A poem by Ben Banyard, inspired by observations of homelessness in British towns and city centres. Illustration by Kevin Davis.

Workers and shoppers stream home
overlooking an inward eddy of those
who clutch blankets, cardboard and dog leads.

They are the night flotsam kept away
by daytime squads of walkie-talkies
brimming at the town’s edges to bob in
and bed their scraps down in doorways.

Later, they hope to be ignored
by leggy stragglers on work nights out,
or packs of high young mighty shouters.

Their unseen distress flares dampen
as a gentle drizzle grows to a tide
pulling them back each morning
to tread water just out of reach,

hoping for a constant star by which to steer
and break the moon’s steady pull.

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