. Revelling shoppers pass up the street, The preacher preaches now no more; Home bound all to fires so warm, And bitter cold ignore. I pause and think of Bernie and Rod Their benches empty now; And Kenny and Derek and many more, Whom tears doth life endow. The lights above still swing in the wind, And home I must, so cold; But where’s the truth in life I see? The birth of Christ behold? 4 December 2017 This poem was written a little before Christmas 2017 when I was concerned about the plight of the numbers of homeless that appear regularly on the streets of Beverley. I was aware of the apparent lack of concern for people living rough on our streets – not entirely true, of course, as many passers-by do pause to talk, even give clothing (a Christmas jumper in one case) and rugs as well as food and money. OK, there are charlatans who even drive into Beverley to beg. But MANY on our streets are genuinely cold, often wet, hungry, sleeping rough and often ignored as we pass them by. Bernie and Rod have both died within the last year. Toll Gavel is the main (and picturesque) shopping street in Beverley,East Yorkshire, UK.
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