Martin Robertson

Now and Then


A plateful, nice

and plentiful.

I need not measure the amount

this course, next meal…  The alcohol

I wash it down with warms the soul…

Sugar and spice…


clatters back in the bleak wind

an ill-latched shutter of the mind.

I glimpse out there

a swollen belly, hollowed eyes,

blank stare,

where once a day or once perhaps in three

hands of careful kindness count

into the bowl the grains of rice.

Far away, far…

But look across

the street, or two or three streets.  Know

featureless faces ground by gross

poverty, in common loss


Here a pittance-

pension gives the ailing old

a choice between hunger and cold.

There a child

is cheated of its natural star,


through odds of brutal, hopeless circumstance.

But pangs of conscious conscience?  Oh

what candyfloss

I know they are.