An edit of a fairly recent pome.

I glimpsed Malcolm today,

He was looking good

With a new bed roll and

Pristine white trainers

And a brown bowler hat

Perched jaunty over his

Soggy chewed balaclava.


I glimpsed Malcolm today,

Scuttling between black headstones,

Emerging from his new home,

A tomb

In the Masonic necropolis


He was deep in conversation

With Uncle Felix

Who was not there,

And might, or might not,

Ever have existed.


Malcolm trusted no one, not a soul.

Refusing offers of a drink or a meal

Both were potentially lethal.


A petition,

Secured Malcolm’s eviction.

His neighbours complained the

Subterranean excavator,

Utility re-router,

Was “A real and present danger”


Smoke alarms, plug sockets and switches

Were ‘conduits of surveillance’.

Wrapped in duct tape – just in case.


To escape the eyes of spies

He lived out back

In a camouflage tent ‘hide’

On the heap

That had been garden

Once upon a time.


Sighting Malcolm is not easy,

He hides the derelict shadowlands of industry,

And in the foliage of yews

Or crypts of sombre gothic

Primitive Methodist churches fashioned after Pugin.


When his mother died

Something inside him died with her.


Grief is strange

Can turn a human to a wraith,

A cipher,

Missing out on joy and love.

Missing out on life.


I glimpsed Malcolm today,


Scuttling between black headstones

Emerging from his new home,

A tomb

In the Masonic necropolis.


He was looking good.


The cemetery is kinder

Than the riverside park to sleep,

or under the flyover

At the mercy of strangers,

Attacked by passing drunks.

Have one eye blacked

Or both,

And a busted nose

And pink Elastoplasts

To patch his Kenyan skin.


They will find him

Move him on

He may wake in casualty

Or maybe not wake up again


He might be missed

A passing pub comment:

“Haven’t seen Trevor lately”

“Don’t you mean Malcolm? Good riddance”

And switch quick to football, the weather and ‘Strictly’.


A trip to the crematorium awaits

Weekend ‘ovies’ for the workers.


Or they will  bury him in a ‘home from home’

Cardboard carton coffin

One more damaged anonymous one

Deceased – “known only to God”

Deposited in a pauper’s grave

Without benefit of a curate’s platitudes.


He had been happy in the hospital

He had a friend there

And a garden plot

Growing sweet peas

And had been known to whistle

When the mood was on him.


They discharged him

In the name of  ‘care in the community’


There is no care for Malcolm’s kind

With no love and no one to speak to

Except Uncle Felix

(who may or may not be real)

And a mother to curse at

– who definitely had been.


When Malcolm eventually leaves us

I wonder who will

Take possession of his bedroll

And off white battered trainers

And one time jaunty brown bowler….



…But pass when it comes to the balaclava.

© coolhermit 2023
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Very poignant Ch, and yes, so-called ‘care in the community’ has to a lot to answer to. Very well written.

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