Tuesday, 23 February 2010

The Poverty God by Alan Morrison

The Poverty God

Poverty's no faith but has its sacraments and rituals
That to the novice onlooker may look like superstitions -
But its character is scraped out from sundry scraps and victuals:
The souping of the sugar, pouring hot water in the bowl
To swill its very dregs to sweeten tea; the slow methodical
Silage-drain of reused tea-bags being bled till fully sapped
Of their spirit-lifting properties; the scouring of old change,
Mostly coppers, those dejected tokens for that rainy day
That's arrived, a thousand times - cleansed, re-minted through
Scrubbing, purified for bagged exchange at quibbling till;
The dissembling meals, minimally nutritious, just enough to keep
The body and mind together, not a scrap left on the plate,
That would be ingratitude; the racked spirit, the salvage
Of scorn, the head's hostelry of bitterness, the soul's storm;
A trembling trinity - in thought-form, a rising whirlpool in the sky
Devouring all but throbbing brow and blunderbussing belly;
All these rituals make up poverty's blasted tapestry,
Together it hangs in tattered rags, and handmade fags -
Rolled to smoke; the choice tobacco, ancient, brittle, cindery,
Lung-dragged in deep asbestos-gasps; these paltry sacraments
Are offered to a poverty god, who doubts that he exists;
Who's conjured through our hunger; Who's present in all absences.

c)Alan Morrison 2010

Alan, whose new book Keir Hardie Street has recently been published by Smokestack, has also contributed a new poem to the Poet-in-Residence poetry twentyten project.

P-i-R has a convenient A-Z LINK to Alan Morrison's THE RECUSANT website >>>


  1. What a powerful piece of writing Gwilym, and one which should be compulsory reading in these days, when so much food is wasted. My mother was brought up at the end of the nineteenth century, beginning of the twentieth, in poverty (albeit village poverty where there were vegetables from the garden, and the generosity of neighbours) and she never wasted a thing in her life. If there were crusts left we had a bread and butter pudding; the tiniest scraps of meat were utilised in a shepherd's pie and if all else failed, a suet pudding filled a good corner.

  2. I agree that this is a powerful piece, and when read out loud in angry voice it's more, it's power-full!

  3. A review copy of Morrison's new book Keir Hardie Street just received here. Reaction in due course. Thank you Red Squirrel press.


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